"Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout"
Leadership. Camaraderie. Compassion. Independence.
These are the things I've learned from Girl Scouting.
In junior high, I was among the selected few who represented our region in the 11th National Jamboree organized by the Girl Scouts of The Philippines (GSP) on January 5-11. It was held at the grounds of Clarkfield, Angeles City Pampanga. It was also dubbed as the Philippine Centennial Scout Jamboree as it was coincided with the Philippine Independence Centennial.
There were about 15,000 scouts from 102 local councils throughout the country who have joined the event. The biggest campsite I've ever been into!
The General Assembly took place in GSP Headquarters located in Novaliches, Quezon City. Here, we were briefed on the activities and rules to follow and what we should always remember throughout the event. We also received our camping materials such as tents, sleeping pads, utensils, etc.
A convoy of buses brought us at the campsite the next morning.
We were divided into small groups. Members of each group are from different parts of the country. From Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao. I remember having a groupmate who could open a bottle using just her teeth while another girl has a lovely voice. We'll be with complete strangers in a span of several days and our main goal is to build a bond, friendship and trust.
|Our Group. 1st Day.|
As per official's direction, each team must stay together at all times and that we are responsible with each other. We have to sleep together under one medium-sized tent for 7 long days. We have to rely on ourselves because our dear parents are not around to assist and comfort us. We have to do chores like washing the dishes and doing the laundry. I hang up my clothes on the fence but someone took one of my pants. That sneaky thief!
I was chosen as the Patrol Leader of my team and my first task to designate who will cook what. Unfortunately, nobody knows how to cook. That makes fried and steamed dishes our main course throughout the week! With rice being half-cooked, most of the time. =D Anyway, I chose breakfast and Jhe for my partner. It does look like I'm escaping the hardest task of cooking lunch or dinner huh?! but I tell you, breakfast is the hardest meal to prepare in times like this. While everybody's having a sound sleep after an exhausting day, we have to wake up as early as 4am to start making fire and cook for the group.
Daily call time is 7 o'clock in the morning. We had maps, compass and a list of activities in which we have to complete within the day. Races, relays, arts and crafts, treasure hunting and a whole lot more. We also had a fun interaction with the Boy Scouts!
The campsite was a former Picnic Grounds and Equestrian Field of a former military base. Tall grasses and bushes were apparently cut down recently. There were old acacia trees around and snakes were seen everywhere!We even heard a girl from a nearby tent screaming on top of her lungs when she saw a little snake inside her backpack. I also had an encounter with it one night. I felt something crawling beneath my sleeping pad but I was too sleepy and tired to react, so I just ignored and let it pass through our tent. It's their territory anyways.
I also remember having difficulty taking a bath. The shower rooms were big it could simultaneously accommodate about 20 girls. Since it's a common shower, I can see everyone bathing. And oh boy, some girls just doesn't care, taking a bath naked! But I, being one from a conservative province, takes a bath with clothes on. I just don't have the guts to do the same! =D
One day, I saw one of my teammates crying, desperately looking for her wallet. It was missing and has never been found. As the team's leader, I felt responsible with what happened. I felt an urge within me to act and help her. We decided to share a little from our extra pocket money, just enough to get her home after the camp.
Surprisingly, our team was awarded the Most Compassionate Group during the closing program. We don't know who disclosed it. We're overwhelmed and can't believe that our simple act of charity was being appreciated by the GSP officials.
And on our school's commencement exercise, we were awarded The Most Outstanding Girl Scout of the Philippines. Cool!