We had our August scout campout this weekend. The troop hiked about three and a half miles on the uninhabited east side of Douglas Island. The scouts hiked to a prominent point, which has a little creek that had pink salmon spawning in its lower reach. Keith and parent Chrissy hiked in with about 7 boys and 2 girls. We are the first troop in Juneau with girls in our troop, I think, and they are a great addition to the group. Seems like one of those things that adults might worry about but the kids don’t. When they were talking about the change of name from Boy Scouts to BSA Scouts, one of the boys said BSA stands for “both sexes allowed”. I like it.
I took my boat down and met them at the camp site with much of the camping gear and food. When the hikers arrived, they dropped their packs and 5 boys got on board my boat. We went to check our pots at the cabin. After getting nothing in the first pot, I could tell by their excitement there were crab (7) in the second pot they pulled up. Many had not pulled a pot before, but almost all of them liked to eat crab. We rebaited the pots, reset them, then went fishing for salmon. Meanwhile, another scout dad showed up and took the girls and mom fishing. They got 3 coho salmon right away. We fished for salmon for about an hour. We had one on, but it got off. I checked Jeff’s pot later and got 16 more crab.
I ask the kids as they are screaming in my ear in the boat who is loving me right now. They ask who? I say their parents. I tell them their parents all smile when they drop the kids off for campouts and tell us if we need to keep them out there all week that’s okay – they can miss school. When I see the kids all having fun with each other and gaining skills in camping and the outdoors – and self confidence in doing things on their own – I figure it’s worth it. I hope it pays off later in life for them. If nothing else, it was a weekend not spent playing video games, which has to be good.
It was getting late in the day now when we got back from fishing I dropped off the boys at camp and then anchored the boat in the nearby cove I’ve used when deer hunting. I then pulled myself to shore in the little sport yak I keep on top of the boat with the line from the anchor to the beach that another dad was holding. Back at camp I got to setting up my tent while I still had light. The campsite is my favorite so far in scouting. There were seven other tents all set up among the spruce and hemlock n the rain forest, and the scouts already had a campfire going with firewood I’d brought from our pile at the house.
The boys can pretty much run the trips now. The grub masters were a pair of brothers new to town and to the troop. They made pizza, and we got the crab steaming. The adults and kids gorged on all you can eat crab and the kids also ate pizzas cooked in the dutch ovens with charcoal. Keith then got to work on peach cobbler in the dutch oven. It was perfect with hot chocolate. The kids love hot chocolate. I think they drank up most of the powder in the new can. After a game of something called troglodites they were ready for bed. Incredibly, I had a good nights sleep for the first scouting outing ever. Been taking pills so I don’t have to get up five times a night and wow, camping is a lot more fun.
Today I knew it would be tricky as the mom and daughter and the oldest scout needed to go back by boat to make work and appointments. The other kids wanted to go by boat, of course, too. One said he’d die if he had to hike back, and I said to let me know when the funeral was so I could prepare a good eulogy. Sam, of course, tried to get his pack onto the boat, but Keith was not having any of it. He is good at being the bad cop, and after 20 years of scout leading, he knows how to handle middle schoolers.
Even though I slept well, it was still on a sleeping pad. On the ground. My knee hurts. My sciatica is acting up as I trudge with my pack full of sleeping bag, pad and tent out to the boat. And I didn’t even hike in. I hate some parts of getting old.
I get the group back to the trail head, then load the boat on the trailer and head home to off load the boat and wait for the hikers.
When I return to the trail head several hours later to collect scouts, it’s raining hard. Real hard. Like a thunderstorm. When I get to the trail head, I roll down the window to talk to two waiting parents. And then I hear it. Thunder. We rarely get thunder here. Soon, we hear kids talking and Samuel emerges as the first scout back. He’s always last in. First out. The boys walked through the thunderstorm in the big woods, so it wasn’t so bad. I ask if there were berries along the trail and Samuel said lots of red huckleberries.
More sadness awaits them when he and Issac find out we have to go get cans from the cruise ships that they give us to sell. The cans come crushed in blocks that are put in a cardboard tote that we we offload temporarily to a 20′ container. At the end of the season, AML places a shipping container next to our temporary container, and we load all the cans into it. AML then donates the shipping down to the recycler and the scouts get a nice check that we mainly use to defray the cost of scout camp. The boys are less than thrilled we now have to go get cans, but are consigned to the sad news. Samuel contents himself by eating leftover crab.