Saturday, 9 May 2009

Campfire's burning... campfire's burning

Well I'm actually feeling pretty rotten at the moment; a whole host of emotional stuff, pneumonia again, randomly earache, and the n key on my keyboard has decided it needs to be hit with a surprising amount of force to work. As is my wont this has meant little cookery has taken place this week as has little eating. Fortunately tea and biscuits - all hail the chocolate coated, malted milk (and fie upon Sainsburys for not stocking them) - has sustained me until today when I have been able to flop.

However, a couple of weeks ago, we had a district event for the Brownies and Guides; Circus Skills at our Pack Holiday house/ Campsite to celebrate it being open for 75 years. The girls had an amazing day, learning to juggle, walk on stilts, spin plates, ride unicycles, and a whole host of other activities. For the Guides, there was a special 'Backwoods cooking' activity, where they had to lay, light and cook over an open fire. I was quite keen that all of my Guides had a go at this as we're camping at the end of term and as in the most part I have a very young Guide unit so we don't have the opportunity for the elder girls to take the lead on Patrol cooking and the younger ones to learn that way.

We raced down the field in our flowery wellies (yes, me too) to the end by the woods - Pauline (a fantastic Guide Guider) led the activity and at first I was worried, two of my girls M & C were terrified of the matches they needed to use, not even wanting to strike one. Another pair Ma & D were much more ready to get going, but needed help sorting out their punk. Punk is dry leaves and tiny twigs that you use to get a fire started. As always I worked with the girls gently, encouraging them to sort their fuel, and just keep going with the matches. After half an hour, the wind died down and M & C got their fire started, it's amazing when you see something just click with them. And all of a sudden their fear evaporated, they added bigger and bigger sticks, and as is so often the case with Guides, as they realised their achievement, they began to adore this new skill, feeding their fire and toasting marshmallows, popping popcorn and even trying out dampers! The wind was not being kind to Ma & D who had to use some paper to get theirs started as each match blew out. But as Pauline explained to the girls, if you want to eat then sometimes it's good to have a back up plan! Again their fire needed some tlc and we all learnt quickly how to blow gently to reignite it if an overzealous amount of sticks have been chucked on, or if the wind picks up. Ma & D made dampers and toasted marshmallows too, much to their old Brown Owl's delight.

I should explain what dampers are really. In the Australian outback, cattle drivers would carry flour and water, and make a bread dough from that (I use self-raising) which they could cook over a fire on sticks. We wind the dough around our sticks and dip the cooked bread in jam. The girls love it. (I've had to google for a picture, as the smoke covers the dampers and you can see the childrens' faces in mine)

Another camp food I adore, are camp bananas; which forunately for me can be recreated over a BBQ - leaving your banana in it's skin, slice it in half lengthways leaving the very bottom still together. Then slip squares of chocolate inside the banana before wrapping it in foil, and placing either over the BBQ or in the embers of your campfire. As the banana warms through the chocolate melts and the resulting gooey mess is a camp banana. Lush.

I think I've mentioned on here before that I initially began as a Brownie Guider, moving on to Guides as a favour (and naturally, not leaving) It's days like this when I realise why I stay, to see young women achieve so much from something fairly simple that they just don't have the option to learn anywhere else gives me such a sense of achievement, and seeing them learn and grow (I've known some of these since they were 7) is just astounding.

On camp and days like this one I run mainly on coffee and tea, this day was no different. I stank of woodsmoke on the car ride home, and was only too happy to stand under a long hot shower - still smiling as I thought of my girls, certificates in one hand and 'one last' damper in the other and started to get really excited about camp this summer. Fingers crossed for better weather this year!


Jules said...

Sorry to hear you are having a rough time at the moment. Sounds like you had fun away cooking on the campfire.

I really should get back into Guiding.

Take care

Penelope said...

I work on the basis that the day life gets easy, I'll either be dead or bored! But the campfire was fun. You should, especially as it's our Centenary year...

There, one click away for you :-)


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