Girls Camp – a Guest Post by Princess Sparkley

11/5 – 11/6

So this year for girls camp, Mom and I woke up extra early and walked to our subway station. We got breakfast from the food cart right outside (Mmm… so good! And greasy!) and then rode the subway. I won’t bore you of exactly where we transferred, etc. because unless you’re Buddy or Little Guy or my dad, you don’t care. Anyway, we ended up at a transfer to Line 15, where my mom dropped me off with my friend Amelia, and her mom, Sister WI, who is the Young Womens president in the other branch. We were supposed to meet Ellie from the other branch there too, but she couldn’t come.

Amelia and I on the Line 15 train.

Line 15 goes above ground once you get out far enough to Shunyi (Shunyi is about 2 hours from where we live, and it’s a suburb of Beijing where a lot of the embassy people live). It had snowed the night before, (this is the kind of thing that happens when you have your girls camp in November) so we had an awesome view of the snow covering everything. Then we got off the subway at our stop and walked outside in the snow where Sister P was waiting for us in her car. Annika, Paris, Sister Dickens, and Sloane were already there. (Sloane isn’t really a young women, she’s Sister Dickens’s super adorable baby.) We drove to the 3rd branch leader’s home, where all the Shunyi girls (all 10 of them, compared to the two in my branch) were watching Good Luck Charlie. When we got there, they handed out camp t-shirts, camp notebooks, and bandannas for each cabin you were in. I was in a cabin with a bunch of girls I didn’t know. Remember that for later. Then we all got our coats back on, and climbed back into the car to drive to the “camp” site.

Amelia was in the other car by this point, because we were so squished.

I almost puked on the way up, but other than that, the drive was uneventful. When we arrived we discovered that the cabins were actually hotel rooms at DUCK AND GOOSE CAMPGROUND. (Why they call it a campground beats me.) It was sort of set up like one of those Motel 8 rest stops with a courtyard in the middle. (Hey, I’ve never been to a Motel 8 motel, I don’t know how they’re set up.) Each “cabin” was two stories with two beds on each level. The downstairs bathroom had a locker room type shower and a tiny closet I am pretty sure was a sauna. (Why have one in the bathroom? I don’t know.) Upstairs had a full sized bathtub. Oh, and each room had a pretty good sized TV. We were really roughing it, I bet you can tell. When we got there, it turned out that both Ellie, and a girl from Shunyi couldn’t come, so they re-arranged the cabins, and I got put in a cabin with Amelia, Ella, (my friend from the U.S. of A. who also moved to Beijing.), and Ella’s friend Aderyn. They gave us a little time to unpack and then we played some get to know you games. The first day, since it was all snowy, they planned a lot of activities indoors, so we had a craft activity/place. I made the following:

A washi tape bracelet that will not stay washi taped.

A cute scrap fabric headband.

A really hard to make bracelet. (No idea how to explain it, here’s a picture with it in it. It’s the pink one.)

A little bit of a scrap ribbon Christmas tree that I gave up on

Also, Amelia and I helped stitch some of the quilts we cut the fabric out for the Tuesday before, that we’re going to donate to Little Flower. Then it was time for fire safety. (I’m pretty sure that came before knots.) We started a fire, reminded ourselves of the basics, etc. Turns out that we were paying 400 Yuan for every fire we built at camp, since it was on DUCK AND GOOSE’S property, so we had to make that fire last. Not only was the area around the building all sand, it was also wet sand from the melting snow, so we had to build our fire on some tinfoil. When we were talking about what we could do if the fire got out of control, I suggested picking the tin foil up and running to the nearby pond to dump it in.

After the fire stuff, Paris’s Dad, Brother S, taught us some knots. He was a way better teacher than the guy last year, and I mastered two of the knots, and can sorta do the other. As a reward, we all got paracord bracelets. He told us about how much weight they could hold, and then told us that since these were Chinese ones, they could probably only hold 40 pounds or so.

