What we remember from childhood we remember forever as permanent ghosts — stamped, inked, imprinted and eternally seen. As I examine my life, I understand this, and as the leader of Girl Scout Troop 889, I’ve tried to craft experiences that will linger in the memories of the children. Some of our classrooms aren’t classrooms, you might say.
I want my girls to have a plethora of moments: modeling in a fashion show, enjoying afternoon tea, raising money for charity, presenting the American flag, reading interpretively at the Memorial Day commemoration and participating in Chumash rituals at Descanso Gardens.
Yet the pursuit of an experience for its own gratification is not entirely possible. The residuals of happenings are memories, and memories are what are left behind when something happens and doesn’t completely un-happen.
My troop has been backpacking in the mountains for four years. Each year I’ve tried to build on the previous year’s experience. Writer Wilfred Blevins tells us to “give our heart to the hawks” in order to capture the rapture of life. Subsequently I’ve always believed that some of our recollections should include going beyond the pavement.
For the ladies of 889, the alchemy of becoming young women is at hand; consequently, I want to leave them with something more than an intellectual understanding of wilderness. Last week the Scouts did a four-day backpacking trip into the high country of Yosemite National Park. As George Eliot wrote, “We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.”