Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surviving the Boy Scout Nature Hunt

As we ascended the final leg of the hill, Caleb cleared away some brush and squealed, "We made it.  I see the parking lot!"

We exchanged high fives and pulled each other into bear hugs.  It was as if we survived a treacherous wilderness trek and not just an hour and forty-five minute nature trail.

In the parking lot, we were greeted by a crowd of fresh-faced parents eagerly waiting to pickup their children.  Perhaps they spent the last hour at the local Starbucks nestled up with a good book and a latte.  Maybe they just finished a rejuvenating nap.  I  instantly loathed every single one of them.

I could have been standing in the parking lot too.  Instead, I agreed to accompany the Boy Scout troop on a nature treasure hunt (and just for kicks I brought along my other boys too).  With eight boys (plus two grandparents of one of the boys) in tow, it was an adventure.  

The boys entered the hunt with gusto.  They raced past the start with as much energy as if they guzzled Red Bull minutes earlier.  They slowed when it dawned on them that they hadn't the foggiest idea where they were going.  They looked to me for guidance.  Silly boys.  I can barely find my way out of the mall let alone a nature trail with a barely legible map and a compass.  I deferred to the accompanied grandparents as the grandfather claimed to be former military.  (Although he never specified what he did in the military, I'm betting it had absolutely nothing to do with navigation.)  It quickly became apparent they knew even less than me.

As the boys waited for us to lead, they noticed nature is full of their very favorite things...sticks.  Now anyone who knows boys realizes sticks are no fun unless they are whipped around with abandon and used to perfect ninja moves on each other.  As such, it took about one nanosecond before the first stick-related injury occurred.  Such was the case which prompted the implementation of the largely unpopular "no stick" rule.

Without any sticks to fling around, what's a boy to do?  That's when suddenly everyone desperately needed to use the bathroom.  In the life of a little boys, can anything be better than peeing out in the woods?  So says this troop.  They enjoyed another five minutes finding trees and bushes to "fertilize."  Boys!

After the sticks and "restroom" breaks, we decided that the only way to make it through the treasure hunt was by finding another group that actually knew what they were doing.  Within minutes we found a knowledgeable group and so we tagged along behind them like a bunch of lost puppies.

After we discovered the last clue, the boys rushed to the parking lot finishing line and eagerly awaited their "treasure."  I could see the little wheels in their heads spinning.  What could the prize be...candy, cash, gold?  The anticipation was killing everyone.  They reached into the prize bin and pulled out....granola bars.  The disappointment was palpable.  Before one single boy had the opportunity to whine "oh man" I chirped, "Let's all say thank you boys."

From their throats came the most pitiful chorus of thank yous.

I heard one boys whisper, "If I had died out there..."

I didn't listen to the rest of his sentence.  I imagined how I would answer it....

"If I had died out there, I think I would have earned a special spot  in heaven solely devoted to the mothers willing to escort a Boy Scout troop out on a nature hunt."


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