At 8 years old you are at an age where you have to learn the hard way. I don’t mean that you have to get bruised, but that some experiences can only be taught by actually trying them.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about joining the boy scouts.
Most 8-year-old boys start playing football or join the boy scouts. I persuaded my parents to let me join the local scout group called the Wolf Cubs (not a tough name I know) since I was shite at football and I loved the forest … Indiana Jones, here I come!
As a boy scout, you learn many valuable skills, skills you recognize when watching Bear Grylls or Ray Mears battling with the elements on the Discovery Channel. Instead of focusing on how great the boy scouts are, I’ll share some of my less glamorous moments in the uniform.
As a young lad, I joined the boy scouts mainly to be able to carry a knife and caver in the forest. Also, so I could sleep in a tent in a field or forest. Before going on these adventures, my dad always told me to be mindful of my surroundings before doing either number 1 or 2. He said, there are two ground rules when doing the toilet business Bear Grylls style:
- Don’t pooh in or around nettles
- Don’t pee on an electrical fence
Surely, that was never going to happen to me anyway. My father had no idea was he was talking about (I thought) and I was 8 years old. He was like an old fart/relic already and he had never survived in the wilderness before anyway.
What would he know about my survival skills?
The electrical fence test
One afternoon, while out with the scouts, I desperately had to pee. I ran across the field to find a quiet spot, away from the camp, well hidden by branches and shrubs. Slowly, I reached for El Shrimpo (my manhood) and released the muscle controlling the bladder.
The pee initially sprayed the grass at the tip of my shoes. So, I pressed a bit more on the bladder, showing utmost body control. Slowly, the pee arched over the nearby shrubs.
Suddenly, a stinging pain ripped through my El Shrimpo. A pain I had never felt before snapped at me for only a few seconds. It felt as if something (a snake) had bitten me in the most private area. I grabbed El Shrimpo with both hands and fell onto my knees. The pee was still coming out, so my hands were soon covered in pee.
I looked around in fear, thinking I would see the tail of a deadly cobra, but nothing. I must have screamed or yelped since most of my survivor mates came to my rescue and to see what had happened.
Friendly as 8-10-year-old boys are, the boy nearest to me started to laugh frantically and pointed to my wet pants, fingers, and boots. Within seconds, one of the boys said coldly “that’s what you get for pissing at an electrical fence” and pointed to a hidden fence post behind the shrub I had gracefully sprayed on.
The female scout leader attempted to help me up, but I wasn’t going to let her see my manhood. So, I quickly zipped up and legged it back to the fireplace to dry my pants. My hands smelled of pee for several hours until one of the girls gave me some soap.
The natural flower power killers
Most boy scout activities take place during the summer and during the weekends, so no school night is disrupted.
The camp I joined (the only one in my neighborhood) had a huge campsite just a few miles from my house. This meant that most weekends were spent becoming one with Nature.
On one of the expeditions I joined, we learned about the local floras and other plants, primarily so we could survive on plants in the event of some apocalyptic disaster.
I’m sure that if such an event occurred, most plant and animal life would have been destroyed. But I felt the love of the trees and I was slowly becoming a tree-hugger.
Dressed in my Indiana Jones explorer shorts, Ecco foot-shaped shoes and a white T-shirt, I joined the troop into the wilderness. It wasn’t long until we saw the first pine trees, some acorns, ferns, forest onion plants (excellent in forest onion soup) and some elderflower bushes. All these wonders were studied while eating freshly plucked berries.
Suddenly I saw a rare flower, just a few feet off to the side of the animal trail we were following, that I decided to explore. It crept forward and knelt slightly, probably trying not to scare the wildlife around me. I became one with the undergrowth of the forest, only to suddenly stumble on a giant root.
I lost my footing and I started to fall, only to realize that I was about to fall on top of a deadly bush of forest nettles. I adjusted my body to avoid falling into these evil plants. I managed to sidestep the nettles, only to step into another mini forest of nettles. My legs were being attacked by thousands of nettle leaves, “burning” my boyish sensitive skin.
I don’t even think Ray Mears would have survived this.
What happened next is just a blur. Somehow I managed to step on the only slippery stone within a mile’s radius and I fell arms first into the tall nettle forest.
The nettles wrapped themselves around me as if trying to swallow me whole. I screamed like a pig that was being chased by a panther deep in the Amazon jungle, desperately trying to get out.
I felt something pulling my feet and discovered that it was the female scout leader (who looked like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider) who was saving me. The pain instantly vanished as she washed my arms with water while smiling at me. Deep inside, I was in so much pain. I felt like running away, but somehow I got up and picked the rare flower and I gave it to my savior.
Handfull of dung
During one of the many visits to the campsite, we made an excursion to the local farmer’s field to explore the natural inhabitants; cows.
These gigantic creatures are some of the food markets’ most gracious and kind animals. They produce the most fantastic milk, cheese, and steaks.
Most of the time, these gentle giants of the grass fields are friendly and don’t care about us intruders. But for some unknown reason, I’m somewhat nervous around cows. They are HUGE and they have horns.
If you’ve ever been face-to-face with a cow, then you know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, as we were walking on the field, their territory, a lonely bull on the neighboring field started to moo. It was probably telling all the girl cows to trample the intruders. True enough, the cows started to trot towards the small group of scouts.
The female scout leader (Tomb Raider), calmly gathered the group and started to cross a stream – cows hate water she said. In a failed attempt to jump the stream, I slipped and landed on my back. I slowly opened my eyes and I saw that I was nose to nose with one of the “friendly” cows. This was not Barnyard, so these animals can’t walk or talk, but the look she gave me was not “I love you”.
I quickly rolled to the left, then right to confuse the animal – something I learned from another scout session – and stood up. Fast as lightning, I legged it across the field, followed by a herd of cows, approx. 2 cows (might have been three).
The gate was getting closer. Suddenly my right foot hit a hard lump of dirt and I crash dived into the soft soil. Funnily enough, the landing was soft. My left hand felt tingly and warm. I looked over, fearing it would be broken or cut.
What I saw was a true horror!
The hand was wrist-deep in a freshly laid cow pooh! At least my arm wasn’t broken. I got up, supporting my body with my knees, only to discover that both knees were stuck in a pile of s*** too. These, however, were cold. I got up and made it out.
Phew! Without looking back and waiting for my troop I kept running until I arrived home, where my mum hosed the pooh off me. I was smelling of the cow for days afterward, much to the amusement of my friends.
So, what did I learn from my scout experience? You gotta join the scouts to say you’ve lived fully… My kids are going to be forced to join the tree-hugger fan club and learn about nature sooner than later.
“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau