Two new boys joined us for their first Boy Scout camping trip at Camp Watchamagumee over the weekend of May 6-8, 2011. They had a great time on the outing but we did have an interesting and unexpected experience Friday night.
The four boys attending the outing had joined us at the adult’s campsite to sit around the campfire. Eymard, my assistant scoutmaster, had made popcorn. One of the boys had brought marshmallows. The boys wanted me to tell them a story but I kept changing the subject, pushing it off a little longer, letting it get good and dark.
Suddenly, we heard distant barking. I thought it was the dogs of a nearby home but the barking was coming from the wrong direction. When it turned to howling we realized it was coyotes, a pack of them from the sound of it. The mood around the campfire changed instantly. I could the younger boys become a bit anxious so we discussed the nature of coyotes and that those animals usually avoided human contact. They really did not need to be worried.
I waited several minutes before I began the story of the Purple Gorilla. The story begins with a salesman traveling on night through a terrible thunderstorm and finally ends up spending the night at a farmhouse far away from any cities. During the story, the salesman must go through ten doors to find a suspense filled discovery. I was having fun building up the scenario but I was also keeping an eye on the new boys. As I described the opening of the third door we all heard movement in the woods near the boy’s campsite. It sounded like something large.
Interest in the story evaporated as everyone’s thoughts turned to the coyotes we had heard earlier. The young boys were very nervous. I was a little nervous also, I have to admit. All four boys huddled close to me as we grabbed our flashlights and walked to their campsite to discover what had caused the noise. We walked around the site, shining our flashlights in all directions, but seeing nothing. The younger boys wanted me to check out the inside of their tent to be sure nothing had crawled into it. We found nothing in the tent or around the campsite. We heard nothing more. I told the boys it was probably a deer that was passing nearby.
The boys were relieved that we did not find anything, but decided that it was time to go to turn in for the night. The new boys asked me to stay near their tent as they prepared to go to bed. Then I checked on the other boys and walked back to my own campsite.
The story of the Purple Gorilla was all but forgotten. I will have to finish the story at a future outing. As I distinguished the fire I thought that it was a good thing I had not told the story of the Wolfen. If I had, the two new boys probably would not have gone back to their tents.
(By the way, the picture shown was not from this outing but from a weekend in the 1980’s. I do not remember what story they were listening to when I took the picture.)
100 Days Of Scouting: Day 96.