Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Memories - Lest I Forget

Here are a few scout camp memories I'd like to remember:


One morning two young men came back to camp after swimming in the lake. They were very excited because they'd caught a crawdad. They asked Calvin if he would cook it for them.

He put one of the pots on to boil and they threw the one-clawed crawdad in. (He lost his other claw in the struggle.) And then, Calvin taught them the right way to eat a crawdad . . .

. . . with a half pound of butter. They loved it.


We had lots of offers to help us cook. There were usually a couple of boys and a couple of men that visited, chopped, stirred, or flipped with us.

One boy in particular came to help often. He is 17 and maybe weighs 110 pounds. He was so pleasant, happy, and willing to do whatever we asked him to do. (One time I sent him around to the other camps peddling salad. We had about 30 bags too many, so he spent an hour and a half pulling a cooler in the wagon trying to give it away. When he came back to camp he was pulling 8 watermelons.  He was so proud of his trade.)

One day, in the middle of the day, this boy was stirring a pot. It was hot and dusty all week so stirring over a hot burner only made it worse. Nevertheless there he stood standing over the burner stirring and stirring.  He never complained or suddenly remembered he had something else to do.  One of the boy's fellow troop members brought him a drink of punch in a cup.  As the boy started to drink he realized it had been filled with salt.  Thirty feet away four or five boys who were behind the prank began to laugh as he choked on the salt drink.  Their laughing got louder and turned to mocking. The boy kept stirring. Calvin went over to the boy, took the cup from him, and drank the whole thing.  The group of boys went silent.  Calvin patted the boy on the back and told him to keep stirring.

A few minutes later one of the boys involved in the prank said, “Sister Payne, Brother Payne is the coolest man ever.” I said, “I know. I told you he was.”

A little later in the day as we were preparing another meal, two of the boys who had poured the salt in the drink came over to watch me stir a pot.  We were visiting about nothing in particular.  After a bit I said, “Why in the world did you do that?” 

The two boys shrugged their shoulders and ducked their heads.  I turned to one and said, “Have you ever been the butt of a joke?” knowing full well he had.

He silently nodded. 

I looked at the other boy, “How about you?” knowing he was joke fodder as well.

He said, “Lots of times.”

I said, “Then why, oh why, would you turn around and do that to someone else when you know exactly what it feels like?”

They said, “It started out as an innocent prank.”

I said, “I know it did, but it soon turned into more than that and rather than standing up and being men and fixing it you let it get out of control. It didn’t take (the boy stirring the pot) long to quit laughing when he realized you weren’t laughing with him anymore.” 

The boys genuinely felt bad and agreed they needed to repair some damage.  

But I learned as much as those boys that hot afternoon.  Calvin drinking that cup of salt was a powerful object lesson.


And then, a night or two later while I was quietly washing dishes under the tree, I saw another boy in camp -- new to the area -- go up and apologize to a boy with a handicap. The new boy said, “Sorry I made those jokes at your expense this morning.” 

The other boy responded, “No problem bro,” and patted him on the back.

The new boy tried to explain himself, but the other boy said, “Really. No worries. Don’t think about it. It's all okay.”

Nothing more was said and they quietly parted ways.  It was one of those times, like when a dog licks and cleans his wounds, where life quietly heals and corrects itself and I was lucky enough to see it.


Another time I was riding a bus back to camp from the shower house when a young scout that was sitting in a seat across from me asked if I’d had a good shower. I told him I had, but that it was cold. He said without saying any “r’s”, “Well you just ought be glad you got a showew.” 

I laughed and said, “You are absolutely right. I am glad I got a shower.”

He continued to talk to me all the way back to camp about all kinds of things.  He was so darn funny. As we got off the bus to walk back to our camps, we saw boys carrying little bags of popcorn.  I asked my new friend if he wanted to go with me to find the popcorn and he said that he did.    As we walked along I said, “You have the most pleasant personality.” 

 He smiled and we continued to walk. Then he looked at me sideways and said, “What’s a personality?” 

I said, “Well, it’s who you are, what you laugh at, how you see things in life. You have a great personality.” 

He said, “Nobody’s ever told me that before."  Then he paused and said, "Not even my family has told me I have one of those."  

I said, “Well, they should, because you have a great one.” 

He said, “The boys in my camp don’t much like me. But Brother X does.  He is my friend. I just met him this week, but he's real nice to me.”  Brother X was a young leader (18 or so) that had quietly followed us and I imagine was his chaperone. 

After we got our popcorn my new friend and I split to go to our own camps, but not before he told me to come find him anytime. I don't know who I appreciated more -- that fun little boy or Brother X who looked out for him.  


Jenny Fortner said...

I have followed your blog for about a year, but this is the first time you moved me to tears! Bless you and the amazing lesson you just shared! I hope that each of these young men will never forget the small lesson your husband taught with a small act! Thank you so much for making my day!

camery said...

Oh my.

Thank you for sharing these moments from scout camp. You just made my whole morning. I'd like to think I'd have thought to drink the salt water, but I'd probably have wanted to throw pinecones. Maybe someday I'll get there. :) You two are good people.

Deidra said...

First I laughed at the huge pot and that little crawdad. Cooking him up in grand fashion.

Then I teared up at the thought of good people acting the way our Savior would want them to act. Thank goodness for those people. You and Calvin very much among them.

Watson Family said...

I've been silently following your blog for years and had to de-lurk to tell you how much this post touched my heart. All of your posts inspire me in one way or another, but the tender experiences you shared in this post simply blew me away. I hope you know how much your words, and actions, mean to stranger friends like me. Sending lots love and appreciation you way!

melanie said...

I truly love your ability to write, tell a story, teach a lesson, move people to comment, etc. I also love your great personality and the fact that you share it with me. Great post, wonderful message.

Jill said...

Oh these stories hurt my heart! I'm sure there are countless moments like these, but I'm so glad you and Calvin were there to make these moments more profound.

Barb said...

That story about Calvin and the salt water is something else. What a man.

michelle said...

Oh, I do love this post. I want to be like you and Calvin when I grow up!