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Comments on Puzzle #38628: WPC 187 Worst Girl Scout camping trip ever
By Susan Eberhardt (susaneber)

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  version: 2    quality:   difficulty:   solvability: moderate lookahead  

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#1: Susan Eberhardt (susaneber) on May 14, 2024

Oh! What a Camping Trip!

Part One

During the time I was a Girl Scout leader, a job I had undertaken to benefit my daughter Amy, I survived girls punching each other, an assistant leader who usually failed to show up, my own toddler running wild through the cafeteria where we held our meetings and the cruelty that pre-teen girls inflict on each other. Near the end of the third year I’d had enough. We had one more camping trip to get through, though, and I decided to make it the trip of trips, our swan song. This time I wouldn’t ask the girls to plan the trip themselves only to listen to their wrangling and whining. This time I wouldn’t make the futile effort of urging them to create work schedules and stick to them. This time there would be no pretense of letting them pick the campsite and activities, of expecting them to take the responsibility to fulfill badge requirements. There was a difficult badge that most troops didn’t attempt or took three years to complete, Outdoor Cooking. I’d get my girls to qualify for the badge on one camping trip whether they wanted to or not.
You had to use four different cooking styles and four different types of equipment. You had to construct some type of cooking apparatus and use it to make a meal on the trail. There were six requirements in all, as I remember. I started to make elaborate plans and lists. I made a reservation at a campsite, only an hour away, where we could build a large fire without any restricting fireplace. I recruited another mother to accompany us, since my assistant was again unavailable. We spent the meetings leading up to the trip making paraffin burners out of tuna cans and portable stoves out of number ten cans, talking about the menus and making sure everyone had her personal equipment in order.
Wednesday before the trip, the recruited mother called to say she had a singing job on Saturday and couldn’t go camping. I appealed to all the other mothers in the troop and found no one willing to go with us, so it looked as if the trip would have to be cancelled. Then I had a brainstorm and signed up my husband as a Girl Scout leader, paid his dues and insurance fee. Our ten-year-old son would have to accompany us, and one of the troop mothers agreed to take my toddler for the weekend. We were back in business.
Some of the menus were the most elaborate we’d ever attempted. Friday’s dinner, the easiest: hot dogs cooked with sticks over a charcoal barbecue followed by s’mores. Saturday breakfast: pancakes on the propane camping stove. For lunch we’d take a hike and use the tin can stoves to cook packaged hikers’ meals: pasta and a dessert of fruit cobbler. Dinner was the real Herculean effort: Cornish game hens on a spit, stuffing, cranberries, baked potatoes and corn cooked in foil, apple pies baked in Dutch ovens. It would require a large bed of coals, careful timing and cooperation. My husband, Peter, and son, Richard, would enjoy building the fire—they love fire. I thought I could manage the timing. Cooperation among this bunch was another matter. For Sunday breakfast we could build a small campfire for the girls to make scrambled eggs in their mess kits and bread-on-a-stick.
I did the shopping on Thursday and packed carefully. This was much bulkier food and much more equipment than we were used to hauling. Thursday night I packed my own and my daughter’s personal gear and then lay sleepless for hours of anxiety. I worried the hens wouldn’t thaw in time or would thaw too fast and seethe with salmonella, that they’d take too long to cook or burn on the outside leaving the inside raw, that the girls would, as they usually did, make too much noise at night and attract the disapproval of the ranger, that it would be too cold this early in spring, that we would encounter a rabid raccoon, deer ticks, gnats, a skunk. I hoped the latrine at this site wasn’t too horrible. On our first camping trip, one of the girls refused to go to the bathroom at all until she couldn’t hold it anymore and then insisted on being in the middle of a field where no creature could sneak up on her, and in the dark the other girls and I surrounded her for privacy. On that trip, as we walked along the dark trails from the common campfire to our tents, these girls, who often seemed to hate me, clung to my clothes as if to let go would send them shooting out into space or into the woods never to be seen again. There were two sprained ankles on that trip, and one cut finger. On one October trip there was snow.
