I am not a stranger to camping. I love the bonding that happens over a campfire sing-a-long, a ghost story and s’mores. I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a mountain man or survivalist, though. I am definitely more of an urban camper.
My first memories of camping are as a young child, maybe 5 or 6. I remember watching my dad set up a fairly complicated assembly of poles and putting up our family size canvas tent.
I remember the musty smell of the gear, as if the smell of the campfire and pine needles had permanently bonded to its fabric. The tent smelled like it, the sleeping bags smelled like it, even the pillows that had pictures of koalas on them smelled like it. We always stayed at campgrounds, where it was easy to “car camp”, or drive up, unload, camp, pack up and drive away again.
Those, of course, were memories of family camping. My first ever scout camp was as a Webelos Cub Scout (Cub Scout preparing to bridge into Boy Scouts) in the fourth grade. I got to go to a Camporee with my dad.
A Camporee is a camp hosted by several Boy Scout Troops where they engage in “scout games” like being the fastest troop to build a fire, or “rescue” the first aid “victim”. We had to carry our gear and hike in about a half mile. Looking back, it wasn’t a big deal, but it was the first time I had done it.
I learned a lot that weekend and had a lot of fun. I learned how to make a stretcher out of two poles and a blanket. I learned that Pita bread packs a lot easier than Wonder Bread, but still makes a pretty tasty PB&J. My most vivid memory, though, was an officially unofficial part of most scout camps, and that was the snipe hunt.
The older boys took a bunch of us new Webelos into the woods, not too far, where we could still see the glow of the camp fire, gave us a trash bag and told us to hold the flashlight so the snipe would be attracted to the glow. Our job was just to hold the bag very still and close it when the snipe ran in.
Then the older boys went in the opposite direction to flush out the snipe. There we were, three fourth grade Webelos waiting for the snipe to come running out. Any minute now, here we go. Waiting. The sound of the other boys had long faded away when we decided to go back to camp. When I saw the looks on everyone’s faces, I knew we had been fooled. It was all in good fun and we laughed about it.
About this time every year, I remember that story. You see, we at the Baker household are preparing for our spring family campout with Cub Scout Pack 374. This year we are going to the Cherry Valley Bow Hunters Club in Beaumont. We will be learning archery and BB Gun shooting skills. Undoubtedly, there will be campfires and s’mores, songs and stories. Who knows? Maybe there will even be a snipe hunt.
For more information, visit www.pack374.org or http://www.cherryvalleybowhunters.com/.
David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments here for him or email him at email@example.com.