Second Summer Camp
* * * MONDAY Night * * *
Now that Jeff Alexander had the attention of all the adults, he repeated the conversation he had with the other leader earlier that day.
Mike Little sighed. "Why do we seem to have to repeatedly deal with that clown. I'll go talk with John Denson after breakfast. He needs to know what is happening. Who are you supposed to be with?"
"The guy didn't actually say, but if this is revenge for last year, I would guess Tom," Jeff said.
"Jeff, I didn't know..." Tom said batting his eyes at Jeff.
"Oh. Shut it, Richards. You definitely aren't my type. Plumbing is completely wrong."
"Jeez," Tom whined just like Neal. "I'm hurt."
"You will be, if you don't shut up," Jeff threatened with a grin.
Leo put a hand over Tom's mouth to stop any retort. Tom, of course, licked it. "Stop that or I'll use my boot." Tom stopped.
Later Tom and Jeff walked Frank and Leo back to the Medical Lodge. After good nights, Frank went on to his cabin by the horses.
Jeff began, "Okay, just so I know where things stand. Tom, I have assumed you were gay after some of the conversations we have had since last summer. I would guess Leo is your partner."
Leo grinned, "You got it on the first try."
"Good. Do the boys know?" Jeff asked.
Tom answered, "Our sons do, of course, and probably a good number of the Phoenix boys do, too. We haven't made an announcement or anything, but we don't hide it at home, and they lived with us back in January."
"Last fall I discussed this with the session, in generic terms, of course, and all agreed that there wasn't an issue with the church. So I don't see any real problems, as long as we keep quiet, and you don't go running around waving a rainbow flag in everyone's face." Jeff said.
"Darn," Tom mumbled.
Leo elbowed Tom as he thought about the situation and said, "I think the boys' solution from last year when Monty was questioned, is also the best approach now. If someone asks; laugh and tell them they don't know you two. We can honestly say that there is not any kind of gay relationship between you two, too."
By the time Jeff and Tom returned to camp, and the fire had been put out. They said their 'Good Nights' and went to their tents, and sleep didn't take long for either of them.
* * * TUESDAY * * *
"REVEILLE! REVEILLE! REVEILLE! LET'S SEE SOME MOVEMENT! COME ON YOU'RE WASTING DAYLIGHT!" Andy seemed to enjoy this a bit too much. No, actually he was enjoying it way too much, after all he had three sites to rudely rouse. He made sure the waiters were off on time and the troop was on time for the flag raising ceremony. Announcements were read and troops dismissed to the mess hall.
Breakfast was served family style, with French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage links, milk and orange juice. Seconds of French Toast and sausage links kept the waiters busy. As usual there was a good supply of single boxed cereals for any who didn't care for the main meal. When the boys were dismissed, the adults refilled their coffee mugs before leaving.
Mr. Little was waiting at the office when Mr. Denson returned. "Hi, Mike. I was expecting you or Jeff this morning."
"So the rumor has gotten to you." Mike replied.
John Denson sighed. "Oh yeah, a certain Scoutmaster called and complained to National in Texas. They asked Tommy Collins to investigate. He called early this morning and asked me to check into it. By the way, off the record, this is total male bovine manure."
Mike smiled, "It's laughable, actually. I've Known Jeff Alexander for years and his wife, too. There is no way he's gay, and with Tom Richards? No, we think this is sour grapes about how we handled him after last year's summer camp. Sorry, I didn't find out about this until late last night. If you need any other information, let us know."
"Just one thing. Just in case this gets nasty and out of hand, how will your Charter Organization react to this?" John asked.
"Well, after the to-do about Monty last year, our Session had some lengthy discussions and we decided that promiscuity was the issue. So as long as everything is kept low key it would be fine. I also know that Jeff went to a meeting I missed so he may know more." Mike explained.
"Great, Mike. Glad you could make it this year."
Mike smiled. "I'll be here both weeks. This troop is really a joy to work with. Tom kind of scared me when he showed up with so many boys last January, but they are so wonderful to work with. They had so little and they respond to any small bit of attention and concern. Tom seems to have a real second sense when it comes to working with these kids."
"They sure seem to respond to him. That is probably part of the problem. He's still enough kid to really connect to them, and Br. Micheal isn't." John shook Mike's hand and went into his office to call HQ and tell Mr. Collins what he had learned so far.
While Mike was with Mr. Denson, Tom and Eddie went to the Trading Post to see what kind of trouble they could find there. As were most summer camp Trading Posts, this one was also filled with goodies to separate boys from their money. Tom did notice that any item costing more than $10.00 required an adult leader's approval. Good thinking! Tom was in seventh heaven surrounded by all this boy stuff. He had a pile of things on the counter, leather work kits, wood carving projects, leather punches, T-shirts, a book on knots, a star chart, woodcarving chisels, a nice pocket knife for carving and a whetstone.
Eddie enjoyed watching Tom have so much fun.
The clerk said to Tom, "You buying stuff for your whole troop?"
"Nope this is all for me. They can buy their own toys." Tom replied.
Eddie laughed as Tom's loot was rung up and bagged.
* * *
On their way to the first Merit Badge, Neal and his old friend John were talking. John said, "This is the kewlest summer camp. It's got more stuff and badges than the one I went to last year."
Neal replied, "I can't really compare since this is the only one I've been to. I just know the Baden Powell program really was fun and got most of us almost done with our ranks to First Class. As a matter of fact, I'll be ready for my Star Scoutmaster conference if I get Emergency Preparedness this week."
"Way kewl! I thought you had just made First Class like me. I hope you get it." John said.
"Daddy Doc is pretty tough but he just makes sure you know what you are supposed to." Neal explained. "The thing we need to work on now is our skit for Friday Night's Campfire. There were some last year that were pretty funny. I would love it if we could do something new that everyone hasn't seen before."
John grinned, "I may have just the thing. Our leaders did it at a camp-out last fall..."
The two boys continued on to their Merit Badge class discussing the details for their skit.
* * *
At lunch a young staff member stood on the table in front so everyone could see him and raised the Scout sign. When it was quiet, he yelled, "MAIL CALL! Billy Lucus, Troop 278." The boy ran up and got his letter. "Jason Baxter, Troop 571." After that letter was claimed the staff member looked at the last letter; he actually blushed. "Ah, I need the Scoutmaster of Troop 316." Mr. Little walked up not knowing what to expect. He was handed the letter, and he broke up laughing. He whispered in the staff member's ear, "His little sister is learning to write cursive. She crossed the T. His name is Tucker."
The staff member jumped off the table and left, giggling. Mr. Little walked over and handed the letter to Tucker Peterson. "You probably don't want the other guys to see this." As he walked away he heard Tucker whine, "Jeeeeez."
The boys split as they left the Dining Hall. Some went to the Trading Post and others back to the campsite. The first stop in each campsite was the bulletin board to check out the inspection. All three sites received 100. The boys were working on the improvements for tomorrow. Tom and Jeff told those in Site 2 that they had the improvement for tomorrow taken care of. They had a stick driven into the ground in a sunny spot and already had several tent pegs with tags put in the ground. The first said Breakfast, then MB1, MB2, MB3, Lunch. They explained, it was simple, the sticks shadow was a clock and told you where you needed to be.
When it was time to go to the afternoon classes, there were some serious looking clouds, and Andy made sure everyone had their rain gear and the flaps on the tents were tied closed. There was a brief shower on the way to their first afternoon merit badge, but then things cleared off again.
Tom and Eddie made a trip around the merit badge areas and finished at the Baden-Powell area. Most of the groups were learning how to properly pack a pack. They were going on an over-night hike tomorrow. One group was at the fire ring learning to build and light a fire. Another group was in the kitchen area, learning how to light different types of stoves. They waved to their guys and left before they were too much of a distraction.
As they were walking back toward the Dining Hall, a small group of boys passed them.
"You guys hear about the two queer leaders?"
"That's what I heard. Their whole troop is probably queer. Ew!"
"Just gossip. You shouldn't be repeating it."
"Figures you'd say that. You a faggot, too?"
"Look, I've met some of the guys in that troop. They're good guys. And they are taking up three sites, so there are a lot of them and I bet they won't like hearing people talking about them like that." This boy turned and walked away from the others and almost walked into Eddie. "Oh, sorry, sir."
"No problem. You were right on all counts. Those rumors are just that, and not true, either. I hope there are more that think like you do." Eddie said.
"Yeah, me, too. Those guys seem to always be getting into some kind of trouble. I've got to go." He hurried away.
* * *
Tom and Eddie then went down to the Medical Lodge to see Leo's new clinic on wheels. Since he had his First aid class practicing bandages and splints, he was glad to give them the tour. "I don't know where 'Philip' got this thing, but the second exam room can convert easily for an OR. When he goes first class he really goes first class. I'll have to thank him when we get home."
'You're quite welcome, Doctor.' 'Philip's' familiar voice responded from somewhere.
"Jeez," all three adults replied in unison.
Tom noticed a patch on Leo's bulletin board. It was the summer camp patch but in all red. The word STAFF was on the bottom. He couldn't let Leo get a patch he didn't get. It was the principle of the thing.
Walking back to the camp, Tom spotted the flag pole and remembered one of the color guard slipping on the dew laden grass this morning and had an idea. He led Eddie to the office. Jo and John were relaxing with their feet up. When they entered, John asked, "What can I do for you gentlemen?"
Tom had helped the boys and Samuel plan several service projects for the camp. One of them was a set of steps for the flag pole mound. "I noticed that the color guard has to climb that steep mound. I bet it is bad if it rained."
Jo commented, "Impossible, is closer."
"What would it be worth to have a really nice set of steps there?" Tom asked innocently.
"It would earn you the blue service patch," John said.
"Nice cinder-block steps with a nice pressure treated 2X4 railing... Would that get a few red staff badges?" Tom asked.
"One condition," Jo said. "No one sees you with them here at camp. Each staff member only gets two. One to keep and one to trade. That is the difficult patch to get to complete the full set."
Eddie was fascinated, "What's the full set?"
John took out a board he had behind his desk. "In the center is the full color patch that all campers get at the end of the week. Red is the staff patch. Blue is the service patch. White, which glows in the dark, is the OA service patch, Green is the adult leader patch. So the whole set is five."
"I wonder if Neal was elected?" Tom said.
"Now, Tiger, you can't mug your own son for a patch," Eddie replied.
"Rats. How about you do it?" Everyone laughed.
Jo returned to the topic at hand, "Four red patches and a blue for everyone who works an hour on the project."
Tom grinned, "Deal." He shook left hands with Jo.
John asked, "I'll see about getting you some blocks."
Tom grinned. "Not necessary, we already got 'em."
Jo frowned. "I think I was bamboozled."
Eddie nodded. "Yep, by one of the best."
A soft 'Harrumph' was heard from the computer in the corner of the office.
"Second best. Uncle 'Philip' is the best," Tom corrected.
"I'll have the boys get busy after dinner. New steps coming up." Tom waved as he and Eddie left the office. Tom stopped at his Van and used his satellite phone to call Samuel. He told him which project they were doing and when they would need the supplies.
* * *
That afternoon after lunch Aaron approached Mr, Little. "Mr. Little, you know we are doing a bunch of stuff in the Baden-Powell Program."
Mike smiled at the boy and nodded. He had been working hard to get his first rank. Mike thought he knew what Aaron wanted but it was a learning experience for the boys to have to talk to adults and ask for what they wanted. It was all a part of Scouting, making boys into men.
"Well, ah, I've looked at all the stuff and, well, I'll have everything done, well almost." Aaron said in one breath.
Mike took pity, sort of, and said, "Almost everything?"
"Ah, yeah, I'll just need a Scoutmaster conference and a Board of Review." Aaron explained.
Some of Tom's evil sense of humor must have rubbed off on Mike. "That's great."
Aaron looked back kind of lost for a second then realized his mistake. "Will it somehow be possible to have a Scoutmaster Conference and a Board of Review? I will have everything completed for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. I really want to get as much as I can. Could we maybe get them done this weekend?"
