Last weekend was another Cub Scout Campout for Liam. We made a deal that if he could behave for the month between campouts, he could go, and his behavior was absolutely exemplary. The week before the campout he didn't have a single instance of impropriety. No talking out of turn, homework done every day, no arguing with the teacher – nothing. For those of you that know Liam – or ANY precocious 7-year-old boy – you know that that's a helluva feat! I'm immensely proud of his behavior, both at school and at home lately, and was more than happy to pack up the gas-guzzler to head up to D-BAR-A Scout Ranch again with him.
We drove up about 7ish in the evening on Friday after packing some food, tent, clothes, etc., and arrived to the pitch-black campsite about 8pm. Given the rainy, cold weather that evening, I was a bit surprised to see so many hardy souls willing to brave the elements for the rather uneventful first evening. There were no real events planned, just setting up tents and hanging by the campfire, but it was nonetheless well-attended and a lot of fun.
After setting up the tent Sonya bought off a neighbor (with a little help from one of the other dads – again, it was pitch black and what the hell do I know from tents?!), we all gathered around the campfire and chatted while the kids played in the darkness. I strummed a few tunes on the ol' ukulele, and eventually, the kids started telling ghost stories. Most were tales along a similar vein, involving campers one-by-one investigating a suspicious noise and being taken out in gruesome fashion by what turned out to be a vampire, monster, or other such ghoul. The stories got more and more absurd as the body count rose and the monsters gained more ridiculous powers and hideous features, to the point where each new detail drew giggles of delight from their over-the-top nature.
I decided to regale them with the tale of the Jersey Devil that so scarred me back when I first went to a campout (see my previous blog, "The Great Outdoors…"). I stared out matter-of-factly enough, improvising a bit, then took the tone real low so they were hanging on my every word. When I got to the tension-riddled climax of the story, I shouted out "BOO!" and made them all jump about 2 feet off their seats. Mission accomplished. They laughed, I smiled. No therapy bills will ensue from the story, I'm sure.
From there, I told the old campfire story my dad used to drive me nuts with:
"It was a dark and story night. Three men were sitting by a campfire. One of the men said, 'George, tell us a story,' so George began… 'It was a dark and stormy night…'" Repeat ad nauseum. Took about 4 repetitions before the groans began.
Round about 10:30, the kids started heading to bed. Sleeping was a bit trickier. GETTING to sleep wasn't so hard, but it was a bit chillier than I had anticipated, being out in the boonies. I had planned on my sleeping bag being my mattress and using blankets for warmth, as I didn't want to bother with an air mattress. It got so cold, however, I had to climb inside it and lose half my cushion. My hips were rather sore the next morning.
The next morning before breakfast the kids explored now illuminated grounds while the dads made quick friends with the only guy who brought a coffee pot. Once the clouds parted a bit, the spectacular glory of Fall in Michigan was revealed and the forest came alive with color. I went nuts snapping pics that can be seen on my Flickr page, here: Paul's Flickr Page
From there, the rest of the day is best relayed by means of the video compilation I made and YouTubed (2 parts, as it was a bit over the 10 minute YouTube limit). Comprised of pictures and video of the weekend to the point where I left for work and Sonya took over my duties, it's a work in progress, but gives a good impression of the day. I'll flesh it out a bit more once I get some pics from the other parents.
I had a ton of fun, and once again, I can't wait to go camping with my boy.
God, who'd have thought I'D enjoy something as cliché and macho as camping with my son? What's next? Tossing the ol' pigskin around the yard?
I WON'T HAVE IT! MY SON WILL BE A BAND GEEK, NOT A JOCK, DAMNIT!