It had been a good day at Many Point Scout Camp, but it was time for a good night’s sleep. My last check of the campsite was complete. The Scouts were all in their tents, crawled into their sleeping bags, laying on their cots. I walked into my canvas A-framed tent and began changing my clothes. I noticed a small field mouse exploring the far corner of the floorless tent, looking for something to eat. “You are looking in the wrong tent,” I thought to myself as I pulled off my socks.
I had just crawled into my sleeping bag when the yelling began in the tent that was next to mine. It was the tent that housed the senior patrol leader (SPL) and his assistant. “There is something in our tent,” the SPL shouted. “Steve, there is something in our tent!”
My first thought was of the little field mouse I had just seen in my tent, so I called back to him, “It’s probably just a field mouse. Don’t worry about it.”
“It’s not a field mouse,” he yelled back. “There is something in our tent.” Then, his voice became louder and higher pitched as he screamed, “My backpack just disappeared!” Okay, so it is not a field mouse, I thought to myself as I crawled out of my sleeping bag, grabbed a flashlight, and put on my shoes. I poked my head out of the tent, shined the flashlight around, and almost immediately spotted a couple beady pair of raccoon eyes reflecting back to me. I was startled to see how big they were. Obviously, they had been eating well this summer. I also saw two young raccoons on the edge of the woods. Isn’t that nice, I thought. The whole family is here.
The raccoons were checking out the SPL’s backpack for any tasty snacks. After scaring them off and returning the pack, the SPL admitted to having food hidden in his pack. He removed the food and returned the pack to his tent. Unfortunately, the damage had been done. The raccoon family now knew of a tent that may have food in it. That family of critters returned every night about 10:30 for the next three nights, hoping to find something to nibble on.
It turned out to be a good lesson for the troop, although it was a hard lesson for the senior patrol leader. It has turned into a good story for around the campfire. To me, it will always be known as “The Night The Backpack Disappeared!”