"I don't see any problem. We have enough adults here. I'll Check with the SPL and other adults and let you know." Mr. Little was very proud of this Scout. With all the problems this kid had to deal with he had taken to Scouting in a big way.
When he was alone Mr. Little took a look at the requirements in his Scout Handbook. The troop had been working on the requirements that wouldn't be covered in the Baden Powell program. Judge Thompson had come and talked about the importance of doing your duty as a citizen to cover what was often the hardest requirement of the first three ranks. Upon consideration most of the new boys would be ready for advancement this weekend. As Mr. Little stretched out in his hammock he was organizing things in his head.
* * *
At the flag lowering ceremony before dinner Drew Chain announced four sites had received 100 points in today's inspection. He called for the SPL from Troop 234 and Troop 316 to come forward. He handed the SPL from Troop 234 one red feather and Andy three red feathers. "Each campsite can have a Coup Stick where they can display their inspection feathers and any other awards they might earn." Troop 234 and then 316 were dismissed and led the way into the Mess Hall.
After dinner, Andy had the boys of 316 formed into a line from Samuel's truck to the flag pole. It didn't take long for them to pass all the needed materials and tools for the flag stairs. Mr. Denson stood and watched in awe as the troop all worked together. Andy directed the activity with Samuel at his side telling him exactly what had to be done. Andy was making mental notes on how to direct an activity like this so he could use those skills on his Eagle project in the fall.
With nearly sixty boys and eleven adults it didn't take a lot of time to complete the project. Mr. Denson took pictures and a short movie on his cell phone and emailed them to Tommy Colins, the council's executive.
They were finished and back in camp with plenty of time for the Baden Powell boys to pack for the over night camp they would do tomorrow. They were experienced campers for the most part, so there were no problems. The senior boys made the rounds to make sure no one had any problems.
There were no complaints when Andy walked the three campsites announcing Taps in five minutes.
After the boys crashed for the night, the adults gathered to discuss the day. "Day two and we still have everyone. Good job." Mr. Little was all smiles.
Eddie said, "Br. Michael has managed to get the youth talking about our adult gay couple. At least some Scouts are calling shenanigans and trying to set them right."
That was when their four visitors arrived. Jo had an envelope that she gave to Tom, "I'm on to you now Richards."
Tom grinned back and gave his best innocent look. Eddie shook his head, "So that's where Neal learned it."
"Nope, I learned it from him," Tom replied.
Mr. Little couldn't resist, "Yeah, but it works for him." Everyone laughed.
A voice from the darkness was heard clearly, "Jeez, can you guys keep it down or do I have to come out there!"
All the adults laughed even harder at Neal's whining.
When they settled down and everyone had a seat Mr. Denson said, "Have you done a project like that before? It was amazing to watch. Your SPL did a bang-up job and that stairway will be there for a very long time."
Mr Little just smiled and said, "Our first Troop Rule is 'This is a youth run organization.' The boys have been discussing several projects that they could do and what supplies they would need. The supplies were purchased with money they raised and they worked with a few adults to get the skills they would need and what they would need adults to do. Andy has a copy of 'Guide To Safe Scouting,' that he has actually read and so knows things like adults need to be the ones to use power tools."
"That is really impressive. The more I'm around you the more impressed I am." John Denson then stood and reached into his pocket and passed out green Scoutmaster camp patches. All of you deserve these, the blue patches will be in your check out materials.
"John and Jo we were just discussing our problem. Br. Micheal has got the youth going on about this, too. We are planning to handle this like we did the thing with Monty last year. I just hope he lets things drop."
Jo looked lost by the comment so John explained. "The boy, Monty, was accused of being gay. The boys decided to just laugh and tell anyone that they sure didn't know Monty. Killed the gossip in a day."
Jo chuckled. "The boys came up with that?"
The adults all nodded. Tom said, "I wanted to sick my lawyer on him but this was better. He left the camp, and a boy, to go home early."
Jo looked at John, "I told you we had some trouble with that troop last year."
