Posted by: ladybughugs | July 21, 2009

Parent’s Night

Lil'bug, as I was leaving.

Lil'bug, as I was leaving to visit Scout.

Last Wednesday I visited Scout at sleep-away camp. Every year the leaders of the troop ask themselves if they want to have a parents night. They weigh all the pros and cons. The biggest negative is that the boys get a bit mushy when it’s time for the parents to leave. Some get a bit mushy earlier than that and some start the night with, “I want to sleep in my own bed tonight.”

Scout was one of those that wanted to sleep in his own bed. He reasoned that H could bring him back up in the morning.

We went for a walk. I figured that he might need a little time and space to release some of the stress of holding it in and staying strong. He showed me around the camp—the handicraft area where he earned his fingerprinting merit badge and was working on the leatherwork badge; the mess hall; the waterfront, where he’d been spending most of his time earning his swimming merit badge and a partial canoeing badge in addition to a lot of ‘free swim’ time. He still wanted to go home for the night.

In the end I held firm, even though I was dying to hold him and take him home and cry with him. I pointed out that the other boys were going through the same thing. If so-and-so could do it, then he could. If that boy is tough enough, then he certainly is, too. He’s tougher and stronger than they are, after all! It’s only two more days! I understood as well as anyone what he was feeling and also knew what giving in would mean. I didn’t want him to cave and go home under those circumstances and end up regretting it later because he was “that boy,” you know, the one who couldn’t hack it, the one who gave up, the one who went home with his head hanging low and his tail between his legs. The leaders say that the half-hour after all the parents leave is spent around the campfire drying tears, then the boys go back to campfire songs and skits and playing cards or board games in their tents and all is well…until next year, when they’ll need to decide again if it’s all worth it.

Scout in his tent.

Scout in his tent.

What you don’t see are the bugs. and the dirt. He was covered in bug bites from head to toe. There were daddy long legs everywhere. We unpacked his trunk on the front lawn almost directly into the washing machine. I don’t know how he isn’t scratching some part of his body constantly.

His cot is the one on the left, the one without the mosquito netting…or a sleeping bag. Apparently, his tent mate stayed in camp to reinstall the netting after inspection. This being July he went off to camp with a sheet and a lightweight blanket, because JULY! HEAT! HUMIDITY! At the parent orientation the leader told us a warm sleeping bag was overkill and who would have thought the temperature would go down to 50° at night! The trunk under his cot, by the way, is not very good at keeping track of his personal belongings. On Friday night he walked down to dinner under the umbrella of one of his leaders instead of in his poncho, which I found on Saturday afternoon in the plastic Ziploc bag in which it was packed when I helped him organize his packing (yes, he saw me pack the bag).

P.S. Oh, the dirt. You really don’t see the dirt. On Sunday night he came to me because his feet hurt. This was an hour after he’d been sent to bed (my ‘me’ time, so I defend it rather rabidly). His feet looked like something you’d expect to see on a homeless person that had been wandering the city barefoot for the last month. They were awful and disgusting and gross *suppressing gag reflex*. This was after a shower when he returned on Saturday morning, before taking a three-hour nap. There was dirt and calluses and dirt and cracked, dried, chapped skin on places I never would have expected cracked, dried, and chapped skin. You’d think they wouldn’t be so bad with all the time he spent in the water swimming. You’d be wrong, I was wrong. I spent a half-hour soaking, scrubbing, exfoliating, scrubbing some more, and then moisturizing his poor feet. Then I applied some more lotion before having him put his socks on and going to bed, hoping for a warm, moist heat to let the moisturizing lotion soak in. Last night they still looked terrible. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time to let them heal.

The scoutmaster on this trip was impressed by his stalwartness. He said he didn’t complain about anything. He was surprised to find, on the last night, that Scout didn’t have a sleeping bag, or something warmer to sleep under/in and that he didn’t complain about being cold. I’m proud of him for that, because yeah, he could have mentioned it to someone and (at the very least) I could have brought his sleeping bag with me to parent’s night.

We’ll see what happens next year. He insists he will not go back. They say all the boys say that now and then can’t wait to go back when the time comes. The older boys say that. Maybe I’ll promise to bring him home on Wednesday just to get him cleaned up!


  1. Tell Scout that his MOM, at age 21, was the QUEEN OF HOMESICKNESS ! ! !
    I know that you know how he felt — I know you’ll never forget that feeling ! ! !

  2. I never was the ‘camp’ kind of kid, but I respected those who were. My best friend was in Boy Scouts and camped out a lot. I was way, WAY to easily swayed to stay home. Now, looking back, I wish I had Scout’s experience. I think that even though he says he’ll never go back (and he might not), he’ll always hold those memories fondly.

    -Turkish Prawn

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