I took my son to the Boy Scouts' "Camporee" last weekend.
It was so much fun! And so hard, too... I am *not* a natural camper. This was a real effort for me. I love my warm soft bed, flush toilet, and daily shower. Camping involves none of these things and so I don't do it often. I love the outdoors, but usually only if I know I can sleep in my own bed at night.
We left Friday after my son got out of school. Arrived in Pine, AZ, at Camp Geronimo, around 6 p.m. Selected our campsite and hauled our stuff up from the car. Set up the tent in the dark (not fun! Thank goodness the troop leader and his wife helped out!). Drove the car back down to the parking lot and hiked the mile back up to the campsite. Had some fried chicken we'd brought along for dinner. Went to the scout ceremony/ meeting and sat in the increasing chilly-ness. Slept on the rather uncomfortable camping pads and woke up cold at 4 a.m., added extra blankets and woke up at 5:30 a.m. with the sun...
And then the actual fun started. Breakfast in the cold-but-warming beautiful morning with birds singing, scout flag ceremony, dressed in the "Class A" uniforms for the "inspection," and then more scout ceremonies... all done by probably 8 a.m. Then some scout activities/challenges for the kids -- involving problem-solving, teamwork, and fun. The theme was "Zombies," so several of the events required completing them within a time limit before the "Zombies" were released. There was a fellow applying Zombie make-up to anyone who wanted it... although most of us adults looked like zombies even without the makeup, after a night spent setting up a campsite and sleeping, very little, in the cold!
Then we had lunch, and then there was hiking, crawfish-catching, and lots of unstructured, kid-led games like Zombie tag, "infected," capture-the-flag, pinecone wars, something resembling lord of the flies and pinecone-throwing, and random explorations of the gorgeous, huge wooded camping area. Meanwhile, the adults supervised some and hung out a lot, getting to know each other and enjoying the birds and the blue sky with pretty little clouds and the trees and the lack of biting insects and the sound of the wind in the trees. It was awesome.
Later that evening, after dinner, there was another flag ceremony at sunset, and then a camp-wide meeting at which my scout's Webelos den and my scout's host-boy-scout troop tied for first place for the campsite cleanliness and uniform inspection prize -- both groups scored a perfect 100%! Each group won large portable grill, to be used for future campouts! Very exciting!
I met a fellow who is the grandfather of one of the Webelos. I had met the Webelo's mom before, and she is really nice, too. He lives down the street and around the corner from us, and works in a building two blocks from where I work. Such a small world we live in... He loaned me a jacket, because I forgot to bring my warm toasty one. He is a soft-spoken, kind-hearted, handsome, smart, sweet man about 15 years older than me. I have to admit to having a small crush on him. If I weren't married, I'd have been flirting with him... As it was, we enjoyed looking at all the stars that can't be seen from the Valley of the Sun because of the light pollution and talking about our jobs and kids/grandkids.
Then we had a great big campfire and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores (yes, the boy scouts love them as much as the girl scouts who invented them), cleaned up a bit, put out the fire, and then slept in our tents in the cold again on the hard ground softened only somewhat by thin camping sleep-pads and bags, woke up at 5:00 a.m. with the sun listening to the birds sing, had another flag ceremony, broke down the camp, and headed back to civilization with a new appreciation for our warm comfortable homes, soft beds, heated bathrooms, and showers.
Life is good.