By Gayne C. Young
The Piney Woods just outside Bastrop, Texas, is what I imagine Hell would be like if Hell had high humidity. The area is oppressively hot, carries edge-of-death humidity, and is home to Lost Pines Scout Reservation. I was lucky enough to attend camp there this past week with local Boy Scout Troop 137. Here’s my experience, told through actual quotes:
“Welcome to camp! First things first, please wear your wristband at all times, so we know you’re supposed to be here. Last week we had several homeless men–I guess they snuck over through the woods from the rehab center–come by for free meals. One had breakfast, lunch, and dinner before we realized he wasn’t supposed to be here.
“It’s gonna hit 104 degrees today. Please make your Scouts drink water. We had four go down last week to dehydration.
“Scouts may not swim in the lake. We are buffered up against the power plant and the water temp out there’s about 92. It blows off the lake and toward camp just adding to the misery.
“Wear shoes in the shower. We had a Scout get nailed by a copperhead while taking a shower a few years back.
“We prefer no one to wear head coverings in the dining hall; that’s for religious reasons but we can’t enforce it cuz of other religious reasons so … Well, do with that what you will. BUT, no tank tops in camp. That looks trashy and has no religious precedence, so don’t wear ‘em!
“This is a touchy one … Some African American Scouts were calling one another the N-word yesterday on the basketball court. We can’t have that. We can’t have that because the minute a White Scout says it, all hell will break loose. We can’t have a double standard at camp. Also, we can’t have African American Scouts calling White Scouts–with affection or not–White Chocolate Brutha. We just can’t.
“I can’t believe I have to say this but please tell your Scouts that these are all new bath houses. They are on a septic system. DO NOT flush rocks, water bottles, full bags of Doritos or a whole roll of toilet paper down the toilet!
“Three went home with COVID yesterday.” That was all from Camp Director Toni at the daily Adult Leadership Meetings during the first day of camp.
“Toni went down with COVID. I’m taking her place.” –The new Camp Director at the daily Adult Leadership Meeting on the third day of camp.
“Thank you for letting me use your phone. It’s really wet cuz my ear was sweaty,” said a Scout in Troop 137 after I let him use my phone to call home.
“Um … Yeah, I’m not eating this.” –A Scout in Troop 137 after one bite of his chicken sandwich at lunch.
“What class you got next my White Chocolate Brutha?” A Scout in Troop 137 after one bite of his chicken sandwich at lunch.
“Do you eat turkey?! Are you a vegetarian?! Pull those AirPods out of your ears and ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME NOW!” –An adult server in the dining hall losing it on a Scout.
“A Scout had a scorpion drop on his face in his tent last night. Another Scout stepped on a coral snake in his camp yesterday.” – The new Camp Director at the daily Adult Leadership Meeting on the fourth day of camp.
“Um … Yeah, I’m not eating this.” –A Scout in Troop 137 after one bite of his pulled pork Sloppy Joe sandwich at lunch.
“Thank God for my Melinda’s Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce!” –Me at every meal.
“Who wants to sing a song?!” The new Camp Director to camp while standing in an open field before dinner while it’s 104 degrees.
“Um …Yeah, I’m not eating this.” A Scout in Troop 137 after one bite of his meatball sub at lunch.
“Who stole my hot sauce?! How am I gonna eat this crap without hot sauce?!” –Me at lunch on Thursday.
“Have a Manic Monday… A Terrific Tuesday… A wistful Wednesday… A tasteful Thursday… A fantastic Friday!” –The overly joyful female cashier every single day I bought a Diet Dr Pepper at the Trading Post.
“The horror. The horror.” –Me cracking up in the oppressive heat and humidity by quoting Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now around midnight on Thursday night.
“I have ants in my belly button!” –A Scout in Troop 137.
“How lucky are we?! Four nights straight without one Bigfoot attack. Let’s hope this trend holds. Good night boys.” –Me wishing goodnight to three 11-year-old, first-year campers.
“Damn gnats!” –A Scout in Troop 137 screaming like a banshee one night. (Allow me to go on record as saying I told the kid several times to bring mosquito netting.)
“Pull into that McDonalds’! I’ll pay you! Do it!” –A Scout in Troop 137 riding in my truck on the way home from camp.
“What the hell?! I’m gonna kill that kid!” –Me upon entering my house to see what my 18-year-old son had done to my home in my week-long absence.