Very quiet around the Rancho these days, with Mr. B. at his week-long camp at Lost Pines, the pine forest near Bastrop, about an hour east of Austin. Weather service says it’s a bit cooler out there than here, especially at night with the breeze off the lake.
This is Boy Scouts, so much of their time is spent in classes (yep) on merit badges and Eagle Quest and advancement generally. Mr. B. excepts to finish his Tenderfoot board of review there and come home on Saturday with many of his Second Class requirements also finished.
But it’s also just fun, with pool time and canoeing and fishing. And, uh, demos of “tomahawk throwing,” according to the scoutmaster’s latest email to parents, which assures us that homesickness among the youngest first-timers (like Mr. B.) is a minor issue so far.
“To put your mind at ease,” the scoutmaster wrote, “none have wanted to call home, and no one had any intentions of going home, just expressed themselves [about it], which is very good.”
They’re also playing Gaga, an Israeli version of dodge-ball, which seems to have migrated to the Scouts from the day camp at Austin’s Jewish Community Center which Mr. B. has attended every summer since kindergarten. “They come back sweaty and FILTHY every time they play.” Mr. B., an old hand at Gaga, probably is enjoying showing off his expertise.
UPDATE: Oops. Spoke too soon. Mr. B. sent today a scanned front-and-back letter via the scoutmaster telling of his homesickness and (twice) requesting us to come to the Friday night barbeque to which parents are invited. So we’re going.
I should have written this already. Like back at the first of the month. When Mr. B. officially walked out of his fifth grade classroom, took about ten steps and was out the north-side door of the school and the door closed behind him on its pneumatic valve. Sigh. Thunk.
Forever. He says he won’t miss it. I already do, a little. All those afternoons in the heat or cold or rain waiting with other parents (mostly mothers) for the let-out and the pick-up. Holding my hand on the walk to the car. Ancient history now.
Next stop Middle School, just down the street. Yee-ahhh. And puberty. Oh joy. (Or no joy.) Time will tell. He will play the clarinet in band. At least in sixth grade. Boy scouts will continue, and monthly camping trips, at least until he’s a First Class. More evening and weekend youth basketball? Probably.
Other than that? Girlfriends? Sex? Time to begin some serious prayer.
Mr. B. left a short while ago with two chums and one of their fathers for an overnight camping trip with the Boy Scouts on a private ranch near Bastrop, their final Cub Scout Webelos II requirement.
S’posed to be in the 40s out there tonight with a good chance of showers. Mrs. C., of course, sent him with twice as much as he needs, but maybe she’s right. A few more years of these once-a-month Scout adventures and he’ll know what to do on his own.
This is the made-in-China, two-person tent Mr. B. and I used on his Cub Scout camping trip last month. Quite a change from my Boy Scout days in the 50s when we only had WWII-surplus pup tents assembled from shelter halves. They almost always leaked. Lots cheaper now, too. The surroundings are the campsite at Inks Lake State Park, one of the Highland Lakes in the hills west of Austin.
Mr. B. and I leave tomorrow, after his youth basketball game at noon, for his Cub Scout Pack’s overnight camping at Inks Lake State Park. Weather looks good, so far, seventies daytime and fifties at night, just cool enough to make sleeping easy. I should have plenty of time to photograph this spring’s glorious crop of wildflowers. One more year of cubs and he will be a Boy Scout, when parents are discouraged from attending such trips. The older scouts manage themselves and the younger ones.
UPDATE: Back Sunday afternoon: I’m sore as can be, mainly from getting in and out of the little 7X7 dome tent. But sleeping was good, thanks to the air mattress and the temperature. Just cool enough. Mr. B. contrived to get his shoes wet in the first few hours, but Mrs. C. fortunately had sent along a pair of crocks. So he got by.
Did not photograph a single bluebonnet, but the wide fields of them were incredible on 71 from Oak Hill to 281 north and again through Marble Falls to Burnet, also on 29 west from Burnet to Park Road 4 and the park road crop was glorious, a few feet high marching right up to the edge of the road. Coming back on 29 east to Austin I meant to stop for pictures, but it started raining, which discouraged me.
An intriguing new "culture war" book by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Aggie and an Eagle Scout, on the value of the Scouts, who are under political and legal assualt for denying leadership roles to gay men and women. I’m not so sure I agree with the denial, but, as an old Scout myself, who learned a lot and had a lot of fun, I’ve been pleased to see Mr. B. take to it–and I agree that its civilizing value for boys is unquestionable.
I got the wish on the phone from Mr. B. who was preparing for a bath, after a hard day of picnicing, volleyball and chasing fireflies at his mother’s family reunion. Of course I had my day a week early, so I’ve had plenty of time to check out this pdf of the 1913 book "Training the Boy." (The author, William Arch McKeever, wrote "Training The Girl," in 1919) He encourages Boy Scout membership, and we’ve begun that with Cub Scouts. One piece of advice I can’t follow, however, is the recommendation that, if at all possible, you must be sure to get him a pony. Sorry, I’m not into horses. How about a sloop?