Marching uniforms from this year. We have matching white knockoff Vans too. WE WERE SO ADORABLE. Our uniforms are always the most adorable. :)
I got back from GAM, my Girl Scout nautical competition yesterday. If you've read my past couple posts, you'll know that GAM has been a major hill/turning point/stumbling block in my faith. I've been in charge of getting my troop ready, and it's been really hard.
At GAM, they have a test in International Nautical Code Flags, Compass Points and Relative Bearings, timed knot tying, advanced knot tying, Weather and Tides, Emergency Preparedness, Rules of the Road(nautical right of way), a song/sea shanty competition, and swimming races. They also have a judged Sailing for form, rowing for form, canoeing for form, and kayaking for form. Another event is Message to Garcia, where a message is sent between semaphore(flag signaling), morse code, and carried by a canoe. The last event is marching, with a random command section and a pre-choreographed performance.
So as you can see, there's a lot of work to be done each year. Usually our troop doesn't prepare and just crams on everything the night before. I really wanted to change it this year, so I took charge. But it was an uphill battle just trying to get everything together, encouraging people to study, people's schedules were clashing. I prayed and read my Bible and tried to trust God everyday, and it didn't seem to get any easier. I was frustrated and confused because I was trying to understand God's plan but couldn't. I tried to trust God but kept falling back into the old pattern of worry.
The final rank/points are as follows:
14 troops participated this year.
Catboat 0-60.9 Brigantine 180-224.9
Sloop 61-109.9 Clipper 225 or higher
Schooner 110-179.9 Golden Clipper Most points
They also give Top Ship(first place) awards to the troop with the most points in each event.
Our troop usually gets high Schooner or low Brigantine, and somewhere around the middle in the final ranks. Our official goal this year was to get Clipper, but I, as the leader, never mentioned it. Last year we got 180.65, making Brigantine by a fraction of a point. In order to get Clipper, we had to improve by over forty points, which seemed like an impossible goal to me. I didn't want to raise our hopes to have them dashed. My highest hope was that maybe we'd make a decent improvement and be on a step up to maybe get Clipper in a future year.
Semaphore practice from last year. You can see the another' troop's campsite in the back.
I was the one encourage/annoying everyone to practice and study, in a Hermione-like fashion. I was determined for our troop to do our best. I wasn't just encouraging it, I pulled out practice tests, made flash cards, carried about ten ropes everywhere, quizzed people randomly, worked with individuals to prepare, etc.
On Friday, only 3 out of 7 people were there to help set up our campsite, including me. It was a lot of work. It was a very long walk from the parking lot to our sand patch on the beach. We had to set up our tent, lash stuff together, get all our food and gear arranged, dig holes for the boundary markers.
GAM is also fun because of the camaraderie among the different troops. We never get to see other high school troops, so it's always great even though we're competing. We shared our campsite with a troop named MSS Aquila. (Our troop is called Crossroads.)
We had the opportunity to take the Emergency Preparedness paper test on Friday, and since we usually run out of time on Saturday, we took advantage of it. I made my troop go as our pizzas arrived, so when we got back they were cold. :3.
We finished at around 10:45, and crammed for Saturday's tests until 11:30+, and slept.
Saturday was a big mash up of cramming, running from test to campsite to beach for boating, to pool, to campsite for lunch, to roll call, etc. I'd forgotten how exhausting it could be. I pushed everyone really hard. We had about twenty minutes for lunch mid way through the afternoon. One girl just conked out at the table and we had to wake her up to keep competing. Swimming was alright. We finished last in some events, and middle in others. We had a really good backstroker on our team so we won that race.
During Message to Garcia, the semaphore senders messed up on one letter, but I messed up on four. This was a huge humiliation for me because usually I'm the one nagging everyone else to study. I had reviewed my morse code flash cards all through last week and that morning :'(. So that really sucked. It was a timed event directly against other troops and the pressure was on.
Canoeing race from Sunday! I'm in the front holding my paddle ready.
