Camp-out time again! This time: canoeing down the Current River in Missouri. Check your maps; you’ll find that it’s a seven hour drive from my house. Here we see one of the down sides to living in a place where there aren’t a huge number of noteworthy campsites. Of course, the scoutmasters have to come up with some good stuff to keep the boys in the program or we lose them to soccer so we have to do stuff like this but one occasionally wishes for more varied geography closer to home. No matter, I like dumb jokes so I was right at home with them. And in seven hours, you hear a lot of dumb jokes.

It’s been really hot here. We’ve had about 20 consecutive days of over 100 degree heat and no rain so I was not looking forward to this campout. I was asking the experienced guys: “how do you sleep in this heat?” The answer was “we lay there until 3:00 am till it gets cooler.” But, talk about lucky – it was cooler in Missouri. In fact, the water was downright icy. I guess it’s cooler because of the rain. Man, it rained two solid inches the first night. Fortunately, that was after we set up camp so all our stuff was dry.

The day we floated downriver, it also rained on us for awhile. Then again, when we were breaking camp. Also, when we were heading off to go fishing. But in all this, it never rained when we wanted to do something fun, so it wasn’t quite as gruesome as you might think. A bit muddy perhaps.

One shouldn’t underestimate the natural beauty of rivers like that one. It was 10 miles of almost paradise. We saw rocky cliffs, swooping hawks, one swimming snake (yuk!), a cave that we could paddle the canoe into and explore, clear water, and all manner of other nice things. This would probably include two or three boatloads of “healthy” looking young girls which caught the eye of some of our older boys.

We’re so conditioned by everyday life to think that we have to get in out of the rain. But, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, that’s not an option. Then you think, “Hey, I’m in my swimsuit, in the middle of a river where I’ve just been swimming. I don’t need to get out of the rain.” At that point, it becomes really interesting. You can see what the world looks like under different conditions. Of course, lightning changes that picture somewhat but we didn’t have that to worry about.

We went fishing at a trout hatchery. This river was absolutely cram packed with trout; the water was so clear we could see them and cast our bait right to them. We could also watch them completely ignore our bait. Evan was giving vent to his frustration by saying “Stupid Trout!” but I think they were either smart or just not hungry. Evan even dragged his bait across one their backs and still they ignored his bait. So they outsmarted us. But being able to actually see them kept most of the fishermen in their spots for the entire day. I began to wonder if we were all a part of some big psychology experiment and were being observed by some hidden scientists disguised as deer. For you see, there were a lot of deer out on the edges of the woods eyeballing us as we fished. I don’t personally like fishing but that’s not something you come out and say in Oklahoma. Evan likes it though so I go along but not as often as he would like. One day we need to find a pond that is stocked with starving fish so that they will bite on anything. He’d really like that. Unfortunately, he wants to keep all the fish and put them into an aquarium.

So, it was a good experience. The camp site had some coin-op showers over at the store so I was able to maintain a certain amount of dignity (as well as enjoying the flushable side of life). Several families came with us so there was generally more emphasis on personal hygiene than on most campouts. Elegance is not a word that has a lot of relevance when camping and for most guys, that’s one of the selling points but with moms along, the bar is raised somewhat no matter what you might think otherwise.

On the trip home, our vehicle contained a 10-year old, a 12-year old, and a 14-year old so the other dad and I had to go to some effort to defend ourselves against charges of dorkiness. We are guilty of course but, as adults, we have the wherewithal to exert our control and to this end, we put an end to the endless string of Destiny’s Child songs that they wanted to hear. The best defense against charges of out-of-touch-ness is a good offense so when we shoved in a Howlin’ Wolf blues CD the howls from the back seat were loud and long. In best adolescent fashion, we dads rolled our eyes and said:

“God! You just don’t get it do you?”

That put things in a different light – for a short while anyway. (Of course, Howlin’ Wolf never included posters of scantily clad young women in his CDs) Further, during a moment of discussion about life in general I came up with what may be the best point of view of all. I told the boys:

“You know what’s really cool about being an adult? We own everything! Heck, we even own YOU!”

To that, they had no response. They’re smart kids though; I’m sure that soon, one of them will have a response and hit me with it during our next outing.