Trigger warning: Sex gets mentioned in this post. OK, now I have your attention!
I was a Thirteen-year-old Boy Scout from an urban Troop in the wilds of New York City’s Washington Heights, and I was sent away for a month at Boy Scout Camp. So what do you think we talked about around the campfire at night? The following day’s hike? The rotten food served in the cafeteria? Or perhaps the ghosts said to haunt the nearby lakeshore? Nothing so inspiring; remember, this is a bunch of thirteen-year-old males. So instead, we spent our time talking about women. Or the little we knew about them at that stage.
Ratso, known for the extreme overbite that gave him a rodent-like profile, came to the campfire one night with a hot fresh rumor. He’d heard from some friends that the councilors and some of the Scout Masters regularly slipped away to one of the neighboring towns for some extracurricular activities at a house of ill repute. Said house was located behind a local tourist trap that every scout was interested in visiting because of the selection of exciting souvenirs offered. But now, the location was doubly attractive because of the added lure of sex.
Remember that while we were inner-city kids, we were all virgins. But virgins eager to lose that status. After this, our campfires were lurid with imagined tales of what our exploits would be if only we could get there. Our imaginations operated over time, night after night, as we painted in supposed pleasures. Please remember that this was a very long time before the internet, and we mostly had only our imaginations to paint in the details.
I have to admit that I showed leadership ability one night by pulling out the map, compass, and dividers. After that, it was short work to plot the hike and figure out the rationale for getting credit towards our Hiking Merit Badge and visiting the Promised Land. The next day we were on our way.
The hike was an easy ten-mile loop over wooded terrain with only a few bushwhacks to cross from trail to trail. We approached our target before noon. We figured that we had enough time for “quickies,” whatever those would be, shop in the store and return to camp in newly found adult male statuses.
As luck would have it, on our arrival, we met some of those councilors and Scoutmasters who took a dim view of our hiking activities and turned us around towards camp. On our arrival, having shown leadership potential, I was taken aside and assured that I would never get a Hiking Merit Badge. Sending me home from camp early was also debated. No one suspected the primary purpose of our visit. It was thought we were just going shopping, and of course, we were.
So we were restricted to camp and put on kitchen cleaning duties for the remainder of our stay at camp. Campfires were more somber now and ghost stories just didn’t cut it anymore.
So There you are, the entire sordid little story. And if you are still out there somewhere, Chief Scoutmaster McClanan, we know where you were on Friday afternoons – Shame on you!
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