I think some of you may know that I’m Scoutmaster to a troop of girls participating in Boy Scouts. I am, however, a rather reluctant Scoutmaster as I have very few outdoor skills and truly don’t like to camp.
So, what am I doing this weekend? Going backpacking. For me, this is a very unfortunate turn of events.
I tolerate car camping only because I can bring a ton of stuff with me, like my own pillow, my giant stadium chair, my insulated coffee mug, and lots of snacks, specifically those pink and white frosted animal cookies.
Let me be clear about this next statement: I HATE backpacking.
I have gone backpacking once before. My son had just joined his Boy Scout troop and a few of us new moms went along on the backpacking trip, which I believe was over Mother’s Day for some unknown reason. To this day, I refer to the trip as “The Death March to the Snakes.”
We hiked Mt. Wittenburg. I neglected to realize that the “Mt.” before “Wittenburg” meant “mountain”, as in, all uphill. I was miserable. I could barely keep up with the troop. It might have occurred to me to not throw “Gone With the Wind” in my pack, but, well, it didn’t.
If you’ve ever hiked Wittenburg, you’ll know that there’s no view from the top. Actually, the only way you know you’re at the top is if you happen to notice the geological marker thing in the ground. The lack of a view made all that uphill hiking super disappointing.
When we finally got to camp and set up, I crashed inside my tent, cozied up with Gone With the Wind. Then, I heard one of the other moms scream. And I thought, “That’s a snake.” I know a snake scream when I hear one.
Yep, there were snakes. IN CAMP. I am terrified of snakes. When I finally came out of my tent, I ran to the nearest picnic table, sat on top of it and wouldn’t come off. Snakes can’t climb up picnic tables, right?
Eventually, we had to make dinner, which meant boiling water for our dehydrated backpacking food. I had borrowed a backpacking stove from a friend but was a little fuzzy on its use.
I managed to light the picnic table on fire. Apparently, I didn’t need quite that much fuel.
O.k., o.k., in my defense, it wasn’t a big fire. The Scoutmaster ran over and put it out. (I won’t lie, in the back of my mind, there might have been some master plan to get banned from the next backpacking trip.)
Finally, I managed to boil water. The next morning, the nice Senior Patrol Leader (kid in charge) came over and sweetly asked if I’d like him to make breakfast for me. “That would be fantastic,” I said.
So, here I am, faced with going backpacking again in nine hours. Why?? (I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.)
Because I made a commitment to my group of girls. I desperately tried to find another mom to go instead of me. When the girls go anywhere, Boy Scout rules say they have to have a registered (with the troop) adult female along. Everyone had some reason they couldn’t go. So what was I going to do? Tell my girls they can’t go just because their reluctant, wimpy Scoutmaster doesn’t backpack?
When I agreed to be Scoutmaster, I made it clear that I do not backpack and do not camp in the snow. (The troop does an annual snow camping trip.) But . . . here I am, going backpacking.
I should clarify how my girl troop “works”. We’re a separate troop on paper, as required by the Boy Scouts. But, we’ve “partnered” with a troop of boys and basically run a co-ed troop. So, the girls do everything the boys do. There are several requirements that must be done on a backpacking trip so its not like we can just opt out of backpacking.
My distress grew at troop meeting on Wednesday night when I learned that this is “real” backpacking. As in, no toilets. Not even a pit toilet! What?? We were advised “bring your own toilet paper!”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
This led to my googling yesterday, “How to pee in the woods if you’re a girl.” In my opinion, no one should ever have to google that. But, apparently a lot of people do because there were several articles on the subject. Thanks to REI, Self Magazine and a few blogs, I now know that if I can see my shoelaces, I’ve achieved a perfect squat. And, that its helpful to find a tree to hold onto.
Armed with that knowledge, I’d better get back to packing. I’ve already determined that I should leave my string of cute little miniature Coleman lantern lights at home. Normally, I put them on my tent so I can find it in the dark. And, this time, I’ll find a smaller book to bring.
Wish me luck and no snakes!