Rows of tents lined the fields at the Union Mills Homestead in Silver Run as 600 girls gathered for the annual Girl Scout Camporee, the highlight of the scouting year.
Camporee is an annual weekend of silly songs, games, the big campfire, crafts and one night under the stars.
"No water, no mud, remember the buddy system and the number one rule -- have fun," Laurie Friedel hollered during the opening ceremony Saturday morning.
Friedel was the 1998 Camporee chairwoman and is troop coordinator for Carroll County.
Throughout the year the Camporee carrot is dangled as girls make trinkets, called swaps, which are hooked onto their hats and traded throughout the weekend. They make "situpons" in case the ground is wet and they want to stay dry. And they write silly songs and plan wholesome pranks against troop leaders or other troops.
"We have a marshmallow fight planned," confided Danielle Staccone, who belongs to Troop 1348 in Silver Run.
"Don't tell that, everyone will know. What we like the most about Camporee is sleeping in tents and the booths," said Lisa Stoner, offering a "safer" answer.
Craft and activity booths highlighted this year's Camporee theme, Girl Scouts of the World.
For several hours, girls roamed from table to table where they could make their own travel Mancala (Troop 516), practice using chopsticks in a gummy worm relay (Troop 307), or enjoy a bubble gum blowing contest or learn Chinese jump rope (Troop 660).
There was also a booth to make Japanese dragons (Troop 669), or race like a tourist in Australia, eat an orange and toss the peel in a kangaroo pouch (Troop 88).
And on the sultry 90-degree day there was the oh-so-popular trip down the Nile River, where the girls relayed wet sponges (Troops 1863 and 598).
"Every year it gets bigger and more fun," said Shelli McLane, who has 25 years invested in scouting, as a scout and a leader.
She and members of her Troop 815 donned purple hats with swaps they had made all year. Rag dolls, bed rolls, critters, a beaded circle symbolic of the Circle of Friends and beaded lizards dangled from each cap.
Veteran campers had the day so precisely planned, they had most of the comforts of home. For example, girls in Troop 88, led by Claudia Keating, mother of Hillary Keating; Chris Biddenger, mother of Jesse; and Sue Williams, mother of Jackie, voted weeks in advance to have tacos for dinner Saturday.
While neighboring Troop 436, led by Anita Erb, mother of Lauren and Amanda, and Linda Hewitt, mother of Alyssa, were happily dining on hot dogs and macaroni and cheese (and planning creative cuisine for next year), Troop 88 filed down a taco bar complete with all the trimmings. Last year they had lamb kebobs.
Later that night, Linda Koons, mother of Kelsey, delivered ice cream for sundaes under the stars. The next morning, mothers who couldn't camp with the troop brought in fresh fruit, coffee and coffeecake.
With or without the comforts of home, it was 24 hours that hundreds of girls, mothers and a few fathers will always remember.
"I wish we could start this day all over again," said one camper as the sun slid down behind the trees.
Pub Date: 5/20/98