Last weekend I spent an overnight at a Girl Scout Camporee with my co-leader and seven 8-year old Brownies. It was our first time together as a troop for the school year and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had just come off of a vacation week of solid “together time” with my own personal 8-year old.  And by “together time” I mean “up my ass time”.  You know what they say: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”  I was hoping we were all going to have an awesome time, but I was prepared for a bunch of needy little girls.

Or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation"

Or “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

The overnight turned out to be so much fun. The event was very well run and there was very little down time for the girls.  They were on the go the whole time.  To be honest, I ended up feeling so much better about my own child after a weekend with other kids her age.  All the behaviors that I see in my daughter –the ones I love and the ones that drive me nuts –they’re all normal!

Here’s what I learned about 8-year olds from this experience:

They’re not babies anymore. These girls are heading to third grade with an air of independence.  They seem almost mature! They are so capable of doing STUFF. Some of that independence even rubbed off on my not-so-independent girl.  Say what you will about peer pressure, but right now it’s a good thing.  She saw the other girls not clinging and trying new things.  And off she went.  The girls were polite and listened to the older Girl Scouts in charge. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and willingness to try new things.

They’re still scared of lots of stuff. You know, like a dark creepy cabin in the woods.  At night.  Each and every one of them slept with their flashlights on.  All. Night.  But I have to hand it to them-no one cried for their moms. Not that there would have been anything wrong with that, but they handled being away from home like champs.

They want to be more grown up than they are. Case in point, the PJ Party/Dance Party.  Boy, did they push the limits with those dance moves.  All hips and various gyrations.  So when did they turn into little Demi Lovatos and does no one do the chicken dance anymore?  I have to admit it was really cute watching them in their footie pajamas trying to dance like a sexy teen diva. Trust me, we’re safe.  It doesn’t work. (Thank goodness!)

They all whine. Oh my gosh, do they whine! “I wanna go back to the cabin!” “I don’t wanna be in the cabin.” “I’m sooooo hungry.” It was SO good to know that it’s not just my kid.  Everyone has their limits.  For some, those limits are just reached sooner than later.

They all have a death wish. Ok, maybe it was just this particular group.  Our one rule for the overnight was “No bleeding.” They seemed bound and determined to break that rule every chance they got.  Whether it was touching things they shouldn’t (hello hot glue gun) or climbing to the top of everything they could (giant stacks of chairs, rocks, bigger rocks), these girls added a few more gray hairs to my mix. The good news is that I only had to use one band aid out of my first aid kit.

I’m glad they’re not the 7-year olds. As much as our busy troop of personalities kept me on my toes and exhausted me, I am glad we’ve moved on to the next phase.  They do seem more mature this year.  And seriously…those 7-year olds were nuts.  The theme of the overnight was Candyland Adventure, so of course there was a lot of candy available to the kids.  Add sugar to a bunch of 7-year olds and it’s like adding nitro to glycerin—BOOM! Bless their troop leaders.  I think they needed a drink on Sunday.

Thankfully, she couldn't eat THAT lollipop! Photo: K. Stevenson

Thankfully, she couldn’t eat THAT lollipop!
Photo: K. Stevenson

If you ever get a chance to take seven 8-year olds camping in the woods, I would say, “Seize the day” and do it. I loved watching them have a great time and came home with a sense of relief that my kid is going to be just fine.  This is what 8 looks like.  And that’s ok with me.


Look what I did at Girl Scout Camp! So Proud. Photo: K. Stevenson

Look what I did at Girl Scout Camp! So Proud.
Photo: K. Stevenson