Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cub Scout Camp with a view

While we all like to camp, it usually takes the combined force of the cub scout organization to get our family out the door. We have camped with the cub scouts in the same location, just north of Munich, a few times and interest was waning. Particularly, as we have had a very cool and wet spring and now summer. Then the cub scouts moved to a new location. The weather warmed for a few critical days and a fantastic weekend was pulled out of a rather dismal series of months. We can thank the cub scouts for the organization and the Alps for the inspiration.
We recently camped south of Munich in the Bavarian Alps of southern Germany. This is our area of choice for day hikes, rimed by snow topped mountains, including Germany’s highest, the Zugspitze. The resort town there is Garmisch- Partenkirchen. Originally, the two towns were separate with Garmisch, with roots deep in a Teutonic tribal past and with Partenkirchen being a Roman trading post between Salzburg and Augsburg. Just prior to the 1936 Winter Olympics held there, the two separate marketplaces were combined to increase and share the revenues. The Olympic ski jump from 1936 still stands high above the city and serves as our family’s primary landmark when down there.
Right after World War II there was a large US military presence in Garmisch- Partenkirchen. The barracks remain as do many signs in English, advertising things like “pizza by the meter!” There is a Burger King down there but sadly, no Starbucks. While the military is downsizing all over Europe (and just  closed their base in Hedielberg within the last few weeks), two large military institutions remain in town; the Marshall Center for Security Studies and the Armed Forces Recreational Center for US military and NATO service people and their families.
Due to this convergence of foreign families, there is a scout lodge down there on private land that we were able to rent for the weekend. With a lodge kitchen and bathrooms, this was pretty easy camping. There was plenty of space for campers to spread out. So much so, that all of our kids choose to camp in other tents, not ours. The first time ever I could stand up in our tent and locate my bag without tripping over a twin. Our tent opened to a stunning view of the Zugspitze and it suddenly felt like we could do this European living thing. It is something inefficient and slow paced and frustrating but then again, there are the Alps.
In our part of southern Germany, there is a tick problem with bites leading to a brain swelling disease. As it happens, the kids just finished their series of three shots immunizing them against this. Good thing too as we pulled numerous ticks of each child. Adam was completely covered, while the girls had a few as well. While Phil scrapped ticks off, we reminisced about the weekend, undeterred. A little pain for the big gain in altitude and attitude.