It’s been a week since Collier and I returned from summer camp. In many ways, this was just like any other camp. There were plenty of merit badge offerings, plenty of carb-heavy meals, plenty of sweating, and plenty of yours truly trying to avoid poison ivy. In a Covid-19 world, though, there were also plenty of changes.
For starters, there were hand-washing stations EVERYWHERE. The Boy Scouts of America set up these handwashing stations all around the camp – garage-style sinks with soap dispensers on two-by-fours near most buildings, and a few in fields. This is a far cry from the usual summer camp hygiene. Last year, though Collier and I showered every night, there were a few boys from other troops that I am sure only showered on family night.
Speaking of family night, that was cut this year, so these boys didn’t see their mommas from Sunday morning all the way to the following Saturday afternoon. By mid-week, Collier was getting homesick for Amye, so we had to drive about a mile from camp every night to get a cell signal so he could call home. Morning and evening assemblies were also cut this year, so we only wore our Class A uniforms for opening and closing ceremonies, along with a ceremony Thursday night for the Order of the Arrow. Therefore, the uniforms were not nearly as ripe as they were last year by the time we got home.
Dining in the mess hall also fell victim to Covid-19 this year. Meals were delivered to each troop’s site, and they dined together as a troop. While there is something about seeing all the boys cleaning up the tables and putting things back in their place in the dining hall, I appreciated the slower pace this year, and it was fun to sit around the campsite and eat all of our meals.
Masks also had to be worn any time we went into a building, and in merit badge sessions that had 10 people or more. That didn’t stop Collier from surprising me by volunteering to give CPR to a dummy. He loves the episode of The Office where Dwight cuts the face off the dummy – thankfully, he didn’t do that, though he did count aloud to “Staying Alive” as he pumped the dummy’s chest. The teachers of the Emergency Preparedness badge were great with Collier, talking him through the process.
Collier also surprised me a few other times this year. On one occasion as we were walking toward the waterfront, he randomly struck up a conversation with some boys from another troop on the way, asking them if they were heading down to swim. Conversation skills are things we work on quite a bit around the house. He also used his camp duties to get out of work (I can see myself doing something similar). Collier was our troop Fire Guard, and when it came time to work on our entrance gate, Mr. Greg just happened to be building a fire to make his legendary Dutch Oven Apple Cobbler (which took first place in a Scoutmaster dessert contest later that night, by the way). Collier said he couldn’t work on the gate, because he had to watch the fire 😊.
It was a great week that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have a somewhat love-hate relationship with summer camp, as it is a week of little sleep because of the heat and uncomfortable cots, a ton of walking, as well as bug fighting, but in many ways it is one of my favorite weeks out of the whole year. It’s a solid week of just the guys, and the time I spend with Collier is absolutely priceless. There’s no YouTube, Netflix, or even a Wifi signal distract us. It’s just us in the great outdoors. I think I am a better dad because of it, and I know Collier is a better scout from it.
Was it a week filled with sweat and bug bites? Yep.
Did I have blisters between my toes from all the walking by the end of the week? Sure.
Was it a hassle to find time to sneak off to the Scoutmaster lounge to get some work done? Of course.
Would I do it again? You betcha.
All in all, we had a great time at camp this year. I’m thankful that we got a week of camp in. The following week of camp was canceled due to low registration, so I feel especially blessed to be able to get our week in. If you have a son who is homeschooled, you owe it to him and yourself to get him involved in scouts. If you have a son who is on the Autism Spectrum, you owe it to him and yourself to get him involved in scouts. If you have a son, you owe it to him and yourself to get him involved in scouts. The lessons they learn are life lessons that they will take with them forever, not to mention the socialization they get with other great kids and their dads.
We had a great time this year, coming home with lots of memories… and a few chiggers.