Then knots-We had been really stressing about knots, taking pieces of rope in the car, to other events, etc. to practice. The knot test involves tying ten knots in 2min30 secs, with a time bonus if you tie them all correctly in one minute and thirty seconds. In the past, we have had two girls get perfect scores, both in different years. This year, we had three, with Jordan getting the time bonus for the first time in Crossroads history! The other girls did okay, with the lowest score being a 4/10, which isn't great but definitely not as bad as past years.
Our campsite stays pretty much the same, so this is ours from last year. You can see our troop banner, our tent, and the fence we made with bamboo poles and line.
Code flags was maybe just a little better than last year, but Compass/Relative Bearings was a nightmare. The relative bearings were mostly right but every single compass degree we got wrong. Plus, we took so long that we were up against the last 40 minutes of competition time by the time it was over, and we still had Weather/Tides, Rules of the Road, and Advanced Knots(Marlinspike) to complete.
(All tests except boating were first come first serve by any troop in any order.)
We split our group so that three people would take the remaining paper tests and Jordan and I would take the advanced knots.
At that test, there weren't even the requirements on a piece of paper. They just handed us a bag of rope and said "Go." Luckily, we remembered what we had to do and even did the extra credit splices/knots before the test time was up.
I wish we could say we stopped stressing once the majority of the tests were over. But we still had to do the Sea Shanty performance after dinner and had no choreography for it yet. Not to mention marching Sunday morning. The events had all been pushed back half an hour after swimming, but the evening events weren't, giving us less time to eat. We went to a restaurant, which seemed to give us an excruciatingly long wait time, and order time, and food bringing time. We choreographed part of the Sea Shanty in the meantime.
When we got back, many troops were already seated at the campfire. We still hadn't rehearsed full out. I told everyone to run like heck back to camp, change, and rehearse. We decided to be a little late to campfire if it meant more practice.
We quickly ran through our sea shanty once and then had to go. We missed roll call :3.
Last year's campsite with a beautiful view of the bay.
When we went up to perform, the sun had just set on the bay and the lights of the buildings in the distance reflected on the water and it was just beautiful. Ours, a troop named Horizons, and a troop named Conchilla's sea shanties were the only solemn ones. There were a lot of parodies this year--including "Down", "Spongebob", "It's Raining Men", "Under the Sea", and some Aladdin song. We had two well trained singers and some others with experience, so we sounded pretty good. Even though we had no harmony and no choreography for the verses. People told us we sounded beautiful after, and I decided to take their word for it. Then, we retired(burned) an old, holey flag in a ceremony in front of the other troops.
They day had gone so fast I couldn't believe GAM was almost over. We went back, tiredly practiced marching a couple times, and slept.
Sunday morning felt weird because there was nothing to cram for. I woke up at 5 AM feeling listless and stressed out. I wasn't sure how well we did on Saturday, but I did know it was pretty much too late to change anything. I didn't dare to hope. I realized I had barely talked to God on Saturday and felt bad, so I prayed for God's plan to come to fruition. I remembered that he only had our bests in mind. And that he cared more about my personal growth than my comfort, any award or rank or ego stroke.
I busted out my sandy ipod and listened to "Blessed Be Your Name" and "Your Love Never Fails", my theme songs for the past couple months. I had to eventually wake everyone up cause they wouldn't wake up on their own.
. We had to wait for the marching leader to get back from prom before we could really practice, but we ran through it a couple of times. Flag Ceremony was at 7:30, and boating started at 8.
Our troop owned the two boating races. coming in first at both rowing and canoeing with a good lead. While we were waiting for the mystery race to begin, I convinced the others to go change into our matching marching uniforms and shoes so that as soon as Jordan and I were done, we could run over and maybe have some time to practice our march before it was time.
It was God's grace that we were in the first heat of the fun race(gives us more time to run and change). The theme this year was the first annual Hunger GAMs.
