Boggy Bottoms

My boy is a cub scout.
This makes me a scout mom.
I believe I have already shared that I am, in no way, smart enough to be a scout mom. There are badges, achievements, chips, pins, and even beads. I didn’t even know beads existed until I received an email about all the ones earned by other boys who have other moms who all seem to know what beads are and how to earn them. If I needed a bead, I would just go to a bead store and buy one. But who am I kidding? I will never need a bead.

I’m way off track already, which is very bad news, because there are stories to be told.

All year I’ve been dreading doing an official scout campout. The dread comes from several sources. (1) Lack of togetherness. I won’t continue to beat that horse. (2) Lack of control. I have issues with this. (3) Official things kinda just freak me out. It leaves a whole lot of space to mess it up. People who know me well, and know my children, know that I don’t like to pass up an opportunity for a gargantuanly proportioned catastrophic moment.

But the date was on the calendar for April 1-3 and it was the last chance to camp with them for the year. AG wanted to go, so we planned it. And in making the decision, while still sitting up on that fence, I heard two things that decided it for me: (1) Lupton’s Barbecue (owners of the Boggy Bottom Ranch) was catering Saturday night’s meal, (2) The leaders had confirmed that there were hot showers on the ranch. Alright, let’s do it. A nice hot meal on Saturday night and a shower. That sounded divine.

And then, last week. the rain set in. It was the kind of rain that makes the popcorn fall off my ceiling and gets kids into the duck and cover position for tornadoes. Crazy rain. I could not do much in the way of organizing my car or packing. I didn’t even want to get out to do the shopping. Friday was a mad dash to do everything. It was drying up. I shopped, I packed, I planned, and I threw everything into the car that one day. Then I dropped the girls to Todd for them to have some local fun together under the umbrella of technology (he had a deadline to meet) and the boys and I took off into the middle of nowhere. For real. It took like a year to get there. Really just an hour. But still.

On the way there, I was mentally thinking through what I had packed and what the scout list said to pack. A shovel was on there. A shovel? What for? Dead bodies that fall in the field of Boggy Bottoms? Burying cat carcasses? I still don’t know what the shovel was for. I saw some there, but don’t know what their employment was. I didn’t bring a shovel. Nor did I miss it. A lighter or matches. That seems important. Didn’t pack that. Dunderhead. So we had to stop on the way. Already I had forgotten a crucial item. While in Walgreens shopping for lighters, we bought some awkwardly packaged girl scout cookies in a sandwich baggies to support Relay for Life. I’m a total fan of the cause. I do think they could have come up with something less awkward than Mary Lou’s leftover Trefoils for 25 cents a bag. But who’m I to question it? I bought them and ate 10 on the way to the campsite. Thus began my slide into a very dark place.

As I made the rest of the 10,000 mile drive, lighter in hand, I had an inward little chat with myself. Think like a man, Missy. You can put up a tent on your own. You are up to this. This is going to be super awesome. And then I pulled into the site. There were already many, many tents up and most people were done and relaxing. There were dads and there were boys. There were no scared-looking moms on hand. Trying to appear that I had everything under control, I rolled down my window and spoke to Mr. Van Augen (names changed to protect the people I don’t hate).

“Can we set up anywhere?” I asked. That seemed like a good question. He answered yes, but offered no further input. My confidence was waning. “Um, do you have any advice for picking a site?” I asked. My cover was blown and I hadn’t even put the car in Park yet. He mentioned avoiding fire ant hills and trying to find shade. I got out and looked around and picked a spot that was perfect.

So far, so awesome.

I allowed Mamasboy to run willy nilly in the field, because truthfully his kind of help isn’t quite what I needed. But I got AG on the tent assembly task with me. He hung with me on this, helping me with tent poles and stakes. Running around with a hammer and hammering things that you could push with a finger. Finally, a rather sizable fella came over and offered his know-how and muscle. And though I could have done it on my own, he shaved about an hour of “huh” time off my instruction-reading process.  The tent was up.

I sat down in a camp chair to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Less than 14 seconds later, Mamasboy had to use the bathroom. And I mean he had to USE THE BATHROOM. Well, there are bathrooms with hot showers, so let’s just find those. I looked around as he danced and panicked.

And that’s when I saw them.
The bathrooms.
Mr. Van Augen had referred to where the bathrooms were in pointing out considerations for a site. He had pointed to the southeast corner of the field. Two gray and white port-o-lets sat side by side at the bottom of this field. The bathrooms. I needed about 25 minutes to fully digest this fact, but I didn’t have that kind of time. Mamasboy needed those bathrooms. Right then. So off we ran, to drop the first of many horrors into one of those portable, non-flushing toilets. Oh, the horror. Oh, the unspeakable horror. We were the first to use them.

