My introduction to the Boy Scouts left a major dent in my psyche, and the word Sarcodes implanted in my vocabulary. I was 11 years old moving on up from out of the Cub Scouts thinking there were nothing but big boy adventures ahead of me. It was a long car ride up the mountains with my my father, and a few of my other friends. We were on our way to our first week long camping trip in the mountains. We joked, and laughed at idiot things, and spoke in silly voices like the whole entire way. These were my last few hours before the obsessive nightmare began.
My father dropped us off at the meeting point at the lake for all of the troops. We all loaded onto different motorboats to make our way to the campsite across the lake. I can’t remember the context, but this is the first time I’ve heard the term “family jewels”. One of the older boys had made some joke about his family jewels, and I spent the rest of the 10 minute boat ride pondering what he meant. This just goes to show how naive I was as a boy. I’m still quite impressionable to this day. Back then it was the only thing controlling me.
After arriving at the other side the camp counselors went over some rules for the camp ground. One thing they warned us about were the rare snow plants in the area. We were not to touch, or disturb any of them. Destroying one could cost you a 500 dollar fine. What a perfect place to camp. A chunky dirt hill with rare, and expensive snow flowers all over. We hiked up the hill to our camp site. Popping out of the dirt were these god forsaken things that looked like red pine cones. As creepy as they were, they could be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen sprout from the ground. The area felt as if I were on planet earth with a little bit of alien flare.
Being the clumsy kid that I was, I accidentally tripped over one of these gems while trying to set my tent up on the platform provided. I started freaking out, and trying to rig the thing to look like nothing happened to it. Have you ever broken something like a chair, and propped it up thinking the next person to use it will think that they were the culprit? That was my frame of thought here. I finally found a small stick to hold it up in the mean time. There was no way I was going back home with a 500 dollar ticket. Time was up. It was time to make our way down the hill for more campground babble.
My father had given me a small plastic bottle with simple green inside to wash my clothes if needed. I had the bright idea to raise my had, and ask where the washing machines were. Everyone looked at me like I was a fucking dummy, even the camp counselors. I put my head down toward my Indian style crossed legs, and stared at my shoelaces, embarrassed. They continued with their preamble, and decided to add a little bite to their snow flower warning. They informed us the plant was extremely poisonous, and you could die from touching it. Not only did I put my hands all over it, I handled a cookie with my filthy fingers, and eaten it.
My heart dropped to my stomach. I was going to die. There was no convincing me that I was going to be all right. My friends in the 90’s were never very compassionate. This was not an exception. I went to my friend Troy freaked out. “I touched that thing all over, and I touched a cookie, and ate it! Do you think they are serious? Am I going to die in my sleep?” Troy thought this was hilarious. The other boys also snickered at my anxiety. I could no longer focus on the merit badge activities I was so excited for weeks before.