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07 November 2004 - 00:15

overnighter in Coal Mine Town

Tired and I wanta go to bed. So, just a few shots from this weekend's overnight...

Had what they say was our biggest crowd ever. 106 boys, and probably 30+ leaders. Friday evening is just free time, with most splitting their time between open gym ("open" as in fully unregulated and totally unorganized) or the swimming pool. I am still amazed that these kids (and adults) can play frizbee, basketball and half-court soccer all on the same half court, simultaneously and at perpendicular directions from each other, not to mention the pillow fights using floor scooters as chariots, and still not get anyone hurt, nor raise even a single flare of temper, and still have a great time.

But they did.

Eight o'clock is the normal "cracker barrel" time. Rather than an organized snack requiring some form of preparation or cooking (like wontons), this year the chef simply brought out a huge bowl of leftover Hallowe'en candy. Which immediately created a noisy, squiggling "scrum".

As he explained to his wife, "Eight pounds of candy disappeared in eight seconds flat."

Just what they needed, too, a good dose of sugar just three hours before lights out.

The pool table was still steadily used, but oddly most boys ended up in the pool or the gym. Which is a good thing. Most of the video games were gone from the Rec Center, which is also a good thing. But the town'd replaced their handball court with a huge projected screen Play Station 2. Apparently folks in town use it for golf, but the lads were soon playing "ATV-2". Which I would have to say appears to be a wonderful game, as video games go.

Basically, two players compete on a spilt screen, playing tag with a huge red and white beach ball on their ATVs. No guns, no explosions (although lots of dead racers hitting trees, lumber piles or flying off cliffs). Just chasing each other across the countryside. And surprisingly, few set up camp in that room. Most were in and out, taking breathers from the gym.

Lights Out occurred promptly at 11 o'clock, most of us adults being smart enough to sleep in the aerobics room. The wrestling mats make wonderfull mattresses doubled up, and the acoustics were significantly better. I'm told one frustrated leader finally shut down the sock and pillow fight around 1:30 with the threat than anyone still up or making noise was going to be playing outside.

I got the wonderful, but unappreciated, privilege of turning on the lights and announcing the wake-up call at 06:00.

Breakfast was "breakfast burritos". Flour tortillas stuffed with scrambled egg (Have you ever cracked 99 eggs in one sitting? I have. Now. In the end, we consumed almost 300.), sausage, onion, jalapeno and salsa. Tasted great, but it hit pretty hard around 11 o'clock.

Then the merit badge sessions. Wife and I were kept busy, with as many as 15 boys and parents around our table at any one time. Lots of compliments from fellow staff (but perhaps that's because we've been hinting this is our last year).

Another new addition this year was a small climbing wall.

Which was kept busy. And no, I never got a chance to try it out.

Lunch was homemade chile, with veggies and jalapena cheese for dip.

Yeah, the cook likes his food hot.

But the high point of the day was the pow-wow after lunch. Complete with Indian dancer...

in full regalia. I was surprised when he clattered when he walked, rather than the usual jingle. He tries to keep his apparel as authentic as possible, so his shins were with adorned with deer toe bells, rather than the usual tin bells.

And he was quite proud (rightfully) of the huge bison skull he had been given, inviting me over just to see it. An old, large bull with horns well broomed from age. Made those on the market seem like calves.

Also shared with us the story about one of the redtail feathers adorning his shield. It is his story to tell, but suffice to say, the hawk was in dire straights and neither it, nor the man who tried to save it, survived.

And then we danced the rest of the time away.

I still have trouble getting the rhythm. You're supposed to feel free to dance as you wish, but the wife and I each try to mimic his two-step rhythm, and it is so hard. Feet keep wanting to go in a three-step pattern. Only way I can keep his beat is too essentially forget about the steps and try to lightly hop. The two-step pattern comes naturally then, but boy is it tiring.

Other new change this year was the assigning of clean-up duties, rather than leaving it for the groups last to leave (which usually included us). Was surprised when our leader volunteered us for cleaning the restrooms, but apparently he knew what he was doing. We were done sweeping, vacuuming, mopping and disinfecting while the others were still sweeping the gym.

Having a good crew helped.

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