Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Girl Scout Day!

Many of the survival and camping skills I learned were thru the Girl Scouts, which celebrate their 95th birthday today.

Juliette Gordon Low, known as Daisy, began with a handful of girls in Savannah, Georgia and the rest is history.

I always loved camp because it was with new girls, who did not yet know me as someone different and strange. It was a level playing field, everybody was a little different.

Does anybody learn survival skills today, unless their parents teach them or send them to Outward Bound programs? We learned to pitch a tent, construct shelter if necessary, dig a latrine, start a fire from next to nothing, purify water, and distinguish edible plants from those that would take your life. I am unlikely to need these in my current suburban life, but I'm glad to know how just in case.

Wonder what kinds of skills we will need for the upcoming generation? I had an opportunity to learn more about computers today, maybe that's more important than knowing how to build an emergency shelter. We will see.

Love and cookies, Girl Scout cookies today,



egregious said...

What are your survival skills?

Nate said...

I once used a piece of ice to light paper on fire! Does that count?

egregious said...


That SO counts.

But only if you cough up the details.

Nate said...

I was up in Tahoe one bright sunny day when I found a cool little frozen block of ice in the shape of a small puddle atop a rock. It was roughly the size of a baseball and it was perfectly clear (no bubbles or imperfections at all). It was in the shape of a half bowl and I started shaping it between my palms. About 40 minutes later I had a small disc that looked very nearly like a magnifying glass.

Sure enough, I was able to concentrate the sunlight through it enough to make a little white dot on a piece of paper and a few seconds later it caught fire.

How cool is that? Fire from Ice!

NZ Expat said...

While we were out tramping last week, my husband was remembering a 65 mile hike that he did as an 11 year old in Boy Scouts (that would have been in 1955). He led younger boys on a similar hike when he was 13. He has a long catalogue of skills he learned on his was to becoming an Eagle Scout.

So he was quite excited to see his son (born in 1990) begin Cub Scouts. He quickly saw that the son was learning no such skills. Then when we went to visit him on Parents' Day, at Boy Scout Camp a few years later, we saw all sorts of secret mumbo jumbo and imitative "Indian" ritual. I was upset and ready to pull him out and take him home then. I remember muttering, "Why not play "Orthodox Jew" or "Amish camp"? My husband doesn't remember any such antics playing a big part of his experience.

My son quit the next week, with my blessings. He wasn't learning outdoor or survival skills and there was a petty harrassment of the smaller and gentler boys, with the adults looking the other way.

Too bad. Scouting was a large part of what steadied my husband through his growing up years.

egregious said...


Fire from ice. That's an amazing story.

I'm impressed that you took 40 minutes to shape the ice in your hands. Artistic temperament?

Btw are you going to kos in August?

egregious said...


That's quite the long hike for a child!

I agree w yr assessment of the Scouts, they became urban, tame, and oriented toward fundraising.

My son learned a lot of skills but only because the dads were real gungho exscouts themselves.

One daughter knows wilderness survival skills including all emergency wilderness medicine. V cool stuff.