Memories from Mexico City Girls’ Camp
Now that summer is heating up where I live, my mind is drawn back to my experiences going to Girls’ Camp as a young woman. I spent my teenage years living as an ex-pat in Mexico City, where I attended an English-speaking ward in an otherwise Spanish-speaking stake. Because ex-pats generally left town to visit family during summer vacation (my family included), I only went to Girls’ Camp during my first two years and missed it every year thereafter. But there are three specific memories that I have from my second year at camp that stick out in my mind.
1 – Because I didn’t live in the Intermountain West, we didn’t have any official Girls’ Camp facilities or campgrounds. There were no pools, no volleyball courts, no archery ranges. We didn’t have cabins or mess halls or picnic benches. We didn’t even have running water, let alone electricity. We simply went up to a patch of land somewhere in the mountains surrounding Mexico City and pitched a camp. My second year at camp, we camped with just our ward (we were holding it earlier than the rest of the stake in hopes of getting most of our ward’s youth to come) and we ambled up the mountain roads to a clearing. There were about fifteen of us camping, plus a few leaders, so we pitched our five or six tents and then were called over to help with our first “camp project.” We were each handed a shovel and shown where to dig. What were we digging? Our latrine, of course! We were told to dig one foot wide, three feet long, and three feet deep, and we were shown a tiny stool that we could perch upon (with our buttocks dangling off the back) if we preferred to sit instead of squat. There were blankets thrown over branches on two sides to afford the user some privacy. I have never met a group of girls who became so quickly adept at holding their bladder and bowels in my entire life.
2 – That same year, all of the Beehives were sent out on a hike for a “team-building activity” while the Laurels stayed behind. Apparently the “team-building activity” was actually “collecting dried cow manure to fuel our fires,” but it did build a sense of camaraderie and disgust among the girls who participated. The Laurels had their own “team-building activity” while we were away: they went through the bags of the Beehives, found all of our underwear, and hung it high in a tree. We were absolutely mortified when we returned, dragging bags of manure, to see the newly-crowned “Panty Tree” decorated in all its glory. As we sat there, stunned, one of the Laurels came up to me and threw her arm over my shoulder. “You must have known this was coming, because you hid your underwear so well that we couldn’t find it! Bravo!” It was only then that I realized that I had totally forgotten to pack underwear.
3 – On our last night, we had all settled into our tents and finally fallen asleep. Our tents were all clustered on one side of a clearing, with the cooking area behind us in the clearing, and the makeshift latrine on the other side, far away from both the tents and the food. Very early in the morning, well before dawn, we were all awoken to the sound of movement and clattering. Something was moving through our camp, and making quite the ruckus as it did. Sure that we were under attack from either a bear or a serial killer, I had my friend quietly unzip the tent to see what was happening. She looked out and quietly whispered, “It’s not a bear, but I can’t really tell what it is. Come look!” And there, in the middle of the clearing, illuminated by only moonlight, was a man pushing a cart full of machetes. We quietly watched, frozen in terror, sure we were about to be hacked to bits, as he pushed his cart across the clearing and then off into the woods. Our leaders came and checked on us afterwards, probably aware of the panic that had gripped us, and assured us that he was probably just pushing his wares towards town, where they would be sold in the market. Regardless, I didn’t sleep another wink that night and packed up camp with an extra jolt of energy the following morning!
These stories may not be the traditional stories of a Mormon Girls’ Camp, but I feel like we all have camp stories of crazy things that happened, or that bonded us to each other, or that proved to us that we can do hard things. I’d love to hear any Girls’ Camp stories that people have – leave them in the comments below!