S’more than worth it

“Breakfast is served,” I shouted to the dozen hardy campers rousting themselves as another dad and I lugged the large coffees and breakfast sandwiches down the hill to our small campsite. The boys all tore into the bags as if they had not been fed for days. We had guessed correctly–pancakes griddled over the fire one at a time just weren’t going to do it.
Buddy and I had just spent our first night camping. We had taken advantage of an annual gig offered to our Cub Scout pack at the end of each school year by the local Scout troop. Just one overnight in our nearby suburban wilds, it nicely introduced a cooler part of scouting that we don’t get to see much of at his age. I felt ready for the offer this year, having sensed that Buddy now needs more than Pinewood Derbys and Breakfasts with Santa, fun though they are.
So we signed on, and geared up for our rookie trip. We arrived at the site late in the afternoon of a wonderfully bright and dry day, the best of the year so far. My truck’s bed held our new tent, bags, and other gear that I mentally cost-compared (mindful that we were sleeping on the ground for one night) to a stay at a nice hotel downtown. Honestly, had I factored in room service and a decent hotel bar before this, the weekend could have gone either way.
I was able to rationalize our choice over the next couple of hours. Buddy got to help unpack, clear our patch, assemble the tent, and gather kindling as he watched the campfire being built. He ran around making up games with the other scouts as the fire settled to a healthy glow and dusk crept over the horizon. He didn’t once ask how long everything would take or what time we would eat.
We actually had to call the boys in when it was time for s’mores. campfire
He asked me how he should make his, since we had not brought anything to use. I had him find a good stick, then took him aside and showed him a pocketknife that belonged to his grandfather. I told him it was his now, and that we were going to learn to use it safely and responsibly. His eyes widened.
For the next twenty minutes, we practiced cleaning and whittling sticks to cook over the fire with. He didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to the case of chocolate bars sitting next to him.
After a couple of tests, he ran up to me, a fresh s’more in his hand. “I made this for you,” he said, grinning, before he ran off with the other guys. The evening flew by after that.
As we cleaned and packed after cheating at breakfast, I considered our little trip successful. Even though it was more of an outdoor sleep-over, I was hoping that Buddy had learned something. I asked him how he felt about making it through his first night outside.
“Look,” he beamed, showing me the pocketknife still in his pocket, “I still have it and I’m going to take care of it!” Then he gave me a strong hug and thanked me for bringing him.
Even a great hotel bar couldn’t compete with that.

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One response to “S’more than worth it

  1. Pingback: Big rocks beware | Cut the crusts off·

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