I’m back from the campout. The beautiful numbering job I did on the tents didn’t stick. When we woke up Saturday morning, the temperature was 27°F with a nice thick coating of frost on everything. And most of the numbers had simply flaked right off, completely intact. Huh. Wasn’t expecting that.

Saturday afternoon I took the kids on a hike. We were going to try for five miles, but the morning program went about an hour longer than I was expecting, and the kids were taking their own sweet time cooking their lunch, eating it (especially eating it), and washing up. I had intended to get off site at about 1:00, but we didn’t leave until 2:45. No way we could get five miles in with a start like that.

Instead we did what I always do when I’m hiking with time constraints. I figure out when I want to get back to the trailhead, and hike until we’re halfway to that time. Then we turn around. That system works pretty well, but I suppose it ought to be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a second or less. The trick is to remember to check the time when you set out and do the math. And then stick to the plan. Here’s a scene from our hike:

Smart's Brook Hike

Smart's Brook Hike

When we got back from the hike I had a bit of trouble from one of the kids. I don’t think I’ve written about this before, because I don’t like to share a kid’s problems, but I have a feeling this is going to absorb a lot of my time in the future. I won’t go into his problems except to say that when he becomes unhappy about something, he deals with it by fleeing the scene. This is very dangerous behavior on a campout or a hike.

I am very happy I recognized this tendency during our first meeting of the year and had the foresight to formulate a plan. I met with him and his mother and went over it. Unfortunately, I had to activate that plan yesterday, but fortunately, we all knew the consequences ahead of time (a 30-day suspension).

We were camped about 30 minutes from his house, so I had him pack up and I took him home. I hope this will be a learning experience for him.

I got back just in time for the evening program. This is always a lot of fun as the kids from the various clubs put on something of a talent show. Our group was the first up. David and another kid had written a skit on our way home from Oshkosh last month.

The gist of the skit was that a bank robber (the other kid) came to rob the bank where David was the teller. The teller informs the robber that he cannot complete any transactions without a bank identification card. So the robber fills out an application. That part contained my favorite gag:

Teller: “Social Security number?”
Robber: “Man, I can never remember that.” (digs out wallet). “Here it is. 123-45-6789”

No one ever accused a bank robber of being smart! In the end, the teller assesses half a dozen (successively higher) fees, including one for performing a transaction on a day ending with ‘y’. Here they are:

Bank Robbing the Robber

Bank Robbing the Robber

Afterwards, I went to a director’s meeting and Paul shared lots and lots of info with us about upcoming events. His planning skills are very impressive (and very much appreciated). During that meeting, someone burst into the tent (actually, an “instant garage” canopy) and told us that a drunk, shirtless man had burst through the woods into one of our clubs’ campsites. He asked “Where’s the store?” and was directed that way. Then he disappeared into the woods again. That was a bit… alarming? Police were called, and all the adults in our organization were on alert. As it turned out, he had been camping on the other side of the creek (same campground), got drunk, and assaulted his own mother. She called the cops. He fled into the woods, removed his shirt, jumped into the creek, and swam across to our area. He was apprehended after a couple of hours.

David’s observation was something like, “Drunk guy, no shirt, hiding in the woods in New Hampshire on a cold September night with a 100% chance of rain in the forecast. Not very smart from a survival skills perspective.” I heartily agreed. A very large percentage of the wilderness tragedies we hear about in these parts sound remarkable similar (especially where alcohol is involved).

We stayed up pretty late and had a nice fire going when Paul came by and told us the guy had been caught. We all went to bed feeling quite a bit less apprehensive. The forecast was true to its promise too, with the rain commencing at about 3:30. Joyce was up when it started (she was on her way back to her tent from the bathroom). I didn’t notice that it was raining until 6:00am, and that can only mean one thing: I slept soundly from 3:30 to 6:00. And by soundly, I mean I was probably snoring pretty loudly!

I got up at 7:00 knowing that the day’s events were almost certainly cancelled. Paul came by and confirmed that soon enough. So we finished breakfast, struck camp, and headed home.

When we got here I learned that our microwave is broken. A cable in the door snapped, and we cannot retreive Jonathan’s burrito. It’s still in there. Normally, I would attack such a problem with my large arsenal of tools, but microwaves are another kettle of fish. If you mess up the seal, it can easily begin emitting microwaves into the environment, and you can’t really tell that until one of two things happens (or maybe both): people in the family get sick, or (worse!) the wifi quits working.

We’ve had this microwave for something like 22 years. It has been good to us. But maybe it’s time for a new one. So Va and I went and bought one. My suspicion is that no one makes microwave ovens capable of lasting 20 years any more. I put the new one in its place and we tried it out. When it’s running… no wifi! Aaaaagggghhh!

After I got the microwave set up, I donned my rain pants and rain coat and pitched four tents in the yard. I know they won’t dry tonight (still raining!), but as long as they’re set up they won’t mold either. I still need to pitch my little one-man tent though. I’m thinking living room.

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