It was a long time ago, in a camp far, far away....
The year was 1977, which means I was close to turning 13. In those days, Troop 168 went to summer camp at Slippery Falls Scout Ranch near Tishomingo, OK, every year. We arrived at camp in a convoy of cars - most of them station wagons (and many of the station wagons had faux wood trim on the sides).
Let's pinpoint this moment in time further, shall we?
If anyone had a radio with them, it was a battery-powered transistor radio. These are some of the songs we probably heard (they were all chart-toppers in June of 1977):
- I'm Your Boogie Man, by KC and the Sunshine Band
- Sir Duke, by Stevie Wonder
- Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac
- Got To Give It Up, Part 1, by Marvin Gaye
- Gonna Fly Now (theme from Rocky), by Bill Conti
Oh, and that was the summer that Star Wars hit theaters...not "Episode IV: A New Hope." Star Wars.
So, yes, this was a long time ago.
But so much of what we did at that summer camp resembles what the troop will do at summer camp this year. They will sleep in tents. They will earn merit badges, in diverse subjects like Swimming, Reptile Study, Canoeing, First Aid, Horsemanship. They will swim. They will sweat. They will get bug bites. And they will take away memories that will last a lifetime.
There are some differences.
We put up our own tents, because the camp didn't have platform tents in those days. My patrol combined three baker tents into one big tent with a center pole that slept six to eight Scouts. Heavy canvas. No floor. You can see it in the background of the photo above. I remember one night a snake passed through the tent, and we were all grateful we were sleeping on cots.
Probably the biggest difference was that we cooked our own food. No dining hall. We brought our troop patrol boxes, the camp dropped our food at the campsite, and we cooked and ate three meals a day all week long.
At night we would run around with no flashlights, because the moonlight was so bright.
So much fun.
Postscript: That's me in the yellow cap in the picture above. I don't remember why I was standing like a flamingo. My dad took this lunchtime photo in the middle of summer camp 1977. We were the Cobra Patrol. In the back left was Brian Jolly. Drinking milk was David Haunschild. Jeff Culbert was in front in the blue jeans (bell bottoms). Back then, our shorts were short, but our socks were long. And it was considered OK for boys to wear tank tops back then. There were other guys in the patrol who aren't in the picture - which is sad, because I don't remember who they were.