Waiting in line for the ferry is usually the pits, but not when you’re traveling with Girl Scouts.
My Junior troop of fourth-grade girls spent a glorious weekend at Camp Lyle McLeod near Belfair this fall. We sang songs, built campfires, hiked, canoed and cooked over open flames. But, unfortunately, there was more than an hour wait to board the Kingston ferry to come home to Edmonds.
Another hour in the car before we could cross Puget Sound? Yikes! There are only so many balls of yarn a girl can finger-weave before she becomes bored during a two, now three, OK maybe a four-hour journey. Plus, all of us smelled like soot and were starving because we’d missed lunch.
Hungry, angry, bored, tired — every parent knows that is a recipe for trouble. At least none of the girls were angry. We had a fabulous camping trip, and everyone was still cheerful.
“OK troop, gather around,” I said as I popped open the back of my Subaru. “We’re having an impromptu tailgate. It’s going to be weird, but wonderful.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, we’d eaten plenty well on our adventure. The girls planned all of the meals themselves, and they did a fine job. We ate spaghetti and garlic bread Friday night, tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch, and a taco dinner on Saturday. What was in the back of my Subaru was leftovers.
“Are there any marshmallows left?” one of the girls asked.
“You bet.” I lifted the lid to the cooler. “But first let’s finish the hardboiled eggs.” The cardboard egg crate was soggy from melted ice, but the eggs were still cold. I passed them around the group.
“This is just like ‘Ramona Quimby’ by Beverly Cleary,” said my daughter, as she cracked the egg on her forehead. All the girls laughed, and many of them did likewise.
“Who wants Parmesan cheese?” asked my co-leader. She sprinkled cheese on the hardboiled eggs of every girl who raised her hand.
“I’m pushing baby carrots.” I took out the bag. “Who wants some?”
The fourth graders gobbled them up like baby rabbits.
“Can we have the leftover taco shells?” asked a girl who was rummaging around the food box. “They’re kind of like corn chips.”
“Good idea.” I searched for the half-eaten jar of salsa in the cooler. “We can have salsa tacos.” I tried to be careful, but as I poured salsa into each shell, some of it sloshed onto the girls’ hands. Now they were covered with soot, dirt, egg shells, Parmesan cheese and salsa. It was definitely time to add marshmallows to the mix.
“Let’s play Chubby Bunny,” one of the girls suggested.
“Let’s not,” I said. “I don’t want anyone to choke.” Girl Scout leaders are notoriously safety conscious.
By the time we finished eating every last marshmallow, it was time to board the ferry. “Jenny,” said one of the girls who was new to our troop, “that was the best meal of the whole trip.”
On my honor, she was right.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.