Sunday, March 11, 2012

"This is even better than I thought it would be, Mom"

I hadn't really thought about what going camping with the Cub Scouts might entail.  Thankfully, I'd been warned that the Scout Master was not the most organized person in the world, and knew I'd need to go with the flow. So when we didn't arrive at the camp until 8:45pm and then had to hike through the (very dark) woods over a mile, shlepping all our gear in the below-freezing weather, I knew that it made more sense to look at Saturn and Venus shining in the sky than to wonder when we'd get where we needed to be.

After the boys claimed bunks (you can interpret that as seventeen over-tired and excited kids with sudden, intense and passionate preferences on which bunk to sleep on), we were supposed to feed them. Me, I would've sent someone ahead to build a campfire, made the boys hot chocolate, and gone to bed. But I've been a parent long enough to know that if someone else went to the trouble of doing all the planning work, my job is to be appreciative that I didn't have to do it. So we made soup and cut up bagels, and fed the kids. They got to bed at midnight.

One thing about camping with seventeen boys is that you get a clear picture of the range of boys' attention spans. Another thing you learn is how much water it takes to cook and clean up dishes for 25 people. Fortunately the Weebelos were in charge of fetching water from the pump (100 yards away). We constantly had water on the burner, because it took so long to boil.

The parents were an unexpected bunch. The Scout Master is a middle-age Peruvian woman. The one dad with scouting experience was Puerto Rican; there was a dad from Jamaica, a young father who wore a Pelle Pelle jacket and brought various pieces of exercise equipment, and an African-American man who spent hours on his iPhone. The two moms were from the Dominican Republic (I ended up speaking more Spanish than I have in years). We also had two very good Boy Scouts helping out.

There was the obligatory terrified 7yo who wanted to go home, and the mandatory potty accident (though not in a sleeping bag). There were two minor cuts, numerous lost hats, and various accidents with sticks; there was a trip to the archery center, a 5-mile hike to a castle, and a campfire with S'Mores. Kids collected firewood, got too close to the flames, and tried to shake out burning marshmallows near the hair of others. Adults said the usual things: "Put that down!" "Someone's going to get hurt!" "How many times have you been told..."

I worked harder than I've had to work in a decade, constantly on my feet cooking or washing dishes or mediating arguments with little boys. The cabins weren't too cold, but the one winterized bathroom was half a mile away. We should have brought gloves.

Little Guy definitely wants to go back. It was fun.


  1. Yes, camping is awesome. Especially when it involves things like fire.

  2. This post recalls a comment I once heard you make, quoting Andrew, to the effect that it had taken mankind so many years to get out of the woods, and he wasn't about to go back. I guess it's safe to say that Little Guy is not following in his father's footsteps in this regard?

    Laura, having the usual sign in problems

  3. Laura,
    I did think of how miserable Andrew would be there, several times. He hyperventilates when there's not enough cement. Little Guy does not seem to have inherited that problem.

    One of the funnier moments of the trip was when I took a group of kids down to the bathroom, and one of them spied a small (maybe 12") fire hydrant nearby. "What's that?" he asked. I said, "It's a baby fire hydrant. It hasn't grown up yet." The kids looked at it, then looked at me, then looked at it again before saying, "Naaaah!" I guess if you grow up in the city it's not always clear what's natural and what's not!

  4. I did the cub scout winter campout last year in mid Feb and it was 21 below at night and there was about 2 ft of snow on the ground at camp. We slept in our snow pants and were still cold! Even though my son claims he didn't enjoy it, there were several of these magical moments (walking through the crispy snow in the moonlight kind of stuff) that were real memory makers. Glad you made it through!