November 4, 2023

From Gerald R. Lucas

Spooky-Ree Weekend (Part 2)
« Read part 1

Fishing turned out to be a bust. We tried several different places on the lake, but Henry didn’t have any luck. He shared his rod with his friend Rowan a bit, but all they managed to catch were some branches and snags on the lake bottom. That doesn’t mean they didn’t try. Between attempts, they went to the bounce house to jump around like wild boys.

As we walked to the bounce houses, probably in mile four of the over-six we walked that day, I looked at Henry’s wrist for his armband that Spencer told us to “hold on to.” It was conspicuously absent. “Henry, where is your armband?”

“I gave it to you,” he answered.

“No, you didn’t.”

“I took it off at lunch.”

“Where did you put it?”

“I guess I left it were we were eating,” he said completely unconcerned.

Of course he did. Granted, the armbands were a bit big for boys, but I noticed that Rowan had his on. I asked Rowan’s father if he wouldn’t mind taking Henry with them to the bounce houses while I went back to the picnic area to search—once again—for a damn black band. I searched the area as best I could with no luck. It was near the camp office, so thought I might ask if anyone had turned one in. As I went into the office, Spencer was there with several of the scouts. He didn’t see me, but I gave up my search and figured that I didn’t really need to eat dinner. Or, since they didn’t really seem to be checking, maybe we could get buy for one more meal. Man, way to cock-up this whole armband thing. What a farce.

Henry and Rowan fishing.

Henry and Rowan spent more time fishing with no luck. It didn’t help that this one kid caught fishing near them caught a fish. Everyone around him exploded with delight, and I could see Henry even more determined to catch a fish. The kid probably caught the only fish in this damn lake, I thought. But, as the afternoon approached 16:00, I could see it wasn’t going to happen, and I wanted to rest a few minutes before dinner. As we walked back to camp, Henry suddenly remembered there were other activities for the scouts, and said, “Dad, I want to go to knot-tying.”

“Dude, everything ended at four o’clock.”

“What?!” He did his disappointed “Awwwhhhhh!” and stomped the ground.

“Yeah, Henry, I told you that, but you insisted on fishing all afternoon.”

He was mad and disappointed, and he sulked all the way back to camp. Most of the other scouts were there when we returned, and they were playing around. Their fishing bad luck forgotten, Henry and Rowan joined them while I finally got to sit down with my novel. I sat near the tent and occasionally glanced up to see the activity. Once, I noticed another father coming toward me. I greeted him as he got close, and noticed that he held a black wristband toward me.

“I heard you needed one of these,” he said.

“I certainly do. Thank you,” I said.

“No problem,” he returned—a knowing smile on his face as he headed back toward camp.

I didn’t say any more, but I did wonder what he knew. Was this a replacement for the first or second band we lost? Who knows. I just put this one on my wrist with the other and waited to leave for dinner.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs. Henry and I both ate like ravenous dogs, and he even remarked as we cleaned up: “That was good spaghetti.” It wasn’t really, but were were both famished, I guess, after all the activity. As we headed back to camp, I could see scouts were tired. I figured that was the point: get these kids worn out so we can all sleep better. They got a second-wind back at camp where a fire was soon raging bright and spores ingredients were being prepared. They all made dessert and sat around the camp fire listening to Spencer tell stories. By nine, most of the scouts had turned in, and Henry was no exception. As it was a bit warmer that evening, we both slept better.

Henry and Mr. Rumbles

The next morning, I packed up camp while Henry played. I didn’t mind doing it myself, but as I was rolling up the tent, I noticed that many of the others were not really packing up, but milling around. I noticed Spencer approaching; as he got close he asked, “Is that one of the groups tents.”

“Yes,” I said, “it’s been great. Thanks.”

“Before you return it, be sure to unpack it and let it air out, OK?”

“Oh, sure.” I said, now realizing that the experienced families left their tents up so that the dew would dry. Another rookie mistake. I guess that’s how you learn.

The group had brought breakfast of hot chocolate and pop tarts. I just wanted coffee, but no such luck. Henry had his breakfast and we headed out, thanking everyone for the weekend.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and my mind remembers the trip more fondly, but I don’t think I’m the camping type. I could see going with friends might be fun, but it’s so much work to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable most of the time. And there’s so much stuff required. I have become adverse to buying junk in the last ten years, so the idea of buying who-knows-how-much camping equipment just rubs me the wrong way. Even for this weekend, Autumn bought us air mattresses, flashlights, sleeping bags, and probably other stuff. I just don’t want to do it. I think Henry agrees, but I can see him wanting to do this next year. We’ll see.