Well, Cub Scout camping season officially kicks off this weekend, with an event known as Webelos Outdoor Weekend. It’s the first time that Cub Scouts in the 3rd grade or older are allowed to go camping without a parent tagging along, so there’s a sense of adventure for the leaders as well as the boys. I’ve been at this for five years now, and was fondly reminiscing about the Cub Scout campouts we’ve had.
On my first Cub Scout camping trip, we got way out in the country, away from the city lights, to watch a meteor shower. We had a great campsite, on one of the boy’s grandpa’s farm, and the weather was great. Brian, one of the other dads, was real outdoorsy – he made Survivorman look like Felix Unger from “The Odd Couple.” Anyway, the meteor shower was supposed to peak around 4:00am, so we bedded down early, and got up around 3:30am. I counted two meteors before I fell back to sleep, spilled my hot chocolate in my lap, and went back to the tent to change my pants. I crawled back in my sleeping bag, and woke up to the smell of frying bacon. Brian got a job out of state and moved away soon after that. I seriously miss him.
Another time, we had a “Spy Mission” theme for our campout. We divided up into teams and tracked down clues, broke codes, did covert ops in the woods, and made marshmallow guns. I bet the squirrels and raccoons at Stonelick Lake still anxiously await our return.
We’ve camped under the stars in left field at Great American Ballpark, following a Cincinnati Reds’ game. Turns out, the grounds crew won’t let you stake down a bunch of tents in the outfield of a Major League Ballpark. We’ve slept in the shark tunnel of the Newport Aquarium. When the lights go off, you can only see shadows going through the water, but it sure seemed like the rules were “every fish for himself.” We spent the night at King’s Island last year – the park kept certain rides open late just for the Scouts. My oldest son and his best friend goaded me into riding The Vortex until I almost threw up.
They’re calling for some not-exactly-dry weather this weekend, and there’s been some disappointment expressed about that. Me; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Last year, the Pack’s Spring Campout got cancelled when the river flooded the campground. Yes; a month before the driest summer that I can recall descended upon us. The spring before that, we made it to the campsite, but had to pack up & leave just before midnight, because tornado warnings were being issued all over the area – almost everywhere, except where we were. When we got home around 1:30am, my lawn wasn’t even wet.
To be honest, I had to page through the Pack’s scrapbook to recall some of these events. Nice weather is great for camping; no doubt. When nothing out of the ordinary happens and everything goes as planned, it makes for a nice, fun outing. But I asked my oldest boy and his friends what their most memorable campout was, and they said: “The Webelos Outdoor Weekend where someone’s tent blew through our campsite while we were trying to light a fire to cook our dinner in the rainstorm.” Those are the ones you get the best stories from – the ones that, God willing, he and I will tell my grandsons about someday. While we’re hunkered down in a tent, riding out a monsoon, no doubt. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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