Keeping an Eye Out

View through the loophole in the south tower, Fort Lockwood.

Squatting in the tower at Fort Lockwood, I was pleased to see that we had clear fields of fire to the south. We knew if the threat was going to come from anywhere that it would not be the sheer cliffs to our backs as much as the broad valley to our front.

Or so we thought.

The firing of rifles came from the hillside to our right rear. Arrows flew behind us. The thunk of flying tomahawks landing in something solid and organic came from our left. And all the while, the blacksmith kept at work next to the gates, pounding copper into…bowls.

At last came the greatest threat of all. One of my scouts popped his head up the ladder of the tower, and, breaking my frontier daydream, asked, “hey Mr. Wolf: got any more of those Sqwincher electrolyte packets?”

Returning down the ladder, the sound of the blacksmith and the tomahawks grow louder, but the sound of .22 rifles and flying arrows faded. I didn’t mind. It was another day at Summer Camp, but it was so much more.

It’s Good to be a Swimmer

IMG 2159

As you read this, I am undergoing my BSA Swim Test, designed to determine whether I will be allowed to swim, frolic, tread water, or float in water over my head.

The chit above, given to me two years ago during my Troop’s last sojourn at summer camp, is a matter of distinct pride. Everyone at camp gets a chit. A blank chit is the mark of a “non-swimmer.” You’ll be allowed to get your feet wet, maybe, and only with a buddy. A chit with the top half filled in red is a “beginner,” allowing one to wade into the water up to about their chest. A chit with both the red and blue filled out marks a “swimmer,” basically allowing you in the pool without restriction.

I have taken and passed the BSA swim test twice during my adult life. The first time was in 2018, when I weighed about 325 lbs. It was easier than I had expected, and I realize now that I can attribute that ease to approximately 110 lbs. of buoyant fatty tissue that behaved as a natural full-body life jacket.

The second time I passed I weighed 216 lbs, it it was brutal. Aside from the fact that it was a mountain-spring-fed pool at an altitude of 5,400 feet above sea level, my body-integrated buoyancy was gone, and so was my insulation. And as difficult as it was to haul my body 200 yards through chilled water, the full-minute float was an unaccustomed effort. Between the cold, the altitude, and the extra exertion just to keep myself above water, it was the most exhausting workout I had experienced in a year of hard physical training.

Needless to say, I was pretty chuffed about passing that time, especially given that the last 50 yards I was carrying on a conversation with the waterfront director who was testing me. G-d bless Carlos – he is a force of nature.

For now, once more into the pool, dear friends…

One advantage of staffing Wood Badge…

…was not having to prep and cook our own meals. These tacos were the least exotic examples of a week of incredible camp food that included savory pies in puff pastry, Philly Cheesesteaks, a final barbecue feast that would have impressed any Texan, and desserts that belonged in a patisserie rather than a camp kitchen. Teresa D. not only pulled this off, but she also offered versions of each meal that were vegetarian, vegan, and Kosher. It was one of the most demanding weeks of my life outside of work, but Teresa helped make it all better.

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