I am not sure whose idea it was to pull the prank at the camping shower for Girl Scout Troop 954, but I knew I would not ever forget it. I had been on the annual camping trip for three years and looked forward to it every time.
There was a core group of us who served as lookouts for each other while one person was in the camping shower.
Portable Shower Lessons from My Mother
My mother had given me a stern lecture before I came the first year about feminine care and bird baths. This is the name my grandmother gave to those touch-up baths that you take at a sink, washing only your major personal parts. For the first camping trip, my mom had packed a large container of handi-wipes that we normally used for hands. She rubbed near the areas I should wash with her hands, reminding me that it was my responsibility to stay clean as a budding young woman.
This reminded me of the time she talked to me about my first menstrual cycle. Yes, she explained the process of the unfertilized egg moving through a fallopian tube and into my uterus and how the uterine lining flushed itself each month. This was the quick part of the conversation. She spent much longer telling me how to be discreet and clean. It was my duty as her daughter to stay clean.
She acted like there would be a special camping shower tent where I could go and perform these rituals in private.
Although many of us wished for the privacy we could have with a portable shower, we understood that cleanliness in the woods was less about finding a space to shield yourself from the eyes of others and more about safety. We could not wander away so that our troop leaders could not find us.
The Camping Shower Set-up
The camping site itself held about 60 troops at a time, and each troop was filled with 12 to 30 young campers. Each troop leader tried to reserve a campsite closest to the centralized bathrooms and camping shower stalls to make it an easy hike to modern conveniences.
In year four, our troop was determined that no one would bully us. The girls from the great state of Arizona made this difficult. One fateful day, our youngest member, Denise, had to go.
I tried to be diplomatic and tell the older girls from the Arizona troop how urgent Denise's need was. They laughed and said that if she had an accident, she could get to the shower after their entire troop, which was about 24 people, was done with their showers. It took so long, Denise wet her pants.
The Big Camping Shower Payback
We were all seething mad about what they did to Denise. The next day, we all got up three hours early in the dark to beat them to the stalls. We made sure Denise used the bathroom twice so that she would not have to go for a while. Once we were all washed and our bladders empty, we sat and waited for the Arizona troop to arrive for their morning showers.
Brandi, who was the brainiac of our group, had figured out how to control the water. She chose to shut the water off. We kept up the camping shower shut-off until we left that year. We had to be sure not to say anything about this to our troop leaders.
The biggest lesson we learned as a group that year was how to bond together and stand up for one another. Any other project we had for the rest of our time as scouts with Troop 954 was smooth because of the common bond we formed around standing up for ourselves at the camping shower.
What I learned for myself was yet another way to implement my mother's instructions for creating your own portable shower. My mother had equipped me with handi-wipes and other small feminine products. I could have a camping shower wherever I decided to go.