Memories . . .
I remember a warm day, the smell of pine, sun on canvas. I was at Camp HIgh Sierra with my Boy Scout troop. I was a pre-teen, 11 or 12. I had never been anywhere without my family before.
So the memory that inspired this post was really not any of those things, although I am sure they were all there. It was going into my tent, probably after lunch since it was full day, and finding a nice neat turd on my sleeping bag.
I remember that there were three or four other boys there, laughing at my predicament. I remember wondering how it could have gotten there, what animal could it have been. I don’t remember much about the environs. Of course, it was the high Sierra, probably 4 or 5 thousand feet elevation, among the pines. Whether there were wild animals around was the subject of some debate but, regardless, something had gotten in and pooped on my sleeping bag.
I think I knew enough to know that it wasn’t a human turd but beyond that I was clueless. I think the best explanation seemed to be a that it was from a raccoon. That raccoons are night creatures was not known to me.
Of course the other boys in the tent thought it was hilarious. I remember thinking that maybe I could reach into the bag under the turd and fling it out of the tent. The sides were open and it seemed possible in my desperation. Why I didn’t go get a paper towel and pick it up remains a mystery. Maybe there were no paper towels in the bathrooms. I certainly remember a major aversion to touching it.
By now, gentle reader, you will have realized that it was a prank. The ‘turd’ was a bit of plastic. After 10 or 15 minutes of hilarity, it was revealed to me by the perpetrator. I don’t remember anything about him or any of the other boys who were there. There were no other incidents like that during my time at Camp High Sierra.
I was an introverted, bookish boy. I don’t remember why I joined the Boy Scouts, I remember the troop met at the church parish hall so there was some connection there. I went to Camp High Sierra twice, each time for a week, in the summer. It was the only time I did any serious work on merit badges. Merit badges, for those who don’t know, were the raison d’etre of the Boy Scouts. One started out as a Tenderfoot and rose through the ranks by earning merit badges. The really cool kids had a sash to put their badges on. The top of the heap was an Eagle Scout. I didn’t get enough merit badges to merit a sash.
At Camp High Sierra, somehow, I learned to do what we called ‘lanyards’. Lanyards were these long skinny multicolored plastic things that could be woven into shapes. Ironically, there were no merit badges for ‘lanyards’. Or perhaps that is telling that that is what I spent so much time on. Anyway, I made a kind of a key fob that I still have. It’s all that’s left besides memories.