Ally bridged from Brownies to Junior Girl Scouts. She went on her first Junior Girl Scout camping trip. They went to Camp Oak Hills (click to see their Facebook photo gallery). We’ve never taken the kids camping because while I love nature, I don’t enjoy camping. The type of camping I would enjoy makes it senseless to even call it camping. I wanted to go on this trip with her, but at the same time, I really wanted her to experience it without me. This type of camping isn’t as primitive as peeing outdoors or a tent on the ground in the middle of nowhere (it’s platform tent camping), so my decision wasn’t based on the fact that I don’t enjoy camping. I’ve done many things with the kids that I didn’t necessarily enjoy, and it’s never a problem and never something I dread (well, there are times that I am impressed that I made it through something without pulling my hair out). I simply do it because I feel I should and with an open heart. But I decided that I wanted her to have her own memories that didn’t include me. I thought about when I went to safety patrol camp as a kid and I cherish those memories. It’s fostering her independence and as a mom, there’s so few opportunities to slowly let the kite line out at a controlled speed, so the kite can soar.

The camping supply list was long. Thankfully, a list was provided because I definitely would have forgotten to pack rain gear. We went to Thomas Trading Post for her new vest and required patches and insignia. We bought a vest that’s a bit large for her because she’ll have this vest for a couple of years and there are outdoor events that require her to wear it outside of her winter coat (booth cookie sales and parade). Then we decided to get her a t-shirt, jacket, hat, book and water bottle. Damn that place. LOL

I felt like I packed her for a week instead of two nights.

It was so strange not to have her here. She’s been away from home for sleepovers before, but this time I felt a void and I spent most of the time that she was away hoping she was having a really great time. I kept checking the clock and imagining what she might be doing. I decided it was a good time to start major decluttering to prepare for back to school. I worked on purging her old clothes and organizing her bedroom, so I could surprise her when she got home.

She came home chattering all about her trip. She had so much fun. She got to build a fire and cook on it, went swimming, kayaking, canoeing and got chewed by mosquitoes even though she used bug spray and their platform tent had double mosquito netting. They did activities and sang songs. She bought her brothers and sister each a souvenir and was given some new badges. She bought herself a cute little camouflage headband and a mini backpack. She brought her own little camera, so I added some of her pics to the gallery, too. She didn’t have much time to take many photos and some of them were blurs or taken at night. Oops. Later, I’ll probably add some photos (and by some, I mean a few and not hundreds) from when she was in Brownies last year since I haven’t shared them before, and I’m waiting for the troop leaders to send me pics, too.

Ally is special. I know everyone thinks their child is special. I think all of my children are special. But she’s a special kind of special. Okay, all of my kids are a special kind of special. HA-HA. But seriously, she’s amazing and larger than life. She’s completely unstoppable and has so much strength, endurance and determination. It’s like she can do absolutely anything. She has this incredible way of plowing through challenges and the light that shines from this child is both profound and frightening.

I know she will become exactly what she sets out to be. She’s this steamroller and everyone better get out of her way. Her will to be her very best (not necessarily the best, but her best) in everything she attempts is wonderful to witness. She stands out in a unique way that is very difficult to describe. But you’re drawn to her whether you want to be or not and whether you like her or not. She doesn’t blend in, she’s the focal point and there’s simply no way to be unaware of her presence because she shares her light with everyone around her. Her enthusiasm and energy are contagious.

She hasn’t learned to filter her thoughts to words (maybe she never will), so everything comes pouring out of her at a fast rate. You feel her energy whenever she speaks. She lives life, doesn’t hold back and plays full-out. And by full-out, I mean she gives her all to the point she’d die for her goals. She’s that self-driven. She doesn’t know how to give up. She came home from karate tonight and said she thought she was going to pass out in class from her workouts. It made me sad that she pushes herself so hard, but she chooses to press on and not stop. Her metabolism is so high that she can out eat all of us. She’s always challenging herself and talks about next time she’s going to do this or that. And as her mom, part of my job is to preserve this, channel it in any and all positive ways, steer her clear from the same mistakes I’ve made, encourage her to find new mountains to climb, and make sure no one and nothing diminishes that light. Because without it, I wouldn’t recognize her anymore. It’s what makes her my precious Ally. She makes everything look so easy, but I know everything isn’t a piece of cake for her. She simply makes it look that way because she doesn’t let anything get in her way and she never stops trying to improve herself. To watch her learn something or experience something new is a joy. I don’t know how long scouts will fit into her life, but for now, she likes spending time with her friends.

I’m happy that I was able to let her go alone. I even fought going there later the first night to visit and picking her up on departure day instead of letting her friend’s mom drive her home.

It’s time to take the Disney Princess wallpaper border down.