The Camp Out

In keeping with my prior blog, I’m no longer confining my pathetic attempts at humor to e-publishing; the world is now my pincushion, hardy, har, har, and all that goes with it.

Today, I’m under extreme pressure to be funny because I’ve committed to writing something stupid every week and it’s now Sunday morning, and I have to go to a lacrosse game, mow the lawn, and pave my elderly neighbor’s driveway for a dozen toll house cookies. Yes, chivalry is not dead.

Given these tasks, and my general and constant state of unpreparedness, my only current option to is to poke fun at the event that I attended last night, which involved sharing the woods with a combination of adults and children. I regularly refer to this happening as “the yearly horror show.” More sane people call it the “Annual Boy Scout Camp Out.”

In my deluded mind I’m tough; there’s me and Clint Eastwood, and nobody in between. This being said, I’m ashamed to admit there is nothing in this world I fear more than the Annual Boy Scout Camp Out.

I have many children, so my attendance at the “camp out,” which occurs the third weekend in May each year, has been mandatory for nearly a century, at least it seems that long. The camp out marks the end of scouting for the year. Honest men call it “hell on earth.” The mosquitos call it the beginning of “people season.” There are many things I rather do than attend The Annual Boy Scout Camp Out, which to me is the equivalent of receiving a colonoscopy, without sedation, from a gastroenterologist with Parkinson’s disease.

As always, the event began innocent enough. Older scouts, call boy scouts, spent hours teaching younger scouts, called bears, wolves, cubs, and webelos (whatever that is) how to perform tasks that have no real-world application – in preparation for adulthood. Activities included: learning how to tie knot with your toes, how to turn a bundle of sticks into a nuclear weapon, and how to stay safe while doing incredibly stupid things like climbing up a cliff or spelunking, which I learned involved descending into a cave using only a rope and a LED flash light.

My son, the little one they call, “Sausage,” wanted to do everything. He was especially interested in learning how to construct a hang glider using a Sear’s catalog and a single tube of Elmer’s glue, but I pushed him into the spelunking class, knowing we would, never, ever, go exploring some God forsaken cave.

Surprisingly, the time allotted for the older kids to teach younger kids how to do shit passed without incident. In fact, there was not a single impaling, or broken leg, which was extremely rare.

We were off to a good start.

Next up was the Annual Poisoning of the Husbands, otherwise known as the campfire buffet: burgers, hot dogs, and pasta salad coated with DEET, pollen, and Cub Scout bacteria, freshly sneezed. I called this event the “Poisoning of the Husbands” because over the years I’ve noticed all the wives in attendance laugh continually instead of eating, which is unusual considering each of them weighs more than a VW Beetle.

When my paranoia about food-borne illnesses finally subsided, my favorite part of the camp out occurred. The kids, moms, and the “guys” who wore tan shorts and medals, retreated to an open-air amphitheater to perform skits, the purpose of which was to entertain the young and the feeble minded. It was during this time the few lucky men among us, including yours truly, fulfilled our obligation to be “campfire monitors.” This meant it was our job to drink beer and make sure the den’s campfire did not turn into a town fire.

The bullshit session that followed was the stuff of legend: men in the woods without electronics, multiple coolers, bags of every type of chip available within the continental United States.

The guy beside me drank fast, so I soon learned he sold veterinary surgical equipment and that his business was terrible because none of the local hotels would let him do product demonstrations using dog cadavers.

“That sucks,” I said.

“No shit,” he replied.

“Hey man, if you ever need to do dissect a dog and you’re in my neighborhood, you can use my house,” I said.

“You sure?” he asked.

“Sure, I’m sure,” I responded. “Another Bud, please.”

Eventually our children returned, as they always do. It was Smores time. Several flaming marshmallows nearly hit me before the present cluster of boyhood decided to reenact Lord of the Flies by turning their Marshmallow sticks into weapons, as they always do.

“We must attack the second graders,” the Sausage informed me.

“Where are they?” I asked.

Sausage pointed to a nearby hill.

“Way over there.”

“Good,” I said after winking to my new Bud-buddy. “Go get those f’n second graders! Take no prisoners! Remember the Alamo! Tippecanoe and Tyler too!”

About an hour later our soldiers returned. There was some blood, but no reports of fatalities. The evening was going exceptionally well, especially considering past events, which included one of my son’s being neutered by a Karate exhibition gone bad.

Ahh, but the night’s fun was not over for the sun had gone down five hours earlier and the temperature was approaching thirty-five degrees.

Given today’s advanced camping technologies, for well-prepared folks low temperature was a non-issue, but for an ADD Dad, who lacks the skills to plan a birthday party, thirty degrees presented a serious issue, for I only brought two sleeping bags and the Sausage needed both.

“One is my mattress,” the Sausage informed me. “The other is my sleeping bag.”

Despite being a bad traditional Dad, I’ll do anything for my kids. Thus, without argument, I decided to sleep in my collapsible chair, wearing Bermuda shorts, a T-shirt, and my vintage Red Sox jacket.

Needless to say, I froze my ass off.

When I finally woke up for good, the sun had just risen and nature was definitely calling, and it was an urgent matter, the Buds and the Annual Poisoning, no doubt.

I was in generalized pain, which meant every square inch of my body hurt more than Johnny Cash’s head after a night out with Merle Haggard. Being so, I struggled to find the “Men’s Room,” which I knew, would be the most disgusting place on earth.

I was not disappointed for inside the wooden shack marked men and scented by urine from the Eisenhower era, there was a fairly new “Environmentally Friendly” toilet. My vision was cloudy so I was not sure the toilet contained a liquid. I thought I saw some corn floating, but I wasn’t sure. “Maybe it’s my macular degeneration,” I theorized.

Knowing I was about to jettison an ungodly load, I was concerned about splashing, so I conducted a test. I lowered sheets of toilet paper, one by one, into the toilet, testing for water. There was none. I was safe to go.

The explosion that followed would have been embarrassing if witnessed, but for me it was the first step in my return to life.

“This Boy Scout Camp Out was tolerable,” I told myself. “No major incidents…I can’t wait to get home.”

After a customary moment of relaxation, I rose. Then I suddenly felt something. It was my wallet. It had fallen out of my Red Sox jacket and into the toilet.

It was gone.

A normal man would of panicked, but not me. Instead, I was instantly overcome by a calm resolve, for my wallet contained five C-notes, and I knew there was no way on earth this money was not going to be retrieved.

After a few minutes of thinking I returned to my tent.

“Sausage, wake up!” I said. “Good news!”

Knowing me, Sausage replied, “Really?”

“Yes,” I assured him. “Get some rope! We’re going spelunking!”