Yeah. This was what we had to do. Each pair had to run to the "Cornucopia" (aka a wall) and grab a card with our heat number and district(troop) name on it. Then we had to run to a pile of oars, canoe paddles, and kayak paddles, and randomly grab a pair of equipment without knowing what boat we were taking later. Then we had to go to a knot board and tie three random knots. After that, we had to decode a three letter message made out of code flags and answer three Girl Scout trivia questions. Our "stylist" would then give us an envelope with a boat name in it, and we had to pick it and use whatever paddles/oars we grabbed to somehow get it in the bay, around the buoy, and back.
We chose to grab canoe paddles, and by God's provision, we were given a canoe to use. We're both best at canoeing so that was a plus. We came in so far first it wasn't even funny ;D. By the time the other tributes were getting out of their gate, we were already coming around the buoy and on our way back.
Don't mean to sound stuck up...I'm so unused to winning any sort of contest it was totally awesome :D
Here's our marching video. Hee hee. Guess which one's me XD.
Marching is one of my favorite events at GAM. We get to dress up in ADORABLE uniforms, march, and watch all the other troops march! We were called up near the end, and were kind of nervous. We did well, with a couple notable mishaps at the random portion. Our routine went excellently! We accidentally practiced a couple things wrong and had to change them at the last minute, so considering, we did splendidly!
Then...what we'd all been waiting for. The awards. They interspersed the First Place awards with the Overall awards. We tied for first place in Kayaking for form with a couple other troops. Which we expected, but were also excited about. Right after that, I was surprised when Jordan and I pulled the first place in Canoeing for Form!
We weren't expecting any more first places after that, since they didn't give one for boating races, but we screamed and squealed when they called us up first for Weather and Tides! The ten-minute, notoriously difficult paper test that we squeezed into the end of the day cause we cared about it so little! They barely even studied for it and the questions are crazy hard! It was so out of the blue, it could only be God's doing.
Lauren whispered to me "If we get Clipper, it'll be the best year ever. I think I'll faint."
The Overall awards are listed by rank, in order from lowest to greatest. We bit our nails all througout the Sloops and Schooners. When the got to listing Brigantine, we waited to hear our name...but we didn't!
"Oh my gosh"
They were calling REALLY GOOD troops up. Mariner troops that studied ALL YEAR LONG for this.
And they hadn't called us up yet! Did they forget? Could we really have beat those troops?
When she announced that they were moving on to the Clippers, we were near speechless with excitement. "We got Clipper oh my gosh we got clipper!!!!!!!!!!" everyone whispered. "Shhh..."
We all sat on the edge of our seats...waiting to hear her announce the name of the first Clipper.
And it wasn't us.
When they finally called our name, the second to bottom Clipper, I went up to get the award.
"You guys did really well this year!"
I mumbled thanks, and half cried/half stumbled my way back to my seat. Our throats were worn out from screaming.
We ended up getting third place overall. Of fourteen troops.
It still hasn't really sunken in and made sense yet. There are troops that like I said, study all year. They have mandatory GAM meetings that you have to attend or else they bar you from going. They make you sign contracts. They literally step on their freshmen.
We have none of that. Our studying consisted of me-assisted cramming and the past two months of prep meetings that half the people attended.
And we beat them! 8DDDD (at least for one year...all the other troops were shocked. We're like..freaks of nature.)
This year's semaphore sender practice!
The past couple months, I've written and prayed about GAM in my Bible. Prayed at youth group. Prayed with my online friends. Before and after every meeting, I prayed lying literally face down on my bedroom floor, begging God to show me his will. And he did.
I learned so much. About being dependent on other people, being a leader. Holding my temper and working hard. Dealing with annoying people and conflicts with friends and motivating others and myself. Being determined even when I felt like collapsing or panicking and screaming at the top of my lungs. Trusting God through everything.
Praise and glory be to God. His love really is unfailing! :D
Even though I walk
Through the valley
of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
and even when I'm caught
in the middle
of the storms of this life
I won't turn back I know you are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no you never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no you never let go
Through every high and every low
Oh no you never let go
Lord you never let go of me.