An egoist. It should go without saying, but the last thing you want in your leader is an egoist. Ahem. All memoirists with blogs named after them needn’t ever apply. Yet here I am, a Leader. Of girls.
The fact that this coming weekend away hiking in upstate New York begins with my searching Pinterest for “hiking outfit spring cute” is a telltale sign that your daughters are in sturdy capable hands.
MARSHMALLOWS DON’T MAKE LEADERS; THEY MAKE S’MORES
In taking fourteen girls camping this weekend, I got to thinking that of all the mothers of these girls—doctors, bankers, teachers, accountants, managers—I’m the most ill-equipped to be a leader. The antonym of control freak, I’m a non-committal marshmallow. I leave everything to the last minute, having a steadfast belief that everything will work out. Even if it doesn’t, so what? We’ll have a good story.
I’m a believer that the worst of times are the best of times. Think of any family vacation where things went terribly wrong. Where you had to sleep on the floor of a train station because the travel agent mistakenly confused AM with PM arrival times, where you were forced to share a bathroom with lactose-intolerant strangers, where the bus to the hotel broke down and the driver in his broken English warned whatever you do, do NOT leave the bus. Our worst memories of things gone wrong become our best, most retold stories.
When deciding what to pack for a camping weekend, I don’t consult the weather, a hiking guidebook, or even a hiking essentials list. No. I scour Pinterest because seriously, what do you wear with hiking boots? Hunter rain boots are a no brainer, but brown hiking shoes that basically look like rock turds? What even goes with them? No, aside from pale unshaven legs.
After breakfast, we’ll be in the woods, our heads covered with hats or bandanas, to keep critters out. I’ve always envied the women who can pull off the bandana kerchief. I always look like an orphan. Or an albino Jamaican nurse. We’ll be working on team-building activities like the trust fall, where we blindly fall backwards off a ledge as our teammates catch us. Ropes courses suspended between trees. Then lunch followed by canoeing in a lake. Dinner. Then a night hike looking for nocturnal animals, and a campfire.
In the past, I’ve had to plan every meal, how many ingredients needed to be purchased, which kitchen tools, baking brownies in a cardboard box, making cobbler in a dutch oven, how to divide the work and the girls. But for this trip, I only need to come equipped with song lyrics, road-trip car games (I’m anti-electronics), and lots of improv games for at night. Because that’s what I’m best at: improvisation (a.k.a. without preparation). It’s my best leadership skill: winging it.
When it’s all over, there will be a cafe and a wine carafe for reflection and insight. For now, though, there’s packing and Pinteresting to be done.