Stories and thoughts about family and life

10 year old boys and campfires

on September 23, 2013

Luke (I’m really working hard to break myself from calling him “Lucas”) is now 12, and will be 13 in January.  He has been in Boy Scouts since he was 11, so the Cub Scout traditional camp outs have been more and more a thing of the past.  For the uninitiated (as I was), Boy Scouts are boy-led.  It’s supposed to be that they do all the work and the parents are really just there to ensure they don’t kill themselves.  That’s the theory, anyway.  Our boys have invested a lot of time in learning the finer points of this technique and some times it works out better than others.  Anyway, Brennan is currently 10.  This is his last year in Cub Scouts.   Cub Scouts still have a lot more parental involvement, although this year is supposed to be a transition into their next scouting adventure.  As I put it to another parent over the weekend, this is sort of like senior year for their crew, and there are only four of them, so the parents have committed themselves to making it as fun and special as possible.  Oh, and, we’re using this as a good learning opportunity for Lucas–excuse me–Luke to function as their den chief and grow accustomed to holding a leadership position.  Throw in Type A mom and you’re in for some laughs this year, I’ll promise you that.

This past weekend we went to Lake Ouachita (pronounced Washita, for my out-of-area friends).  We had a beautiful campsite on a small peninsula in a quiet area of the lake, and it was everything a lake trip should be:  quiet, relaxing, peaceful, beautiful.  I’m sure that’s what all the other people thought when we came in with our five boys, anyway.  We had three 10 year olds, Luke (age 12) and a younger sibling of one of the 10 year olds (he is 5).

If you’ve never tried to organize a bunch of 10 year old boys, let me paint a picture for you.   These boys had all been in the same car together for the past 90 minutes.  They were told they couldn’t play any of their electronics (which is our custom on these types of getaway trips), and they were anxious to be out of the car.  Add in a lake with some beautiful flat stones just begging to be skipped, and work to do to set up the camp.  Now, imagine yourself speaking a completely foreign language–let’s say Latin or Greek–and watch the magic begin.  It’s not that they’re acting badly, necessarily.  It’s just that all these other things call to a 10 year old imagination much more than stopping and pitching a tent or helping get lunch prepared.

We finally were able to eat and put everything away, and then took the boys to mine gemstones as a gemology project.    You would have thought they were mining for gold the way they took to the whole process.    As we hauled our loot back to camp and took stock of the new treasures we had amassed, the boys helped prepare dinner and then escaped to the lakeside again to play in the water and skip stones.    Dark was just falling as we took our dinners off the campfire and had dinner.  It was wonderful to listen to the boys giggle and share stories, and talk of adult things as if they had been doing this same thing every weekend for 20 years.  As we parents disseminated the last of the dinner and get ready to settle in and eat ourselves, we laughed hearing the boys talk of wanting to see “Les Miserables” (imagine this with your best imitation French accent), and with an exaggerated “s” on “Les.”  They spoke with such sincerity and such impressive importance on the subject, you would have thought they really had just studied it in school.  Within a moment or two, that topic had passed and we were back to Minecraft and add-on tools which should exist in this video game or that one.  Following that was the sharing of the discovery of Hershey bars, graham crackers and marshmallows in the camp box.  S’mores!  They were proudly exclaiming.

I was the mom who had that moment of brilliance, I’m proud (or maybe not so much so) to say.  Brennan spotted the marshmallows while we were shopping for camping groceries Friday afternoon.  These marshmallows were literally called “campfire” and were at least two inches tall, about an inch and a half across.   Not eating marshmallows myself, I wasn’t really prepared for what I had created.  One kid mentioned that he liked his marshmallows very well done, so then, of course, all the kids had to try that.  Thank goodness we had enough of those to go around.   We shared s’mores and hot cocoa for the next 45 minutes or so, and discussed with the boys all the things they had done during the day.

Winding them down to try to go to sleep, I guess the s’mores weren’t such a great idea in hindsight.  But, still, the entertainment of the boys and their chatter about this or that, and watching them all mimic things they saw one another (or an adult) do, reminds me that this is exactly how they learn–whether we want them to or not.    I hope we guide them well, and I can’t wait to hear about my kids taking their own kids on trips like this, as I know it amuses my father-in-law to hear Louis talk about doing this all with his children.

Brennan was so thrilled with his gem haul that he escorted an obliging park ranger over to the truck to see them all.  The park ranger told the boys of the possibility of hearing screech owls or the tiger who lives at the camp across the lake, and how we might hear any of these throughout the night.  The boys, all wide-eyed and amazed, looked as though they couldn’t wait for the possibility.  That is, of course, until a grand-daddy long-legs crawled anywhere in anyone’s vicinity, and reminded us that our kids aren’t country kids.  They talk of all these things they’re going to do and how brave they all are, and then remind us again that they are still our little boys.  I’ll take that while I can.  They’re growing up way too fast as it is.


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