Lesson From the Lake

by Stephanie Logan


My experiences in Girl Scouts are some of the best memories of my childhood. And Girl Scout Camp was my absolute favorite time.

Our camp was primitive for anyone older than the Brownies. We had canvas tents, pit toilets and a cold-water communal sink as a bathhouse, and we cooked over an open fire that we built ourselves. Older campers didn’t even have the bathhouse.

And unlike the nearby Boy Scout camp – that we heard was bordering on luxury – we didn’t have a pool. We had a lake in the woods with a small dock, roped off swim area, lots of canoes, and newts. It was more like a big pond, but from my childish perspective it was a lake. I loved that lake.

From age 5 or so I took swim lessons. Before my parents’ divorce, at the Y and, after my mom moved us to a small Appalachian town, at the community pool where I completed all the levels before lifeguard training by age 12. 

I loved the water and swimming. Once I was brave enough to put my head under, I became good rather quickly. The water seemed to make the awkwardness I felt on land magically melt away. I swam so well by high school that the swim team and synchronized swimming coaches tried to recruit me but by then I was way too self-conscious to practice with or perform in front of guys.

But at Girl Scout Camp I was not encumbered by self-consciousness around my body. And we did way more than swim and splash in that lake. We trained most days for water and boat safety. We swam long distances, practiced floating and treading water for long periods, and purposefully paddled our canoes to the middle of the lake and flipped them. Then we would pop up in the air space underneath to use the canoe as a float or flip it back over, bail it out as well as possible, and paddle back to shore. As we sat around the fire after a day on the lake, we felt invincible. When we crawled into our canvas tents at night and tied the flaps shut, we just knew that we were tougher than the boys.

When girls reached the older camp, they also trained us in one special water survival skill so that if we ever found ourselves in the water without the proper gear we would know what to do. We would put shirt, pants, shoes, and socks on over our suits and jump off the end of the dock where no one could touch bottom.

When you jump into water fully clothed, you don’t slide in. You plunk and almost immediately your clothes begin soaking it in: filling pockets, shoes, and gaps and clinging and grasping to drag you under. It can be a battle to stay afloat.

We were taught to tread water as we peeled off our clothing, trying to keep both it and us from sinking to the bottom in the process.  At the end, we had to choose either pants or shirt and attempt to blow them up to use as a float. By the time we had successfully finished that last step, we were thoroughly exhausted.

When I was done, I would take a deep breath, let myself sink down into the sliminess of the bottom, then blow the air out pushing myself up to pop out of the water in a cool gush. Then I would float for as long as they would let me. I can still feel the tired satisfaction of floating in the coolness of that lake after proving my ability to my leaders.

The first four decades of my life felt a lot like that water survival exercise. I seemed so often to be flailing about, trying desperately to peel off what was dragging me under. And I was never very successful until a few years ago, when I was better able to recognize what I was fighting against and, waves and storms aside, it feels like I have been floating ever since. 

Former evangelical homeschool mom and one-time missionary and pastor’s wife, Stephanie Logan, aka Snicklefritz, writes from her life story and four decades of experience in the evangelical movement. Her views and stories are her own.

Copyright © 2022  snicklefritzchronicles.com


2 responses to “Lesson From the Lake”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: