My Last Campout Ever

“Time goes, you say? Alas, time stays. We go.”

–  Austin Dobson

 

Around a year ago, I was on a trip with Boy Scouts and started dishing out my opinions on quite a few things. Mostly books and movies, but I touched on the music industry as well. By the end of the afternoon, several people told me the same thing: “Dude, you should get a blog.”

The main reason I wanted a blog, other than to give out opinions, was because words are concrete. You can write about a life experience as soon as it’s over, and that writing will always be there. I’m going to use that to my advantage tonight, because after all my writing about scout campouts, I got back yesterday from the last one I would ever attend. And I think I owe it to my friends who went with me to write a good, solid summary of it, so that they can go back to it whenever they want same as me.

Our troop goes to see the ocean every June. Last year was my first time going on this trip, and my first time ever seeing an ocean. It became my favorite trip other than the Christmas Campout, which I blogged about back in December.

So then, my last campout ever. It was awesome; in fact, I’d be willing to say it’s the best of all the scout campouts I’ve been on in the past seven years. I’ll do my usual daily breakdown, since I can assume all non-interested readers have already closed out the post.

 

Day 1: Friday, June 14, 2013

I was already in a good mood when I showed up at the meeting point at noon, having spent the morning hanging out with my girlfriend after going out to breakfast. Good part number one clicked into place when I was assigned the best car arrangement: me and two close friends. One of them I’ve known for four years and talk with a lot; the other is my best friend who also happens to be one of my Ideal Readers.

Anyway. The ride up was fun, mostly spent talking, arguing with each other, and programming the car’s amazing GPS—the thing was seriously magical—to take us to a McDonald’s, because we were ready to implode with hunger.

Fifteen minutes later…

“That’ll be $8.65.”

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And thus, I set a new record: most money I’ve ever spent at McDonald’s.

The rest of the drive there was pretty relaxed, as was set-up. We all pitched our tents in the sand in a campsite practically next to the ocean, which made for an awesome layout. Then after we’d all changed and gotten settled, it was time for a walk down to the beach.

I’d forgotten how pretty it was.

It was relaxing hanging out on the beach and talking, though we had some interesting company in the distance. I just talked with my best friend (one of the people in the car) and another close friend (not in the car) about politics; specifically, which forms of dictatorship we would prefer to enact if we were ever in charge of the world.

You know, normal teenage stuff.

The kicker of the night, though, came when we were preparing to head off to bed. A wind came through the site (that’s pretty normal). Then our tents started getting ripped out of the ground (that isn’t).

Mine was the coolest, because it did a triple backflip and scrambled up all of my possessions like a roller coaster ride. I must say, I’ve been in scouts for seven years, and the experience of trying to secure my tent in a mini-hurricane while everything was blowing around was an entirely new sensation. It was crazily scary during the time, but great to look back on. After securing our tents, we took shelter in the cars for a few minutes while the worst of it passed.

Luckily, we didn’t have much damage, unless you count a tipped over porta-potti. Which in Scouts, maybe you do.

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Day 2: Saturday, June 15, 2013

My day hit the ground running when I got up early to watch the sun come up.

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The morning wasn’t complicated. We ate breakfast, changed, and all walked down to the beach. Me, my best friend, and our politics-talking buddy from last night all found a clear area in the sand and laid down to relax. When we were younger scouts, we all went swimming and splashing around in the ocean. But we’d done that before, the water was chilly, and we were tired. Being a teenager is hard work. So, we just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

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We also talked. Kind of a lot. The main subject of the conversation was high school, since out of the three of us one was in it, one had just finished, and one was about to start. A quote from the conversation that I think is worth putting on my blog: “Everyone changes in high school. Some for better, some for worse. But everyone changes.”

After lunch, my tradition gears kicked in, and the four older scouts—myself included—walked to a gift shop a bit up the road to buy milkshakes. I know, going to a rest stop during a campout is kind of cheating, but we were on the beach. Plus, we’d gotten milkshakes last year, which means we’d done it every year I’d gone.

After this we headed back to the beach and resumed our talk, though the topic this time around was girls and relationships, and how complicated they were in high school. This was enough conversation to keep us busy until 4 PM, when we headed right back to the gift shop.

Again, this was tradition: get milkshakes at the start of the afternoon, get sodas and ice cream at the end. The place sells the soda in these cool aluminum bottles, which totally makes it worth the $4.

B.S. is a popular game on campouts, and we played it along with spoons up until dinner. Then after dinner it was relatively mellow: get a campfire going and change into sleeping clothes. The sunset wasn’t too bad either.

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I decided to sleep outside my tent, just as I had last year. When I’d done it then, you could see the stars and there was a nice breeze and it was nice to be alone.

That was all true this year except the last part, because half the troop decided to join me. I was actually glad of that, though, because it meant I could talk with everyone before I fell asleep (I hadn’t done that since January, my last campout as a kid).

My best friend and I stayed up until roughly 2 AM talking, which was kind of the highlight. First topic: movies. Specifically, The Dictator and the funniest lines from it. Then it was talk of how weird it was I was leaving for college soon, and how I would make a bunch of new friends. The last topic was the bulk of the conversation: stuff that was bothering us.

Sound vague? Sorry, that’s as detailed as I’m getting. Each of us had a few things bothering us—99% of them having to do with girls—and neither of us really liked talking to other people about them. So, naturally, we talked to each other about them. Confusing? Yeah, life gets like that a lot.

Around 1 AM came one more adventure to close out my camping experience.

As described, I was talking to my best friend. Then I hear movement behind me (keep in mind, I’m laying in a sleeping bag on the sand). I look up and see something towering over me. And it takes me a minute to believe it, because that something is a wild horse.

My friend and I were both whispering, since it was nighttime, and our whisper-screaming—“OH MY GOD, A HORSE!”—must have been comical. I curled up into a ball and continued whisper-yelling as the horse walked over to another scout, picked up their flashlight in its teeth, and galloped away.

Well if that didn’t close out my camping experience.

 

That’s about it for the campout. In the morning we just packed up and drove home, once again listening to music. Specifically “Radioactive” and Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack,” which we had no shame in singing to at the top of our lungs.

Most of our camping gear was full of sand, my tent was a few stakes short due to the storm, we were all sunburned, and my heart was permanently beating faster due to the almost-being-trampled-by-a-horse incident. But it was all worth it, and it was all part of what camping is about: adventure.

As I said, though, the highlight has to be the talking with my best friend. I know that’s vague and probably meaningless to a lot of people, but I’m sure everyone can think of at least one similar thing they’ve done. Getting to know someone about as well as you can is an interesting experience, especially if you’ll be saying bye to all of your friends soon, including them.

But as always, I try to close on a note of optimism. I try to look at how much I’ve grown in the last year alone, considering this trip is the one where people suggested I get a blog.

These seven years of camping have been the best of my life so far, and it’s hard to imagine not going on a scout trip again. But I’m grateful for the memories, for the pictures and jokes and bro talks, and everything that makes days worth waking up for.

Right now I’m happy about all that and sad about leaving it behind, and kind of excited for how I’ll change in the next year but also scared about it. Confusing, right?

Life gets like that a lot.

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