Beans, Boy Scouts and Tents

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All of our children participated in Scouting programs at some time in their lives. In fact, we have one son who is an Eagle Scout and another who is a Life Scout.  Our girls went through the Junior level of Girl Scouts – which means we have bought and eaten more than our fair share of Girl Scout Cookies (a story for another time).  There are distinct differences between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts – other than the obvious!  The organizations are both run by adult volunteers and both have the mothers running things when the children are younger – Girl Scout Troop Moms and Den Mothers for Cub Scouts.  In Boy Scouts that all changes when the boys graduate from being mere Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts – this is when the men in the family want to start participating – because this is when the FUN begins!

Apparently, it’s fine to have the womenfolk taking care of the young-uns when they are being taught arts, crafts and manners – but when it is time to do ‘manly’ things like camping, fishing, hiking, cooking over a campfire and generally screwing around in the woods – only the menfolk can handle that part of the boys’ education!  In reality, women are smart enough to know that we do NOT want to spend our time in the woods doing the cooking, fish cleaning and tending camp only to be rewarded by spending time with about 50 smelly men and boys!  While they are out educating the boys – we are at home relaxing with a good book, soaking in a tub, having a pedicure/manicure, watching whatever television program we desire (without surfing during the commercials) and enjoying the quiet in our heated and comfortable home – I’m pretty sure I know who gets the better deal on this one!

When it came time for Bob, our son to go on his first camping trip with the ‘guys’, he was excited to be spending time with his friends, until we told him that no video games or televisions were allowed and he was going to have to sleep in a tent with 10 other boys, cook his own meals and go hiking all day.  All of the sudden, Bob wasn’t so sure that all of that camaraderie was really necessary in order to become a good Scout.  However, the one thing that Bob figured was worth the whole deal was that his Dad (Pat) would be coming along and they could spend time together – without having to share him with his brother and sisters – that part was pretty cool and definitely worth the trip.  Pat had the same reservations as Bob – he was not very keen on sleeping in a tent with 10 strange adult men, fixing his own meals and sleeping on the cold ground – but he wanted Bob to have a good time – so he went along with the troop.  The camping trip was only an overnight stay – so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Pat was one of the designated drivers, so he was lucky enough to have his own car – in case he needed to escape the madness.  He volunteered for that very reason – he would be the Rescuer for any boys (particularly his own son) who were just too homesick or scared to stay that night.  Unfortunately for Pat – none of the boys (including his son) wanted to go home – so Pat was stuck there for the night.

The boys (and this includes all of the adults, because we know that when adult men revert to the lowest age of a group of males) had a great time that day – hiking, fishing and exploring.  They learned how to pitch a tent and make a fire – and then they learned how to make their own dinner.   Since this was a group of males making dinner – and they had actually decided on the menu during a troop meeting – the meal was simple, easy and definitely what the boys imagined that true camping food should be like.  So, the boys (again, including the adults) learned how to make a cauldron of beans and franks over the campfire.  Nothing else, just beans and franks – except for some potato chips – and possibly chocolate chip cookies for dessert – but mostly beans and franks.  According to my husband, the group consumed enough beans to power a pocket ship to the moon or perhaps beyond.

Soon it became time for everyone to go to their tents – the adults were in one tent and the boys in another.  Bob was a little nervous about sleeping with all of those boys in the tent – but not for the same reason Pat was a little nervous about sleeping with all of the adults in a tent.  Bob was just nervous about new friends – Pat knew how many beans all of these men had eaten at dinner!  Pat told Bob that he would leave the car unlocked so if he wanted to sleep in the car, he would be able to do so.

Pat and Bob trundled off to their respective tents – both with a sense of impending doom.  Both of them positioned their sleeping bags nearest the tent flap for an easy escape – and were pleasantly surprised when no one else wanted that spot!  Both of them had a fleeting thought that things were going to be just fine – no one else was concerned – so they were probably just over-reacting.

Pat laid in his sleeping bag, listening to everyone settling in for the night.  Soon the snoring began and Pat began to relax a little bit.  However, it wasn’t long before the snoring was punctuated by the ‘toots’ of the beans and franks which had been consumed in large quantities by the inhabitants of the tent.  Pat decided that it was time to escape to the comfort of his car for the remainder of the night.  As he was reclining in the passenger seat, starting to drift off as he watched out the window, he noticed what appeared to be a floating pair of white briefs and a t-shirt heading in his direction.  As the whitie-tighties came closer, he realized that they were on his son, Bob – who had watched his father leave his tent and was afraid that Dad was going to leave him there all alone to spend the night with his own group of smelly new friends!

Bob, dragging his sleeping bag behind him, climbed into the backseat and fell sound asleep before the door had even closed.  Pat was soon as comatose as his son and the next thing he knew they were being awakened by the troop leaders knocking on the windows, asking if everything was okay and telling them it was time for breakfast (which thankfully, was NOT beans and franks!).   Pat explained that his back had hurt so he wanted to sleep in the car – and Bob had been out sleep-walking – so Pat had put in the car with him rather than wake everyone up – nothing like teaching a Boy Scout to lie on his first camping trip!

Bob went on to spend many nights on camping trips with the Boy Scouts – some of which included his brother Tim – but Pat never went along again.  He figured he had done his job educating his sons – by making sure they always knew to sleep near the tent flap when beans and franks had been served for dinner – and to always bring your own car if you really wanted to get any sleep!

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2 responses »

  1. What a stroll down memory lane this post brought me. I remember clearly our family’s yearly trek to the annual festivities in the woods that multiple Boy Scout troops held in celebration of their boy-bonding. My family sitting amid the pines, in the humid, hot Texas air, cross-legged around fires, slapping at mosquitos, all in an effort to support my brother’s enthusiastic participation in BSA, something I could never understand nor wait to get home from. Whatever they did out there, whatever crafts they demonstrated, whatever pride shone in the eyes of young boys and Scout leaders alike, all I could yearn for was home, air conditioning, and civilization. I was a girly-girl and hated, with a passion, having to go, but was powerless against my mother’s insistence that we all go to support my brother. Now I love the outdoors, but camping in a tent is something I’ve never done and still have no plans to do. Why bother, when there are cabins?!

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