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Tambu offers new world for Girl Scouts

Lake Oswego troop shines at first competition


by: SUBMITTED - Many skills were required of the Lake Oswego Girl Scouts, including building a teepee. They came away from the Tambu competition with new self-confidence. Shown here are, from the left, Claire Brown, Taylor Bogaty and Megan Quintana.When Crystal Shum wanted to do something different for her troop of Lake Oswego Girl Scouts, she came up with a great idea: Tambu.

It offers a fascinating set of skills that get girls out of the house and into the wilderness and gives them the ability to survive, thrive and, most of all, have fun. Tambu is a competition that encompassses camping and outdoor survival skills, pitting Scouts against each other.

“This was our first year for Tambu,” said Shum, who serves as co-leader of Troop 45018 along with Shelley Lorenzen. “This is a new concept for them.”

Shum and Lorenzen were quite pleased to see their scouts do so well in their first Tambu competition, which was held May 18 and 19 at Camp Mountaindale, taking many first- and second-places in the novice division in skills like camping, knots, fire building, first aid, Dutch oven cooking and even making surprise desserts. It was not a trial by fire but of water, since there was a downpour almost the entire weekend.

“Everyone survived the weekend in good spirits and came out of the experience with a new sense of self-confidence and more committed than ever to girl scouting,” Lorenzen said. “Our girls told us, ‘We can survive anything.’ I saw a new level of competence and maturity.” by: SUBMITTED - Gathering together to build a campfire are members of Lake Oswego Girl Scout Troop 45018. The girls won many top prizes at Camp Mountaindale.

“It was a lot of work, but the girls were smiling at the end,” Shum said. “Doing Tambu empowers them to rely on each other instead of me.”

That’s right. No adults were allowed to help the girls. Their accomplishments were strictly on their own. But the Lake Oswego girls were ready to succeed.

“Crystal Shum did a fantastic job preparing the girls,” Lorenzen said. “She is an amazing woman (and an engineer for the city of Lake Oswego). She is a lifelong Girl Scout.”

Tambu is part of the new direction being taken by the Girl Scouts of America.

“It takes kids outdoors so they get a bigger sense of the world,” Shum said. “It allows for creative ideas.”

Troop 45018 proved to be a dedicated group. Some days they could be spotted practicing their lashing skills at Foothills Park.

“For the amount of time they prepared, they did an excellent job,” Shum said. “For some of our girls it was actually the first time they ever slept overnight on a campout. They definitely had a lot to learn, but they were able to handle almost everything that came their way.”

For Lorenzen, Tambu is a good reason for girls to remain involved in scouts.

“I’ve been a Girl Scout leader since my daughter, Claire, was in the first grade,” Lorenzen said. “When girls reach middle school they have a tendency to go away from Girl Scouts. Crystal and I decided to form a troop together and follow the Boy Scout model. We were hopeful we could reverse the decline in middle school girls going into Girl Scouts.”

Did it happen?

“Yes!” Lorenzen said. “Things have gone really well. Our troop has 19 girls, which is large by Girl Scouts standards. I’ve heard that three things are keeping girls in Girl Scouts. One is Camp Wil-Lo-Lin, which is an amazing camp. Another is travel. The third is Tambu.”

In fact, Tambu has Lorenzen and Shum’s Scouts so excited that they can’t wait to do it again.

“Our girls are reaching a higher level,” Lorenzen said. “They’re getting new energy and new ideas.”

Her daughter, Claire Brown, agrees.

“Tambu has made us better in ways school could never do,” Brown said. “So when we do this again next year I can’t wait to see how much better we’re going to become.”