Cooking on a Boy Scout camping trip can be an interesting experience, especially with young inexperienced campers. I have seen many burned pancakes, half raw hamburgers, and overturned pots during my days as a scoutmaster. When I am eating something crunchy that really should not be crunchy I am reminded of a camping trip from my days as a youth…
My troop was attending a district camporee one weekend when I was in my early teens. We were sitting around the campfire ring about to eat our meal. Our scoutmaster, Dr. Scanlan, was sitting next to me. There was a small amount of dirt on my food. I do not remember how it got there, if the patrol cook had done something during preparing the meal, or if I had kicked some dirt onto the plate somehow. I do remember I was not interested in eating this food with its “natural” seasoning. I was a very picky eater and this was not helping the situation.
I made a fuss and commented that I was not going to eat this stuff. My scoutmaster heard me and replied that a little dirt would not kill me. Then he added something that I will never forget. He said, “A person will eat an average of seven pounds of dirt during his lifetime.”
I am not ashamed to say that I was surprised and shocked by the statement. I did not know if he was telling the truth, or if he had just made it up. He was a doctor, after all. He would know about these things. I do recall my reply to him. I looked at him, and at my food, and said, “I don’t want to add to that seven pounds.”
I do not remember if I ate the food that day or not. I probably did because I was hungry. I have since come to the conclusion though that if you are a scoutmaster you will eat a lot more than seven pounds of dirt in your lifetime.