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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2082936
My 5-year old granddaughter experiences her first Girl Guide camp.
         "Do you want to go to a Girl Guide Camp with Nanna, and sleep in a tent?"
         I directed this query to my five-year old granddaughter, Sydney. "Let's go!", she hollered as she pushed me towards the door.
          Laughing, I planted my feet and replied, "Whoa there, not right this minute."
         She had no idea, but I had to plan, prepare, and pack supplies for not just us, but about sixty-five other girls, so I needed precious time. Time was a mystery to her; usually she was impatient with it because it seemed to pass too slowly.
         "We can go camping in thirty-five sleeps".
         Sydney protested. "But Nanna that's weeks!"
         To her a week was an eternity, and the poor girl didn't realize that heftier blocks of time even existed.
          And so the countdown began with Syd asking hopefully every single day, "Camping today, Nanna?"
         On the actual evening of departure, Sydney was more than ready. There had been enough talk, she wanted action.
          Erecting our tent proved great fun; billowing nylon, collapsible poles, miles of rope to flick and skip over, pegs to hammer into the ground. All of this busy work seemed to bolster Sydney's perception of herself as one of the 'big girls'. She hadn't missed the fact that the other five-year olds had opted to sleep on bunk beds in a cabin.
         The highlight of any Guide camp is the campfire. This is where the camaraderie is celebrated. A roaring fire with dancing flames of yellow, red, and blue becomes our focal point, our altar. As the fingers of fire flicker, and the wood crackles and hisses, our gregarious group of girls encircle it to sing. Immense shadow trees act as our sentinels while aromatic smoke spirals into the darkening night sky. The purple-black velvet cathedral shimmers with zillions of shimmering stars. It is nothing short of magical, and this awe was reflected in Sydney's saucer-sized, unblinking eyes.
         The customary, time-honoured opening song is 'Fire's Burning'. The lyrics are: " fire's burning, fire's burning, draw nearer, draw nearer, in the gloaming, in the gloaming,(often sung as 'in the glowing', but,hey, this makes sense), come sing and be merry." Everything had been hunky-dory, but inexplicably Sydney was wailing. Oh no, was she overcome with home-sickness?
          "I don't want to be married!", blurted a distressed Sydney.
         Of course I didn't want this for her either, and I explained, "No, it's merry."
         "Oh, like Great Nanna Mary?"
         Stifling a chuckle, I tried again. "No it sounds the same, but this merry means happy."
         The five-year old logic cut straight to the nitty-gritty; "Why isn't it happy then?"
         Yes, indeed, why not?
          A rollicking boisterous action song restored Syd's spirits. There's nothing quite like linking arms and elbowing the taller campers.Most of us were singing, "Rolling over the billows, rolling over the sea, rolling over the billows in the deep blue sea."
         Syd bellowed, "Rolling over the pillows," and she didn't have a problem with this.
         All too soon it was time to retire and we sang our smoldering fire to sleep with 'Taps'. The final line actually is "God is nigh". I'm not sure, but my granddaughter may have sung, "God is night". She is so correct.
         This was the highlight of Sydney's first evening at camp; the moment she had anticipated for thirty-five sleeps. Finally, she could sleep in a real tent in her brand new sleeping bag. Squirming into it, she delighted in now understanding 'snug as a bug'. Her entire body shook in excitement. This is when she abandoned all pretense of actually closing her eyes and relaxing. She waited until I had slipped into my sleeping bag before she announced that she needed to pee. Of course she knew my reaction; nobody questions the fickle bladder of a child.
         Wriggling out of her cocoon, Sydney wasted no time tugging on her rainboots and producing her flashlight. Holding hands, we tip-toed past clusters of tents following the bright halo of her torch. In whispers, she questioned and marvelled everything; tiny tumbling toads, the blinking fireflies flitting around us, the damp grass, sparkling spider webs, the magnificent moon, chirping crickets.
         There were to be many forays to the facilities heeding the call of nature. I never believed Sydney's bladder to be that demanding. She had discovered a nighttime world of intoxicating magic; it's spell more alluring than slumber. Thanks to my granddaughter, Sydney, I enjoyed my third childhood; every wonderful bit as enthralling as the first. (749 words)
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