As a continuation of last week’s theme, let’s pack our bags and get ready for the time honored tradition of summer camp. I remember my days as a Boy Scout and the annual trip to my week long home away from home…Scout Camp. In those days, the bathroom was primitive, and the only shower was located in a box in the middle of camp where everybody could see your head and feet as you took a cold shower. Cold was the only option. Swimming was done in the same lake where we went fishing and boating later in the day.
One time we decided to play a trick on an unsuspecting fellow camper. (Technically, I was only a spectator in this scheme.) A pack of Now and Laters was chewed and placed strategically on the shower head, and we waited to see who would take the next shower. The poor victim turned out to be none other than our Scout Master! He pulled the cord to release the water and nothing happened. He pulled harder and got the same result. He pulled it a third time and examined the shower head just as the Now and Laters popped off and tagged him in the forehead. We were sure that we were all toast, but he never said a word about the incident.
I am currently a Scout leader, and I am sure that my time will come. As a leader, summer camp has always been a fun week. I’ve had the privilege of helping Scouts deal with homesickness, thunderstorms, and being on time for classes. I have seen them mature into Scouts that were able to help the younger ones deal with the same issues that once plagued them. Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden Powell, once said that “Scouting is a game with a purpose.” Clearly this is one of those purposes.
When we signed up for summer camp this year, part of the troop wanted to go to a camp in North Georgia. Among the traditional merit badge classes, swimming, and campfires, this camp also offered a few high adventure alternatives. My son didn’t look at the material long before he decided we were going on the camp’s Epic Adventure this summer.
The crew from Whitewater Express picked us up from our summer camp on the first day; and to be honest with you, we did not know what to expect. The van sped quickly through the mountains in the darkness, and I woke up in North Carolina. Our accommodations were in what appeared to be a refurbished roadside motel designed to now look like a log structure. Each room had a bathroom, bunk beds, and air conditioning. Summer Camp was never like this when I was a boy.
The Epic Adventure lived up to its name. The first day we traveled to Tennessee to go mountain biking, horseback riding, and high ropes course climbing. During the next two days we backpacked a total of about fifteen miles through rain and yellow jackets. The final two days had us on the Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers in rafts and duckies (small two man inflatables.) Our raft flipped on the Ocoee, and I cut my knee on a rock in a rapid named “Slice and Dice.”
Summer Camp has come a long way since I was a boy. There are camps that focus on sports and other activities. Our church offers a camp. Local camps are also offered at places like the Parks at Chehaw. There are plenty of opportunities to fill the idle days of summer with fun and learning.
In the end, our Epic Adventure was a great time of bonding. I left camp with sore muscles, tired feet, cuts and bruises. My son bought a shirt that read, “Scars Are Tattoos With Better Stories” at the Nantahala base. The scar on my knee will remind me of our summer camp experience in years to come. Epic!
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.