SC7777 American Heritage Girls


We hit it out of the ballpark this weekend. Our PiPas who attended this joint event of AHG and TLUSA had a memorable and rewarding experience.


Our patrol (team) had never participated in an event like Night-Ops.  Just as the name suggests, Night-Ops, is a competition where patrols perform tasks based on their knowledge of certain outdoor skills such as: navigation and orienteering, fire-building, first-aid and safety, etc; all without an adult on the team.  We thought we had a pretty good working knowledge of these kind of skills, boy, were we wrong!

We attempted to practice some of the scenarios to “brush up” on our skills before taking the competition by storm and we found that we were woefully deficient in the skills department. Not only could we not execute, we often did not even know what kind of skill was needed for a scenario. We were embarrassed by our lack of knowledge and we did NOT like the feeling of being inadequate and not able to really compete, because we like to WIN!

We had a leader in Trail Life, USA and American Heritage Girls to advise us and agree to come and do a skills training for us on Sunday before the competition. Mike and Nicholas (TLUSA members), spent about 2 hrs with us and taught us the skills necessary to compete. WHEW! We flew through that 2 hours pretty quickly, but on the other side, we knew we could do the skills enough to make a showing.

With our skills in our pockets we were on to the next item, it was all about attitude. We needed to get it into our heads that we could compete and not be totally embarrassed or laughed at or worse: LOST in the woods at night!

lost in woods

OK, Ok, ok…we weren’t terrified of being lost and spooky things happening to us, but we were afraid of being in these woods and not seeing a path, trail, landmark that could help us navigate to the next station. Remember we had just learned how to read a compass, 4 days prior; we weren’t confident in that skill at all.

Our patrol leader, had a bit of a break down before competition began. She was feeling the pressure to perform with her shaky skills and she told us she would rather go on home than start. We prayed with her, we encouraged her, we bribed her…don’t judge. We needed for our leader to step up and how. She couldn’t let her team now, they needed her!

We looked good getting ready for the competition that day. Our team had their special shirts on, their hair tied up in cute bandannas, they had their face paint in place. They were ready.

There were 14 patrols that night: 8 TLUSA and 5 AHG.  Each team had to navigate with map and compass only to 6 stations and perform a variety of tasks and move on. Each patrol was judged on stealth, teamwork, skills, and attitude. Many patrols came to our station (water rescue) loud and argumentative, others came quietly and calmly. We had 2 that we didn’t even hear approach (stealth at it’s best).

My 7’s team found our station with relative ease and seemed tentative but willing to move on to the next station.  They consulted their map and made a plan and were off.  At about 2:30 in the morning, I get a frantic call from our patrol leader that they are lost in the woods and did not know how to get to the next station.  You could hear the panic in her voice and strain in her words: she was about to break.  I, of course, asked her what station had she previously competed and she said Knots and Lashing. Good! I could send an adult that way at least. She then told me that she could see that station and that the adult there had shown them on the map the way to go and pointed them in the direction, but they couldn’t find their way. I told her to go back and wait for an adult to come and rescue them at Knots and Lashing station. We sent in Elizabeth (she is fabulous by the way) and she consoled the team, did some re-training on navigation, walked with them to the next station and made sure they knew where to head for the station after that.  The girls waved goodbye and tucked in.

I got the word that our patrol had checked in around 4:15 am and I headed over to the tent to greet them with cheers, hugs, and tears.  They had done it! They had competed and not given up!  They only got lost a total of 3 times and only had to call out once. We were so PROUD!! The team was bursting with excitement (tinged with exhaustion, it was 4:30 after all). We let them share about their harrowing experience and we were told such wonderful anecdotes that we scarce could take it all in.  Our favorite story had to do with giving up. The team was exhausted and very frustrated and the team leader was ready to call it quits and her little sister rallied and said NO we can’t give up, we have to keep going and her teammate agreed and said “If we give up, we don’t deserve to wear this shirt.” They wanted to be PROUD, they wanted to wear the SHIRT!!  We were bursting ourselves, we were so PROUD of them.

We all went to bed then. Had a wonderful breakfast shared with us from a GA AHG troop.  HOMEMADE BEIGNETS!  Can you believe it? Cooked on a camp stove.  Rivaled New Orleans Cafe Du Monde I tell ya!  We packed up our tents and were outta there. Many of our girls had prior commitments and couldn’t stay for awards that evening.

I determined to head back to see how it had all washed out and, girl, I am glad I did.  Those AHG patrols rocked Night-Ops right on its ear.  The girls won every station competition except one! And my 7’s won lashing and knot tying (the station where they got so lost)!!  The overall winner was a three way tie with 2 AHG patrols and 1 TLUSA patrol taking it. BUT our little unknowing, unpracticed, unprepared 7’s took 2nd place!!!  Ok, I know 4th technically out of 14, but we will take it no matter how it is said.

Our girls rocked it! They did something so HARD and they not only completed but competed with great results. We have goals now! We can’t wait to go back and compete again next year. We know what to expect and how to prepare. And we have a plan to practice throughout the year to be ready for Night-Ops 2016.


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