This has been a lonely week around our house; Evan has been gone for a full seven days to Tom Hale Scout Reservation which is where the Boy Scouts hold their big summer camp out every summer. The weather has been pretty good; not too hot and little rain which has made for a more enjoyable campout (for the boys and scoutmasters, that is).

He got back Saturday. Erin had been missing him pretty badly and was trying to engage him in conversations about video games – which he enthusiastically engaged in. Meanwhile, Melissa and I kept trying to get him to talk about camp. Finally, we compromised in the way that only parents can: we threatened Erin with banishment to her room if she didn’t stop talking. Evan actually sat down to write a letter some time right after they set up camp. He never mailed it although he did send us a postcard later. You can get an idea for yourself what camp was like; read it for yourself (I left in the misspellings and what not):

First day

We got there it was very hot!!! I am sweating. I am bunking with Mat. I think it will be fun our tent is very hot. It is so hot I can’t describe it. lets just say its hot outside and its hotter in here. We went on a tour and we got ice cream we learned where everything was. there is a new bathroom that looks nice. We opened the flap on our tent and now its a lot cooler. I had $1 and ?cents after getting chedr bites and a small root beer at sonic on the way here. I am kinda having fun. our tent has a lot of patches and there are 3 old glw sticks hanging on the top. My pillow is hot. Mat looks bored Some other kids in our troop are talking loudly but we are quite except for me speaking while I write this and Mat is saying OOPSIES. I wonder what he did. I feel good I think I’m going to have a good time. I bought some extra very minty mints at Flying J on the way. I forgot the lock combination but I looked under my case and it was there. You had a great idea. I laid down on my cot. the front legs fell in and I slid down. it was kinda fun. P.S. The cot isn’t broken.

In case you weren’t counting, the word “hot” appears 6 times. Apparently, he felt it was a little hot. Regarding “Mat”, his tentmate, he had only to say that “by the end of the week, I was getting pretty sick of him.”

He did an amazing variety of things but the coolest was metalworking. He was actually allowed to use a blowtorch; by golly, you won’t find those Girl Scouts doing anything like that. They keep advertising Boy Scouts in the schools as a place to build character and other “moral high road” sorts of things when what they should do is go straight to the boys and tell them: “Hey you get to shoot BB guns, play with fire, use blowtorches, and all that real guy stuff.”

He made several things out of metal. The official scout badge book makes some strange specifications: “Make something out of at least 20 gauge steel.” I suppose that’s so some kid doesn’t try to make something out of aluminum foil and call it good. He also made a couple of things out of soup cans. That’s what I like about the BSA: they can teach a skill effectively by using trash. Unlike Martha Stewart, they usually don’t turn the trash into something that looks nice. It still pretty much looks like an old soup can when the scouts are done but it’s functional and, as I said earlier, they got to use a blowtorch. We can’t underestimate the importance of that. Now he knows how to solder, what solder is, what “acid-core” means, and when to use it.

They kept’em busy down there. Every kid who attended was kept busy working on advancement. Evan took several classes that were geared towards advancing him in rank such as first-aid. The “fun” stuff was all geared towards some merit badge or another.

I’m always amazed at the things you can learn with the Boy Scouts on the cheap. This year, Evan signed up for snow sports (!!!). That one is apparently made possible by some sort of space-age carpeting on a hillside. He also did some mountain biking. He was kept so busy that he never got around to doing any shooting or swimming (which are two things he really likes doing.

While Evan was doing all this, Erin was at the Girl Scout day camp. Boy what a difference! Among the many differences, the one that stands out is the presence of the “singing tree”. They gather under it every morning to sing. I went to help them set up and was promptly set upon by three moms who wanted help setting up their tents. I should have made some comments about how shattering the “glass ceiling” also implies you get to set up your own tents but I kept my mouth shut. I helped set up the tents. They frequently got their tents set up with parts left over. This is generally a Bad Thing since the most frequently found “extra” is the rain fly. This oversight tends not to manifest itself until too late.

Throughout all this, Melissa was at home busy painting the walls. I convinced her that a paint roller was actually fun to use and she made pretty good use of it; leaving the trim work to me. The place is looking better.

There’s no rest for the weary though. The very next day – Sunday – Evan had to show up for a fund-raiser. This week was the weekend for the Green Country Quilter’s Guild show at the convention center and somebody got word that the boy scouts could go help the vendors take down their stalls and load their vehicles for tips. I guess they can pay $100 for professional movers and packers or pay the scouts a $20 “tip”. Cha-Ching! It was pretty hard work but we made it through. We learned that even though cloth doesn’t seem to weight much, when folded and crammed into big RubberMaid tubs, it gets pretty heavy.