#2: Wombat (wombatilim) on May 14, 2024 [HINT]
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#3: Web Paint-By-Number Robot (webpbn) on May 14, 2024
Found to be solvable with moderate lookahead by wombatilim.
#4: Susan Eberhardt (susaneber) on May 14, 2024
I see the whole comment didn't get entered. I'll fix it soon.
#5: Susan Eberhardt (susaneber) on May 14, 2024
Stories continues: We couldn’t leave till five o’clock because that was the earliest my husband could get home from work. At noon, clouds began to gather. Between packing the cooler and hauling the gear to the door, I checked the weather report. It didn’t look good.
Amy and Richard arrived home from school.
“Mia says she might not go. Her mom thinks it’s gonna rain.”
“What’s the matter with that? We’ve camped in rain before.”
“That’s why she doesn’t want to go.”
At four o’clock the wind picked up a bit and the sky darkened. The phone rang.
“Are we still going, Mrs. Eberhardt? They say the weather’s gonna be awful bad.”
“Of course, Nicole. We’re Girl Scouts.” You had to reserve these campsites months in advance. A huge amount of food was sitting in my front hallway. It was now or never.
At four thirty my husband got home and started packing. Girls and their mothers began to arrive at our house. Brandi’s mother called to say she couldn’t get the car until five o’clock and would be fifteen minutes late. The rain became heavier, the sky darker.
“Shouldn’t you postpone this thing till next week? It’s turning into a monsoon.”
“It’ll pass. We can’t get the campsite next week and some people have other plans.” The phone rang: probably Mia’s mother.
No, it was a man’s voice. “Is this Susan Eberhardt?”
“Are you supposed to go camping this weekend?”
“This is Joe at the campsite. There’s a problem. The police found the car of some woman on our property and they can’t find the woman. Maybe you shouldn’t come; there are cops all over the place.” I had to make him repeat it twice. Maybe it was a prank call—a brother of one of my girls. I called the Girl Scout office. No, they hadn’t heard of any trouble, but they’d get back to me. Mia and her mother arrived.
“Mia, I’m so glad! Amy said you might not come.”
Her mother looked grave. “I could hardly see on the way over here. If it keeps up you really should cancel.” Compared to my images of an ax-wielding maniac, a monsoon seemed tame. There were now nine girls and two mothers, volunteer drivers, in my kitchen, teasing my toddler, complaining about the math teacher, inspecting the contents of my refrigerator and cabinets. My son hid in his room. Brandi didn’t arrive until five thirty, when the phone rang again.
“You were right. Cops are investigating; you can’t go; but there’s a cancellation at Ludington. Should I tell the ranger to expect you?” Ludington was a half hour farther away. Of course there would be a cancellation. You had to be crazy to go camping in weather like that.
“What happened?”
“I don’t know exactly; they’re searching for a missing woman.”
“Okay. Tell the ranger we’ll go to Ludington. We can’t get there till seven at the earliest, though.”
“Right, but don’t make it too late. He’s supposed to be off duty after six.” I hung up and explained to the group there was a change of plans but didn’t mention missing women or murderers. Some groaned, remembering the latrines at Ludington; some were relieved to go to a familiar campsite
To be continued . . .
#6: Web Paint-By-Number Robot (webpbn) on May 14, 2024
New version published by susaneber.
#7: Wombat (wombatilim) on May 15, 2024 [HINT]
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#8: Web Paint-By-Number Robot (webpbn) on May 15, 2024
Found to be solvable with moderate lookahead by wombatilim.
#9: JoDeen Mozena (ozymoe) on May 15, 2024
I can't wait to find out what happened!
#10: Jota (jota) on May 16, 2024
Oh Oh!
#11: Barb Edwards (babarann) on May 18, 2024 [SPOILER]
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#12: Kathy Roth (clydie) on May 18, 2024
Love the series!
#13: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on May 19, 2024
Yikes! What an adventure!

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