Fathers and Sons at Smilin’ V Scout Ranch
As a young father I always looked forward to taking my sons to the annual Father and Son Outing; a one night campout for fathers and their boys. They were a chance for me to spend quality time with my boys and for them to have fun in the outdoors. Friday and Saturday was the outing for the Shoal Creek Ward. This year I’m not with my two sons but Eileen said “there are lots of African boys who either don’t have fathers in their home, or their fathers work nights and they couldn’t be part of this event. Why don’t you take them?” So with Eileen’s encouragement I teamed up with Ward Mission Leader, Dave Morse and we took 7 boys to Smilin’ V Scout Ranch, about 30 miles away.
We had Daniel, Ricky, Chris, Zaire, Kiki, and newly baptized Joseph and Daniel. We took the food for dinner---basic outing food: hot dogs, Eileen’s potato salad, and stuff to make S’mores around the fire after dark. Dave picked up Joseph and Daniel because they live near him. I picked up the other 5 because they are all small and could fit in our small Honda. We hooked up at a location convenient for both of us and took off for the camp. About 30 minutes later we arrived.
The camp itself is rather unimpressive. There are no defined activity areas, it’s not well manicured, no fire ring or the usual features you expect to see in a Scout Camp. There was just a big pavilion with wood picnic tables and some grassy areas where we would eventually pitch our tents. But atmosphere had no effect on the boys because none of them had ever been camping before and they were sky high with excitement.
I’d envisioned that we would arrive at the camp, find a nice camp site, set up our camp and then let the boys go exploring while Dave and I got the hot dogs ready. But the vision faded rapidly as these mostly 8 to 10 year olds piled out of the car to begin their big adventure. In 2 seconds they were off exploring.
Under an oak tree they discovered 2 old paddle boats and the next thing I heard was the sound of one of the boats being dragged across gravel. I looked up to see 6 boys straining to pull this paddle boat across the road. I asked, “What are you going to do with the boat?” “We’re going to put it in the water.” Noticing there was no water in the direction they were going I asked, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to find out where the water is before you move the boat?” “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea!” they agreed as they looked around. In a flash they were off looking for the water and found the pond in the opposite direction from what they had pulling toward. Just a moment later they had the boat in the water and 5 of them were trying to figure out how to steer it and make it go without falling in the water. Let the fun begin!
The boys paddled the boat around the small island in the middle of the pond, taking turns with the steering and pedaling. A few minutes later Kiki appeared at the edge of the pond.
|Boys & Water go naturally together!|
|Zaire, Daniel, Ricky & Chris in their tent|
The excitement among the boys was through the roof. When it was time to set up our tents they all pitched in and moved their tents to where they wanted to be. Then we went to the car and the boys got the blankets they had brought since none had a sleeping bag. The beauty of Texas is that it’s warm enough all night that you really don’t need much for warmth. They laid out their beds but it would be a long time before the boys would be ready for sleep. They devoured the hot dogs and most of the Eileen’s potato salad. Then we gathered around the campfire for S’mores and for the boys just did their natural boy thing---playing in the fire.
It was after 10:30 by the time we made our way from the fire to the tents, but once in the tents it would be a more than 3 hours before the boys could be calmed down and they drifted off to sleep, not to arise until about 9 the next morning. They were spending their first night ever in a tent and loving it.
Saturday morning they straggled from the tent after their late night. They loaded up breakfast tacos with bacon, eggs and salsa and wolfed them down before heading immediately to the boats and a little more swimming before we had to break down the tents, load up the car, police the camp for trash and head for home with the boys as excited at the end as they were at the beginning and wanting to know when they could do it again!
|Daniel and Kiki in the paddle boat|