I stayed up late last night and crawled in to bed, much too late. It was cool and in the fifties and windy; I could hear the wind whipping through the trees and the sound soothed me as I tried to get warm snuggling inside my sleeping bag. I attempted to read before I fell asleep, but I couldn’t. I was just too tired. That’s what it is like here. I am just like the scouts – working hard at having fun, but it doesn’t seem like work at all and it is very tiring.
My alarm sounded at six and I reset it a couple of times before I actually got out of my sleeping bag. The scouts were up and stirring around the campsite anxious for the day to begin. Yesterday’s haze was replaced a clear crisp cool morning and the lake was like glass. My tent, like all of the adult leaders, is along a bluff overlooking the lake and I can gaze at the lake through my tent window. We rode our bikes to the main camp for flag ceremony, then breakfast, and our scoutmaster meeting. Then we – John, Kevin, and I – drove into town to the grocery to shop for fixins for the evening dinner. Except for Tuesday night, all of our meals are served in the dining hall. It is what makes the experience here at Tesomas so nice, we can focus on learning and fun without having to worry about cooking dinner, or breakfast, or lunch.
The scouts had decided on chicken chili for Tuesday night dinner and we needed beans, tomatoes, cheese, cornbread mix, sour cream, seasoning, and peppers. The camp provides us with chicken and onions and that’s it, the rest of it is up to us. I enjoy a challenge and cooking is fun. Last year’s dinner was quite good and I remember it well. We got what we needed and we arrived just in time for lunch.
When I got back to camp after lunch I was tired and lay down to take a nap. The early afternoon sun gave my tent just enough sun to keep it warm, but not hot and I slept well. I set the alarm and woke up about 3:30, in time for open activities. William is taking the Small Boat Sailing merit badge class near camp and class ended at 3:30, by then he was already in the water practicing and getting his laps in for Friday’s mile swim. I changed into my swimsuit and walked down to the lakefront. I arrived as he was getting out of the lake. I was on my own as he took off to join his friends during free time. I can’t blame him – he gets enough of me at home. I got my laps in, but the hardest part of the entire practice was just getting in the water. Swimming in a lake is entirely different from swimming laps in a pool.
It was time to get started on dinner and the scouts slowly began returning to camp. We had just enough to get started. For the chili, we needed to chop onions and peppers. I worked with the younger scouts showing them the proper technique and helped as needed; fortunately, the chicken was already chopped. Once the chopping was finished, it was time to put it all together and mix the recipe in the Dutch ovens. We added the chicken, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, and beans and it was quickly evident that we had too much in the Dutch oven and we needed to add one, then two Dutch ovens to accommodate our ingredients. We had it all mixed and on the coals cooking. I am always amazed that it cooks. I helped the scouts mix the cornbread and we added it to the top of the Dutch ovens. I was concerned the cornbread wouldn’t cook, but when we uncapped the ovens it was done, perfectly. Dinner was great and we had too much food, which is better than having too little. The scouts, adults, and our guests – two camp counselors – one of whom was Davis who’s from our troop, enjoyed the dinner around the campfire. I had a helping and enjoyed it very much, so much I had another.
While all of the cooking was going on, William and his friends were fishing down the shoreline. I heard William walking excitedly back to camp asking for the camera. He had caught a large-mouth bass and was carrying it in a bucket. He was determined to clean it and have it for dinner. Several of the scouts were fascinated by the fish and watched as William, with Brandon’s help, fileted the fish and got it ready for the fire. William had remembered the foil packet method and found some spices in the patrol box. It was quickly on the fire cooking. The great thing about foil packets is that it keeps all the juices in without having to flip or turn, just keep it on the coals. When it was done, William got his mess kit and enjoyed his bass. He looked very satisfied.
The trouble with cooking is cleaning up and it is my least favorite part of the process. Scoutmaster John and ASM Don worked with the kids and got them cleaning up the gear and cleaning the Dutch oven to ready them to be stored in the trailer and for use on our next outing. The kids pitched in and helped. It always takes longer to cleanup.
The sun slid below the horizon and darkness fell over camp. A few of the scouts sat around the campfire telling stories and swapping memories while a few trickled back to camp after camp activities ended and the night wound to a close. It was a day full of memories, learning, and growing up – all while we were watching. It was truly a great day. Tomorrow is Wednesday and the forecast is a million and six times better. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.