Growing up, my mother was the epitome of the Girl Scout leader. We had a Brownie troop, a Junior Troop, and a Cadet and Senior Troop. We built fires and camped. We caught each other on fire and gained lots of real world first aid experience.
Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, we would rent out the lodge at the same Girl Scout camp for a week, and the different ages would take turns coming for their group trip. Since I was the leader’s daughter, I was there the whole time. The sleeping area of the lodge was one big room with “coffins” around the wall. The coffins were used for mattress storage, and then you would put the mattress on top to sleep. There was a big table set up in the center, and a kitchen and bathroom in the one tiny corridor. This setup made the lodge a perfect place to play sardines, which is like hide and go seek, but minus the go part and played in the dark.
In sardines, one person hides in the dark main room of the lodge while everyone else waits in the kitchen. After the allotted time, everyone stumbles out into the dark. When you find the hider, you join them, and the last person wandering in the dark loses. I loved this game! And the girls loved when I was it, because I could fit in the strangest places. I mean, anyone could hide in the coffins, and we frequently did, but there were places only a squishy three-year-old could go. And go I went! One of the girls would take little three-year-old me and hide me somewhere in the dark. Then all I had to do was stay really quiet, and I would win! It was the best!
They hung me in coats on big wooden hangers. Stashed me under boilers. I was up a chimney for a bit. They fished me out a while later covered in soot. It was a three-year-old’s dream. My mother was pretty much okay with it until the time they lost me.
One of the girls hid me, but then they all decided they wanted to go outside to play. They forgot to get me. I was doing such a good job hiding quietly, I fell asleep. My mother went looking for me, and no one could remember where they had stashed the toddler. My mother called and searched, but I had such a good hiding spot, it was no good. It wasn’t until I woke up to her frantic voice that I called out from the bookshelf behind stacks of newpapers and had to ask to be lifted down from the five-foot-high shelf. Hide the baby was banned for the rest of that trip. But as far as I was concerned, I was the Queen of the Sardines. I hid so well that no one found me. That, my friends, is a sardine win!