Ohio to California: Our Camporee Journey

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Follow Ohio Troop 39691 on a cross-country train journey to an international camporee!

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Ohio to California
Girl Scouts of North East Ohio

Our Camporee Journey

During July of 2015, our group of 8 girls and 4 adults took a 10-day trip to Pleasanton, California for the California Dreamin’2 International Girl Scout Camporee. There were girls from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, and, of course, California. We prepared for the Camporee for a year and a half through fundraising, practice campouts, and monthly meetings. Our group consisted of 8th-11th grade girls and adults from all over the North East Ohio council.

To get to Pleasanton, we decided to take a train across the country. For us, though, it was really two trains. On July 24, we boarded a train to Chicago at 5:00 in the morning after a three hour delay. While in Chicago, we visited the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council building and ate some deep-dish pizza before boarding our second train from Chicago to Emeryville, California. This train trip lasted 56 hours. We all slept in our coach seats and spent most of our time in the Observation Car, which had windows from the floor to the ceiling. However, most of our time spent here was spent playing cards or talking to friends that we had met along the way. Each person had $20.00 to spend each day on food in the café car or the dining car. All of us, especially the girls, befriended the café car worker at some point during the trip from because of how often we would go get a snack or meal. The train had fantastic views throughout most of the trip, and at one point hit an elevation of 18,000 feet above sea level while in the Rockies, which is a little under half the height of Mount Everest. The train ride there was an overall interesting experience, and I believe that most of us would definitely do it again, but possibly with a sleeper car next time.

When we arrived in Emeryville, it was around 4:00 in the afternoon. From the station, we were bused to the campground in Pleasanton, which was the local fairground. Our campsite was 40 feet by 40 feet. We had six tents, two pop-up awnings, two tables, 12 chairs, tarps, and kitchen equipment. The campsites were organized into four rows, and those four rows into blocks of teams. On the first night, the host troop on each team organized a meet-and-greet, where we, as in the girls, discovered that the group of girls in the site behind ours was from England! We bonded with this group, and many others, throughout the course of the trip and some of us still stay in touch with them now.

Each day of the Camporee had organized activities through the day and the evening. On Monday, there was an opening ceremony where the national flags of all present countries were presented, staff was introduced, and information was shared. The evening activities included a DJ dance party, an improv group, games, a movie night, a concert, and a camp song showcase. This was a great way to relax after a long, hot, fun filled day. The beginning of the week the temperatures hit 101 during the day. Fortunately it dropped back down to the 60’s as the sun went down.

Prior to the camporee everyone chose an offsite excursion and two workshops. Tuesday split the camp with half the girls and leaders heading off to their offsite excursion while the others stayed for in-camp workshops. Some of the choices were glass etching, t-shirt weaving, Zumba, belly-dancing, golf, dichroic glass pendants, and video game design. The whole camp toured San Francisco on Wednesday. We were given a scavenger hunt and a map to follow from the San Francisco Ferry terminal where we were dropped off. Our walk took us through Chinatown, Little Italy, to Coit Tower, Lombard Street, and to Fisherman’s Wharf, ending at Pier 39. We ate lunch in Chinatown and we had gelato in Little Italy. Thursday split camp again, and our group went on our offsite excursions. Some of us went on a trip to Alcatraz. The rest went to glass-blowing in San Jose and a walk through Japan town, a chocolate tour in San Francisco, on a visit to the Winchester Mystery House, surfing, and on a bike tour through the local town on Pleasanton, where we were staying. On Friday morning there was an iron chef competition. In the afternoon the whole camp got bused to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk., There we could go to the beach, shop, and ride rides. Saturday included an in-camp fair with crafts and inflatable slides and a closing ceremony. Sunday was our last day and everyone packed up to head home or continue their trip on their own.

We had a very fun week overall although we did have some obstacles throughout our stay. The two major issues were food deliveries and travel. We ordered all of our food from Safeway and got new deliveries almost daily. When they couldn’t provide what we ordered, they made substitutions. For most of the groups, substitutions were not bad, but ours were very frustrating. One of our orders asked for boxes of chocolate granola bars, and they sent us peanut butter. Thankfully, we did not have any peanut allergies. Another order asked for 14 muffins, which was enough for each of us and then some, and we were sent 8. One other thing that we had a problem with was camp transportation. Buses would be late, too small, and would leave without people. One example of this would be when we were being transported to the airport on Sunday. They provided us with a 12-person van to fit us and all of our bags. We had to work as a group to overcome these obstacles and, despite these minor setbacks, it was a fantastic trip.

Overall, this journey was a wonderful experience. All of us girls bonded with each other as well as with all of the adults. We learned about different ways of fundraising, traveling, and living. We saw new landscapes, met new people from across the country and around the world, and tried new activities and forms of travel. We learned things about each other as well as ourselves. We solved problems, worked together, and earned some useful life skills. Most importantly, though, we had what is probably one of the best times of our lives.