Let me set the scene by saying that we had 8 chaperones and 15 girls. For the most part, each canoe had an adult chaperone paddling from the back, a scout paddling from the front, and a scout sitting/relaxing in the middle of the boat. The goal was to paddle to a meeting place, stop for lunch, and then the two girls would switch places before we headed back to our main dock. So, the scout who paddled on the way to lunch would relax in the middle of the canoe on the way back.
Lucky for us, we had a mom with us who was a rather experienced canoer (Mom T). I got a little nervous when I saw the look on Mom T’s face as she was asking our guide some of the details of our trip. After they were finished talking she turned to the rest of us and said, “Save your best paddler for the ride back.” Gulp – what did I get myself into?
After a little lesson from our tour guide, as well as Mom T, it became very evident that there is one main rule for canoeing. That is, stay seated at all times. As my girls were getting into the canoe, we played a game called ‘repeat after me.” It goes like this. I say, “Repeat after me.” They say, “okay.” I say, “I will not stand up in the boat.” They say, “I will not stand up in the boat.” Repeat 100 more times.
Not to be discouraged I climbed into my canoe with Lulu and her friend K. Lulu and Friend K paired up at the start of the trip. Having to select the stronger paddler between the two (which is like the proverbial test of choosing between a rock and a hard place), I selected Lulu as my strongest paddler. After all, Lulu is a cheerleader and she is a stunt base which means she spends the better part of her practices lifting other girls, throwing them into the air, and catching them. Thinking that this takes a bit of upper-body strength, I select Lulu as my best paddler and heeded Mom T’s warning and saved Lulu for the way back. Thus, Friend K and I headed out into the river as Lulu relaxed in the middle of the canoe.
I need to stop here to give props to Friend K who turned out to be the best paddler of the group. We were one of the last canoes let into the water and we were one of the first to arrive to our lunch destination. And, she didn’t even complain one little bit – she was awesome! Friend K – you can canoe with me anyday!
So, we stopped to have a nice lunch!
Then, we got back into our canoes and headed back to the main dock. Remember the ‘main rule’ as it will come into play shortly. We got about 20 strokes into the water and Lulu announced that her arms hurt already. Oh yeah, that’s my girl. NOT! This continued for quite some time and then Friend K suggested that Lulu and Friend K switch places. They proceeded to sit in the boat in front of me and actually strategize on how they are going to do this… without standing up! The whole time I was informing them that Ms. Napmom is not going to entertain the idea of allowing them to switch places so they need to stop talking and Lulu needs to keep paddling.
Meanwhile, Mom T was in a canoe with her two daughters: a bitty 1st grader and then her 5th grader. Apparently, she did not heed her own warning as her bitty first grader was paddling back and the 5th grader was relaxing in the middle. Mom T asks what all the commotion is about in my boat. I inform her that Lulu’s arms are tired and that the girls want to trade places. She quickly responds, “Oh no.” Ok – so there you have it. If Mom T (experienced canoer) says that we can’t do it then we aren’t doing it. Period. The end.
No sooner do we get past this discussion then I look back to check on Mom T and low and behold I see that Scout 1st grader has switched places with Scout 5th grader. Traitors!
This got Lulu and Friend K all excited. “See,” they tell me, “We can do it. Pleeeeeeeeeease?” Somehow the word “FINE” came out of my mouth and then the girls put their plan into action.
If you ever need to switch places in a canoe then this is how it’s done. Read carefully. Friend K lied down flat in the boat and Lulu inched her way back to the middle of the boat (essentially sitting on Friend K) while Friend K inched her way to the front of the boat. Next thing I knew, everyone was back in their preferred seating location and we were headed towards dry land.
When I got home, Fairy Grandmother actually had the guts to ask me if I took a picture of this exchange. What are you crazy? I had to remind her that I have been using her camera, since mine is in the shop, and I didn’t need to fall in the water with her camera in my hand. Admittedly, I do wish that I had a picture because those girls were so cute!
Three Things I Needed to Know About Life I Learned While Canoeing with Girl Scouts
- 5th graders are very smart people.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover (Friend K was the better paddler, by far).
- The great outdoors can be a very cool place.
And let me leave you with this little Lulu ha-ha.
So, she was wearing her shorts and tank and started to pretend like she was running. She asked me, “Mom, who do I look like?”
“I don’t know,” I replied.
“Ms. Amy,” she said, so matter of factly. (Note: Ms. Amy is our neighbor who is always about to run, running, or coming back from a run.)
Then, Lulu put on a life jacket (while still pretending to run) and said, “Mom, who am I now?”
“Um, Ms. Amy with a life jacket on???” I replied.
“No,” she says, “David Hasselhoff.”
Ba dum-bum ching!