Before Blogs, There Were Diaries

People ask me all the time: “How did Outdoor Afro begin?”

Quite frankly, it began in the pages of a diary I wrote up when I was about 9,  and continued sporadically into other diaries over the years, until I became a young adult, when I discovered newsgroups, email lists, then finally blogs.
Here is the start of an entry that painstakingly detailed a Girl Scout camping trip at Hidden Villa Ranch, captured in vivid, youthful detail after arriving home. Click for larger view:

I wrote, “It was so fun. It was the very first camping trip I ever had. When we first got there, we had a big argument over cabins and we finally got a cabin! I think our cabin was the livest [sic] one of all…”
The entry goes on to share about our various adventures on the trip, such as night time walks to gaze at stars, doing “capers”, the food, and the songs we sang. I remember it all vividly.
The six-page cursive-written entry ends with plain-text song lyrics from our trip and me lamenting , “wish I could go back for another night.” Click for larger view:

What a difference camping makes in the life of a child.
What a difference it made for me.
Did you keep a journal or a diary as a child? What sparked your passion for the outdoors?

Can Scouting Dissolve Barriers to the Outdoors?

Scouting organizations are a solution for families who may not know how to begin to engage with the outdoors. These historic organizations provide the infrastructure, knowledge, and the equipment that takes the guesswork out of outdoor exploration.
Even though my own parents were “country folk”, they were not campers. It was my experience with the Girl Scouts as a kid and later with Outward Bound as an adult that expanded my joy, technical savvy, and ecological perspective about the outdoors that I am now able to pass on to my kids. Even though the scouts have had some negative press in recent years, our troop experience has been nothing short of amazing and relevant for the growth and development of my son Seth, and I have been welcomed as a parent volunteer.
I just got Seth and three of his fellow Troop 24 members off to Wolfeboro this week, a Boy Scout camp located near Yosemite. His troop has had a tradition of visiting the site each year since the 1920’s. While driving up through the forest, I remembered fondly my own trips with the Scouts as a girl, recalling the whispered secrets and giggles that went on through the night under the stars, and the adventure of hiking and singing along lush mountain trails. Those experiences were a foundation for the passion I have for the outdoors today. For my 12 year old son, this is his first extended “roughing it” trip without me, where he will not only be sleeping on the ground, but also managing the responsibility for meal preparation and chores with his fellow troop members. He is getting a big dose of the natural world, while also learning about self sufficiency and peer group leadership — lessons for a lifetime.
Contact your local scouting organization to learn more:
Girl Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America

Spiral Scouts