The rest of that night was pretty pleasant. We pan fried some hot dogs over a camp stove. We ate. We chatted with a few people. On the way back from the trash can, I approached my neighbor just to my west.

“Hello!” I said, as friendly as you can imagine. “If we’re going to be neighbors, I might as well introduce myself. I’m Missy,” I said, and stuck my dorky little hand out. That was stupid. Why’d I say all of that? If we are going to be neighbors? This is a cub scout campout, you dufus. He had just taken a massive bite of grilled hamburger. When he cleared his gullet, he told me his name was James and his boy’s name was Jimmy. And that was that. That was all he said. We were practically best friends after that. I could hear happy little clarinets playing when he shot a look my direction.

That night, the boys and I hunkered down in our tent together and tried to stay warm. They fell asleep almost immediately. But every time I would get into that soft, fuzzy state of dozing, I would get shocked awake by a train whistle. Trains. Running. Out in the middle of nowhere. At 11:30 at night. What? It was surreal. But I confirmed with other sleepy parents the following morning. There were indeed MANY train whistles that occurred between 11-12 that night. I wasn’t just having a night terror.

It felt like I didn’t sleep at all that night. But I do believe I fell asleep just after midnight. And like 5 minutes later, my alarm was going off for my school morning routine. Oh, that’s just BRILLIANT. I forgot to reset my cell phone school alarm. So I woke up the boys and  half the campground at 6:20 on a dark Saturday morning. Beautiful.
So, we were up at 6:20 and down at the port-0-potty, ready to catch a disease, by 7. Nothing says wide open spaces like a port-o-let.

By 9 a.m., the activities were starting. We learned to cook quesadillas over a campfire, tie fancy knots, assemble and break down a tent (thanks for nothing, people. You’re 12 hours too late). We made marshmallow shooters from PVC pipe, made ammo bags to  hold the baby marshmallows, etc. When sitting with AG to help with the ammo bags, I was handed a some felt and a needle and yarn. AG looked at me, then the ladies running that table, and announced quite matter-of-factly to the ladies in charge, “She can’t sew.” Awesome.  I had a few choice things I thought up to say in response, but decided to just answer by totally rocking the ammo bag sewage like you have never seen. I made an ammo bag for Mamasboy. One of the Den Mothers made AG’s bag. Her bag fell apart 6 hours later. Mine is still holding baby marshmallows.

Who needs a thimble now? Huh?

To Be Continued…

Camping in Crazy Bottom Ranch

I’ve been offline. In Scaryville. I have stories to tell. But the best thing I can do this afternoon is clean out my car, take a pill that cleanses me from diseases, and call my therapist to tell him about the potty situation in Scaryville. I’m pretty sure he can’t help me.

Tonight, I am hoping to sit down and tell the stories. Since I don’t really have a therapist and can’t afford one anyway, that role will reside with the reader. Please get in touch with your deepest compassion and wisdom, put on a robe, get a pipe, and help me. Later.

For now, here are a couple of lists:

Top Ten Reasons Not to Go Camping for 3 days and 2 nights:

  1. 155% humidity. This affects everything from the bottom of your tent to the inside of your car windshield to the quality of your Fritos.
  2. Mosquitos. Angry, angry mosquitos.
  3. Port-o-lets. There just are no words. Unfortunately for you, I will find some and say much, much more about this than you ever wanted to know.
  4. Nobody at the campsite likes you.
  5. You don’t like anyone at the campsite.
  6. If you lock your keys in the car, you’ll pretty much be sunk. Not that I would know. Sure.
  7. Sleeping bags never stay in position. You always end up with the zipper under you in the most awkward way possible. This phenomenon came into existence one second after the Stray Sock Phenomenon.
  8. It takes one full day to pack up and one full day to unpack. For those who don’t like math, that adds up to the same amount of time you actually are camping.
  9. Short people who are also short on sleep are short on patience. That’s too many short things in one sentence.
  10. Mamasboy.

Top Ten Reasons TO go camping for 3 days and 2 nights:

  1. Mamasboy.
  2. Camp chairs with drink holders in the arm.
  3. Fires.
  4. Open air.
  5. Stars. LOTS of stars.
  6. Sleeping 2 inches from my favorite people in the world who don’t yet know that I’m not the coolest person ever.
  7. Lupton’s barbecue and free Coke Zero. (I’ll explain later. I know this wouldn’t typically make a Top Ten Camping list…)
  8. Cooking hotdogs and s’mores over an open fire. Snacking straight out of a cooler.
  9. Reading by flashlight.
  10. If you do lock your keys in your car, and there are 45 cub scouts roaming the area, you have a 95% chance that one of them has a father who used to steal cars for a living. Boo-yah.