Camp junkies

Shade, Mayan and I survived another camp out with the Indian Guides at Roper Island, a patch of woods on the outskirts of Lakeland, kindly donated by the Roper family for group camping. It’s got that backwoods feel to it–no electricity or running water–while being within two miles of a convenience store for necessary food and beverage replenishment. We returned in the same clothes we left in Friday, with ten pounds each of dirt ground into them, and our hair, toes, fingernails, teeth and intestinal tracts. Yes, we eat a lot of dirt during the weekend. It’s all part of the adventure.

Luke of the Mohawk tribe brought out the Polaris again so I could get Shade around. It came in rather handy for team Capture the Flag as it can plow down small trees and bushes and the occasional slow deer. (Just kidding, PETA nuts. No animal was harmed during the camping except for the pigs and cows that sacrificed themselves for our bacon and steaks.) The Capture the Flag game involved about 60-80 dads and kids running around aimlessly in the deep woods and not really knowing what the rules of the game were. Shade, our friend Santiago and I zoomed around in the cart, handing out drinks and trying to locate the flag ourselves, but I think the flags were buried or hidden high in the pine trees because even with the advantage of a gas-powered vehicle, we couldn’t find a single flag. I liked that Shade felt involved with the game. Without the Polaris, he would have sat in the campsite while all the other kids ran around.

The rig also came in handy during the group Airsoft battle, which was a bit like Black Hawk Down but with plastic BBs and no helicopters. Don’t worry, moms. Everyone wears eye and head protection and long sleeves. Shade sat in the passenger side of the Polaris with his sniper rifle and shot our buddy Martin in the belly a few times. (He provides a decent size target and has belly bruises to prove it.) Then Martin and another dad Bill decided to hold a tree while all the kids took pot shots at them. We had eight kids in the Polaris while I did drive-bys and the kids shot machine guns at them. Pretty much every tween’s fantasy.

Shade also got in touch with his pyro-side. We’ve been collecting all sorts of garbage in his “burn bag” for the last couple months. His obsession with incinerating stuff now runs to napkins, toilet rolls, any cardboard trash, and of course, his crappy stickers that he gets from therapy, e.g. Dora the Explorer, My Little Pony, Winnie the Pooh. The crappier the better. Aitza even bought him his own four pack of toilet paper to burn at the camp out. All burning was supervised by me, an even bigger pyro. And I got to really flex my pyro-muscles by helping Tony Pike, aka Fire Walker, build the tonka, which is the giant bonfire that we have on Saturday nights. We used about 14 pallets which we stacked in an eight-foot A-frame and then stuffed with pine needles. That night, the flames of the tonka  shot straight up at least 40 feet, a wizardly column of flame that would have made Voldemort proud.

Shade also had a breakthrough bathroom moment at the camp. Each campsite had its own Port-o-potty. There is nothing pleasant about these stink capsules. Even if you get a virgin one, fresh from the factory, and you are the first user, you still face the evils of the blue splash. (Imagine dropping a potato from 4 feet up into a bucket of blue dye and you’ll get the picture.) Plus, there are no sanitary seat covers at your disposal, so you are faced with the choice of rear contact or the girly hover, which adds another half foot of acceleration to the splash back. Because Shade has his balance problems, he basically sits every time he uses the facilities, no matter the “number” of the business. But at the camp, he said he wanted to try to stand to “water the tree trunks.” He has not stood to use the bathroom since before the accident, usually because the balance issue forces me to help, and it’s really hard to attain the relaxation level necessary to let go with a six-foot dude gripping you from behind by the armpits. (If you’ve been in prison, you may know what I’m talking about.) So though this step may not seem like a big progression, I think it’s as important as Shade relearning to sit cross legged or remembering what he did yesterday or eating by himself. And for us camp junkies, there is nothing more exhilarating than peeing in the woods. It’s that special bond with nature that you just can’t get in town, or if you do get it in town, you are likely arrested. (And then you may experience the prison scenario above).

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