Another first for me since the dawn of my MS. I spent Friday night sleeping in the woods.
My 10-year-old son, Alix, is a Cub Scout and we went on a Cub-o-ree camp out this weekend at Camp Shands in the NE Florida wilderness.
I have been fretting about this trip for weeks. Ever since I committed us to go. I knew Alix was psyched up for it, so there wasn't any option of saying "Mommy doesn't feel like it," although the closer the day got, the less I really wanted to do this.
My older son, Mark, (26) said he'd go along, too, and he borrowed this tent (center) from a friend. I'm glad he's got such nice friends with good taste in tents.
I packed every conceivable thing I thought I might need in the middle of the woods...except for a flash light. I remembered that when it got dark and I was trying to navigate through the underbrush to the bathroom facilities.
The truck in that pic was just offloading supplies. We were actually made to park in the parking area which was about 1/4 mile away down a soft sand road.
I can't tell you how many times I had to go back to the jeep for just one more thing I had forgotten to get out of it. Each time I made the trip, I returned to camp exhausted and ecstatic that I had managed to survive without collapsing in the bushes on the way back.
I collapsed in the tent on the queen sized air mattress for which I had purchased an air compressor that plugged into my cigarette lighter. (see? I thought of everything...except the darn flashlight).
The first night we set up camp, ate ham sandwiches and had the very first campfire of my young son's life. Watching his joy around the fire, interacting with the other kids and just being happy and having fun without the aid of a computer or a Xbox, well, it was just a site that I will always treasure.
He had his first Smore. "Oh MY GOSH, MOM!! I've waited my whole life to taste that and I think I just ate Heaven!!"
We laughed until I cried.
Mark has a night shift job and had a real hard time going to sleep that night. He had brought his laptop and luckily for him there was an electrical outlet up by the bathroom, so he hung out up there watching movies on his computer until 3 a.m.
5:30 turned out to be what time our camp leader had in mind for getting up because we all had to go to the Flag Raising Ceremony and we didn't want to miss it...at 8:30! In my house, we can be somewhere by 8:30 after only rolling out of bed at 8:15. These people apparently had to eat breakfast, shower, clean their tents, scrub and polish the great outdoors, and then sit around and wait another hour until it's time to go.
We have a lot to learn about the Cub Scout way of life.
Mark, who was supposed to lead the Webelos around, had opted to skip breakfast, shower, and flag raising, thereby gaining several extra hours of sleep before the Round Robin schedule of events began. Smart boy.
I went to the Flag Raising and came back to camp after having seen the flag raise.
I planted myself in a fold up chair and let the rest of them split off into groups. They went off to basketball and softball games, and then all returned at lunchtime.
In the afternoon I decided I wanted to tag along because there was going to be target practice with bb guns and archery. Neither of these activities had Alix ever participated in before.
He took so long getting his aim just right with the bb gun that my camera batteries died and the fresh ones were back at camp so I got no footage of that.
I did replenish the batteries and catch up to them at archery by driving the jeep. Here's a couple shots of the boys playing with bows and arrows:
We stayed Saturday but opted to leave that night after the Main Camp Fire Event where all the 200 campers gathered to perform skits. We wanted to stay for that because they also had a Flag Retirement Ceremony and it was the first time in my life I saw the American Flag burned and nobody got busted or was screaming or anything. Complete silence and total reverence. And I forgot the camera. It was packed up in the jeep by then.
It was the most awesome sight. To see the red white and blue slowly sink into the flames until it was nothing but ash. It was like I was watching a funeral service or something. It was moving.
We left before Smores that night. I just didn't have an ounce of strength left in me and wanted desperately to lay down on my pillow topped mattress.
Having never known his mother to NOT have MS, Alix was very understanding. He didn't complain but was thankful for the time we had.
Besides, he missed his computer and Xbox.
So, I have accomplished yet another thing I thought I never would again.
I sat in the dirt = $0
slept under the stars = $0
ate ashes, got my hand coated with cactus spines while explaining the plant to a cub scout, bathed in a building so grungy I felt dirtier when I came out, carried my own TP back and forth as if it were a credit card and I was going to be able to pay my own way = all $0...
I had fun with my two sons in the woods. Priceless.