Next was that glorious time of day, frequently called dinner. For dinner, we had hobo dinners, (which, to Will’s disappointment, is not eating dead hobos) salad, and hot chocolate. Literally no one ate the salad. Even the grownups didn’t want it. The only thing worth noting is that a hot coal burnt a hole through Aderyn’s plate, and started on her pants before she noticed. Then we had peach cobbler, and sang camp songs, and played NEVER HAVE I EVER. Then we all had to do the dishes, (AWWW!) drink more hot chocolate, and go to bed. They told us that 9:00PM was lights out, so until then Amelia and I hung out, and when Ella and Aderyn showed up from where ever they’d been. We all went upstairs and watched a Chinese TV show starring Steve Irwin on their TV, while we chatted. The leaders came through and called us to their room so that they could sing us a song, give us earrings or hair clips, and tell us to seriously go to bed at 9:00. I don’t think anyone followed that. We sorta kinda tried to, but it was too hot upstairs for Ella and Aderyn, so they came down and slept on the floor between Amelia and my beds, and we chatted, and finally fell asleep at around 11:00.

The next morning, true to their word, the leaders woke us up bright and early, and we had scripture study and breakfast. Two dogs (I’m not sure if they were wild or not) came and watched us, and Nyo and Annika threw bacon to them. Then we made pack lunches for the hike, and got kicked out of our room by the cleaning ladies, who gave us no warning at all. Then the hike began!

Hiking! Yay! I’m the one who’s turning around with the pom pom hat.

Our first stop was a movie set, which we explored. There was a wild cat there, who was scared of us at first, but then let Paris pet her. Paris named her Fuzzy.

So cute, right?

Eventually, we had to go, but Fuzzy kept following us. Ella and I decided to re-name him/her Mushu, and we made up a whole plan for how it could be a time share cat between us.* Then we found another movie set and a giant snowball fight ensued. (Also the kind of stuff that happens when you have Girls Camp in November.) Nyo, Paris, and I noticed Mushu/Fuzzy (Mushu is a better name, I think) in the forest watching us, so Nyo went up to try and get her to follow us. Instead, she tried to lead Nyo away, so the leaders made us go back. They told us he probably lived at the farm, so we couldn’t adopt him, which was sad but sorta probably true.

Nyo trying to pick Mushu/Fluffy up.

Turns out DUCK AND GOOSE CAMPGROUND is kind of fancy when it’s open. We passed closed tennis courts, closed archery ranges, some ostriches (I’m not kidding about that. Seriously, there’s a picture of them later in the post) and a closed go-cart track. There was a rope bridge that you had to cross, which was super cool.

Ella and I are the two girls waiting to start crossing the bridge.

We kept walking for ever and ever until we finally got to the mountain we “wanted” to climb. Wanted is in quotations because at the top we found out we had been aiming for another much shorter mountain with a pagoda on top, but had gotten bad directions from some people. Well, at least the view was pretty.

Lots of fall leaves.
This is the view from the very very top.

It was steps all the way up and back down, and our legs were all virbrating when we got back down. We started hiking back to camp, I fell and got my foot stuck between the slats on the rope bridge, but I got it out again and then we took a detour to see the ostriches. Someone tried to feed the ostriches some of their left over chips, which is when Livi said the best quote from all of camp: “We’re feeding Chinese ostriches junk food. This is such a good Girls Camp!” – Livi.

This was the closest I got, because I didn’t want him/her to eat my dad’s phone.

Then we also saw baby sheep, Shetland ponies, and donkeys. It was awesome, but the Chinese farmers had no idea why we were so excited! Nyo started a craze of feeding the donkeys hay, so the donkeys all liked us for feeding them.

Here’s Ella petting one of the baby donkeys.

Eventually, we went back and drank lots of hot chocolate. (We probably made Swiss Miss millionaires on this one camp alone.) Next was supposed to be skits, and my team started planning ours, (It was going to be a super awesome Shoulder Angel one) but someone had the idea to do a dance routine, so they did that instead. Both Nyo and I were nervous to join, but I told Nyo “I’ll do it if you will!” so we both did it. We had a yummy dinner, then we sang some camp songs, had testimony meeting and packed up. We said goodbye to everyone, Nyo and I treated Annika and Amelia to an impromptu rendition of the milk song, (one of the many very weird camp songs we sing here. I don’t know if they sing them anywhere else) and Sister P and Annika drove me (well, Annika didn’t drive, she’s not old enough) to the WA’s house, where Mom and Dad picked me up and we went the rest of the way home.

The Group

ZE END!

Except for this video: https://youtu.be/Qgo9xEkA-dc

It’s really fuzzy, but I really just took the video so you could see how cute Mushu/Fuzzy’s meow was. Also, I like how you can hear Paris say “I want to pick it up!”

And this picture:

It’s sparks flying off of the hot chocolate thing, I think.

*N note: Like my favorite book, Part-time Dog!!

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