Last week I spent the night at Camp Arrowhead with my resident Cub Scout.
He was a Lion Cub last year, the first year the program has been offered to kindergarteners, and he recently advanced to the rank of Tiger Cub. This meant he was among the youngest campers there, and this was a whole new experience for him.
It was a new experience for me, too. We had one of the big canvas Scout tents that are already erected on site, and these are not fully enclosed. Instead, heavy canvas is draped over a central rod and skirts the concrete floor. Any manner of critter can slither in at the hem.
I’m deathly afraid of spiders, but my first day at Scout camp wore me out, so I ended up turning in while sleepily eyeballing a wolf spider directly over my head. Camp does that to you — sleep comes easily, no matter the situation.
You can learn a lot at Scout camp, even in a single day. My Tiger and I collaborated on making bubble mix from two expected ingredients — water and soap — but we also included about a tablespoon of white Karo syrup, and this was a surprise to me, because it made the soap bubbles firmer.
I also witnessed a fire-starting competition, where teams of Scouts used a variety of devices, like magnifying glasses and sticks with strings, in a race to see who could get a fire going first.
The rock wall was also a lot of fun, too, and I was really shocked to see children as young as six making it all the way to the top of a 60-foot tower before rappelling easily down. That's one of the benefits of camp. Kids challenge themselves and each other to achieve feats that they otherwise would not get to try. Seeing children push themselves to meet a challenge is inspiring to behold.
In general, I enjoyed Scout camp quite a bit, except for the food, which seemed more in keeping with the dietary tastes of grade-schoolers than those of middle-aged editors.
Incidentally, it was nice to see some girl BSA Scouts there, too, as this is the first year the organization has allowed non-male members. I do think Scout camps around the country have some work to do with infrastructure to fully accommodate girl members. For instance, each camp contains an undivided two-seater outhouse with a trough for a urinal, and these are housed inside a doorless structure, which isn’t optimal for girls, and especially not for mothers, who must risk being charged in on mid-tinkle by shocked schoolchildren, or else must trudge a quarter mile to camp headquarters to use the flush toilets. A door would fix the whole problem, and maybe we’ll get one before next year’s camp. It’s high time. After all, moms have been attending camp for many years
I was glad I went to Camp Arrowhead, if only for a short time. It’s great to see kids having fun in an environment that has been created for them to do so both independently and safely. There are few places in Missouri more beautiful than our county's own Camp Arrowhead, and it would be a mistake to pass up a chance to sing campfire songs under the stars or to make a lava lamp from oil, water and food coloring in the Nature Lodge, or even to study a wolf spider close up before drifting off into a surprisingly easy sleep.