I made a few crucial discoveries while at Camp Bradley this past week. Here they are, in no particular order:
- No known bug spray repels no-see-ums-- at least not the no-see-ums in Cape Horn, Idaho. I came back with a miniature replica of the constellation Ursa Major on my forearms and a dot-to-dot pattern on my legs that probably ends up spelling out the secret plans for insects to take over the world. In that particular sense (the being-eaten-alive sense), the week was pretty miserable. But we did get some relief from the bugs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday when it rained.
- Even a group of distracted, squabbling, firebuggy boys can amount to something. Troop 59 won the Cape Horn award for top troop in the camp. When the staff announced that award, the first words out of Scoutmaster Conder's mouth were either "How did that happen?" or "That must've been an accident!" (or some combination the two, possibly). It was a bit surreal because we hadn't been expecting it. It turns out, however, that just showing up counts a lot. In fact, because we showed up to flag ceremonies morning and night in our uniforms, had a troop yell each time, did our duty in the kitchen one day, and learned a bunch of knots (all seven main knots in 2 minutes or less), our score ended up edging out the other troops. We didn't start out to win, but these small and simple things added up to something. (There's a Sunday School lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure.)
- Jon Conder and I have no common sense. We stayed up way too late every night of camp-- talking. In fact, I am very sleepy right now and will be toddling off to bed in a mome..n..t...
- Even distracted, frog-obsessed boys can earn merit badges.
- Even 2nd-year, macho scouts are freaked out by unexplained noises in the dark.
- Camp cots are better than sleeping on the ground, but my Posturepedic loves me and I love it.
- I need to invent or learn new word games. All the boys now know "Black Magic," "Trokey Dots," "Snaps," "My Ship Sails," and "Crossed Sticks."
- Twelve-year-olds are both more mature and less mature than you might imagine.
- Fruit Loops without milk aren't bad, but they aren't that good either.
- Camp showers, as primitive as they are, feel pretty good after 3 days of smoke, ash, mosquito repellent, and sulfur hot springs.
It was a great week-- bugs, stink, and rain notwithstanding. The boys accomplished a lot. They had some spiritual experiences with Bishop White and President Hansen. They learned to survive without Mom and without Nintendo for a few days. I think I just might go back next year (if I can figure out how to keep the no-see-ums away).