First aid, Dutch Oven cooking, gathering kindling and exploring nature are all part of camping.
Last weekend at Cape Blanco State Park, a group of Girl Scouts from Coos Bay, Port Orford and Gold Beach were learning all the aspects of camping, from setting up and tearing down tents to first aid training.
They’re preparing for a camping trip in August — the Girl Scouts are celebrating their centennial with the Northwest Centennial Roundup in Sweet Home, said Mark Stueve, who helps with the Coos Bay scouts.
“It was kind of a group decision (to camp last weekend),” he said. “Bring older girls across the South Coast together.
“We’re doing our best to be ready for a weeklong camp.”
The girls, ages 10 and older, started the morning by preparing camp, which included setting up their eating area, tying up their plates and silverware in dunk bags for washing, and learning to start a fire.
Greg Ryder, from Oregon State Parks, was on hand to teach the scouts techniques for fire-starting.
He had the girls gather kindling from the forested areas around the group campground, and showed them how to arrange the twigs and sticks in the fire pit. Then Ryder asked if any of them had ever started a fire with matches.
Most of them chimed in with: “I’ve done it with a lighter.”
So Kelsea Lockwood, 10, stepped up to try out the matches. It took her awhile as she was fighting the wind, but she beamed when she finally got a match to stay lit.
Then they worked on keeping the fire going — adding oxygen by blowing on it, dumping more sticks on the pile — before Ryder departed so the girls could eat lunch.
Another fire was ready cooking the stew, as a group of girls made dumplings on a picnic table. Alissa Holcomb, 12, was thrilled to lead the cooking process.
“I learned how to make dumplings without using precise proportions,” she said.
It was her first time camping — that she can remember, anyway — and she was excited to be on the trip.
“I like being outside,” she said.
But Kelsea goes camping every August with her family, so she was a seasoned veteran. Her favorite part of camping?
“I like the food,” she said excitedly before diving into her dumpling soup.
Stueve said it was great to have a mixture of experience among the campers.
“There’s some that have been camping for years, and some that this is their first camping trip,” he said.
Michelle LeBlanc, who also helps with the Coos Bay Girl Scouts, agreed.
“A lot of our girls in this group have never camped before,” she said. “I know I have one that is afraid of dirt.
“It’s a good mix,” LeBlanc added. “It’s a good way for the girls to get to know each other before the big camp.”
Excitement ran rampant among the girls, who had lengthy discussions about camp songs and funny-named camp foods (banana slugs, made with bananas, marshmallows and chocolate chips, was a favorite, along with hobo dinners cooked in foil).
“The ones who haven’t been camping a lot were very excited to come out,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc looked at Cindy Myers, who helps with the Gold Beach group, as they decided the girls had given up gathering kindling and were just chasing frogs.
But that’s part of the camping experience, too, Myers said.
“What’s the point of learning outdoor skills if you’re not enjoying it?” she said.
Outdoors Editor Rachel Finney can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 237, or at email@example.com.