Things I Learned Around the Campfire…By Stacye Wyatt

Post written by Stacye Wyatt, Regional Sales Manager

Have you ever just sat around a campfire and listened to the crackle of the flame? Have you ever longed to just kick back and listen to the sounds around you?

campfire-2As a Girl Scout my fondest memories were sitting around the campfire, singing songs, roasting marshmallows, watching girls do silly skits, and passing on our traditions.

When you think about a campfire, what comes to mind? S’mores, songs, safety, relaxation, building a fire…or do you worry about tomorrow?

As a young scout leader I loved planning for our camp outs, taking the girls shopping and then making s’mores while we were camping. I only had 12 girls on average when we went camping. Who cared if they got marshmallows on everything from their sleeping bags, clothes to their hair?

campfire-4Certainly not me, I was just the scout leader. But then I became a camp director and my opinion changed DRAMATICALLY. No longer did I just have 12 girls to watch over. Now I had 75-100 girls…all of them wanting more, all of them wearing more than they got in their mouths and all of them too hyped up to go to sleep. (Did I mention I dislike s’mores? 🙂

As a camp director I rarely sit and relax. WHY? Because somebody who doesn’t know me trusted me with their child…their most precious gift…and they expected me to love and take care of this gift as if she were my own.

campfire-3When we have a campfire I usually find a stool and sit for a while. It’s one of those rare times when all the girls are sitting, usually playing with their flashlights (they’ve never seen or held one of these fabulous inventions, so they must turn them on and off, shine them at the sky, at their friend or at anything in the great outdoors).

The staff is all close and we’re in our element, with the flicker of a campfire, a song, a guitar, a marshmallow…our happy place…a magical place.

The skits are usually so silly that people laugh just because. The girls aren’t doing them to entertain me. They’re doing them to get the rare opportunity to get up in front of a large group and act silly. Mission accomplished.

Girls just want to have fun and act silly.

campfire-6Guitars are rare at camp these days, unless I can beg one of our alumni to come play for us. Girls don’t seem to take lessons like when I was a youngster. I would have walked on fire to have the opportunity to have a guitar and lessons.

My favorite part of the campfire are the songs we sing. Did you realize that most kids today don’t know the words to America the Beautiful? What do they learn in music class? Oh the girls love the silly songs with the actions to go with them.

I’m sure that the Canadian Mounties don’t sing ‘The Princes Pat’ near as well as a group of sticky, s’more-high Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts. At the campfire it doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune or if you don’t know the gestures or the words.

At the campfire, there is no judgement. Only happiness.

campfire-5At the campfire there are traditions passed down from older women to our younger sisters. About 12 years ago, I was blessed to get to know a group of older scouts who can sing and play the guitar, who have a love for traditions, for nature, for scouting and for a campfire.

This group of women taught me so many songs, some that we only sing at Girl Scout camp, some that I remember from my childhood, some I heard my mom sing and some that just light a fire in my heart.

But my very favorite is one that the younger generation of scouts don’t know. A lot of songs came out of the 60’s during a time of protest. Power and Glory is one of those. But when I listen to the words I remember why I love Scouting, why I love America and why I am who I am. Do you know the words? Here’s s just a snippet:

Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall
Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all

campfire-7So what have I really learned around the campfire?

I’ve learned that I can build a fire, literally and metaphorically. That if I have no heat I can stay warm with a few sticks and a match.

That I can inspire a youngster to care deeply about something besides her iPhone.

I can feed myself something warm if I have a campfire, even if it’s a gooey mess.

I can be me and that’s all that matters. I don’t have to impress anyone around the campfire.

I’m reminded of the lessons I learned from my Papa Bradley, who taught me that hard work pays off…that all things worth having require time, practice and patience.

I’ve learned that we’re all role models. Whether we like it or not, someone is always watching and desiring to be like us.

I’ve learned that traditions and history are important in developing a strong foundation.

I would never trade the flicker of the campfire, the lessons I’ve learned watching a flame glow in the dark…lighting my world…inspiring me to be me.

What about you? What have you learned sitting by the campfires of your life?