Jo reacted saying, "He sounds completely homophobic. He needs to try something else like racist. No that won't work on your troop."
Leo said in a stage whisper to Frank, "Sure am glad we are out of the line of fire."
"I feel like getting my Claymore and bagpipes."
Jeff laughed, "Yup, a good Presbyterian."
Tom quipped, "But 'Presbyterians are nice1'"
Frank said seriously adding his brogue, "I am nice, until someone tries to blow smoke up me kilt."
When the laughter stopped, Mr. Little asked, "We have a bunch of boys who will be ready for Scoutmaster conferences and a board of review this weekend. I would really like to be able to do them if we can get the adults to handle the Boards. I think we could keep two Boards busy and maybe three."
Jeff asked, "How many are we talking about?"
"I would estimate 20 Baden Powell and another 5 to ten older boys with their new Merit Badges." Mike replied. "If we work on it there are the new Webelos who might earn a rank or two."
"So the Baden Powell guys will need three Boards?" Jeff asked.
Jo added, "If I remember the advancement guidelines correctly, the requirements for the ranks can be done in any order for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class but the ranks must be earned in order. Technically the Scoutmaster Conference and BoR are requirements. The rank is considered earned at the completion of the BoR so as long as the questions in the BoR are divided by rank I see no reason we couldn't combine the Boards. Having the guys go through three would be cruel."
John Denson said, "I'll ask Mr. Collins tomorrow to double check. By the way, I'm for this, too." (Yes, Arli, I put in the comma!)
"Sounds like a plan. I'll get a schedule done and we'll do this." Mike was grinning as his troop once again impressed him.
* * * WEDNESDAY * * *
"REVEILLE! REVEILLE! REVEILLE! Off your cots and on your socks! Let's see some action 316!" Andy really enjoyed this way too much.
Eddie got out of his tent and muttered something about that being a much cleaner version of what he used to yell at Boot Camp.
Jeff soon had coffee perking for the adults. Having Mr. Little's gallon coffee pot was a big help. Wednesdays were the cooks day off so any coffee to be had was made in the campsites. All the adults were also thankful for their morning elixir of life.
At the morning assembly, the color guard really appreciated the stairs when the flag was raised before breakfast. Mr. Denson officially thanked Troop 316 for job well done and three blue service feathers for their coup sticks.
Br. Micheal had turned several shades of red at the announcement. "Wait just a minute!" he shouted with his arms around his waist. "They don't get credit for something that was built professionally. I saw that Haven Construction Company truck come in here last night. That faggot Richards paid to have that built!"
A deadly silence fell over the assembled Scouts. Mr Little pushed Tom back for Eddie and the other adults to restrain. He purposely stepped forward and turned to face Br. Micheal. "I believe I speak for the other Troop Leaders and camp staff when I ask that you please calm down and refrain from the use of hate speech in the presence of the youth." Mr. Little kept his voice calm but loud enough that all present could clearly hear every word. "I myself went to purchase the supplies with money raised by the boys. They planned these steps months ago and they built them. Haven Construction Company, owned and operated by the father of one of our boys, not Mr. Richards, has been kind enough to store and deliver those supplies."
"Do not say it. I'm sure you won't like the consequences. You will be very lucky if Mr. Richards doesn't sue you for slander."
"Truth is the perfect defense!" Br. Micheal ranted with his hands on his hips.
"Truth!?" Mr. Little began laughing and was soon joined by Troop 316 and then the rest of the camp. John Denson watched in awe as 'the plan' worked perfectly. He also noted that Mr. Little confined his reply to the stairs. Nice work.
Breakfast was cereal and milk. When breakfast was finished, and before any were dismissed, Mr. Denson stood at the front of the Mess Hall. "Today you will be fixing your meals in camp. Ice for coolers and food will be available behind the Mess Hall for the next hour. Please collect the supplies for you troop while we are there. Don't worry, the cook staff will be back tomorrow." Everyone cheered.
When 'Philip' had equipped the mobile clinic he included two large folding four wheel wagons. They were seven feet long and three feet wide, big enough to carry an injured Scout or adult back to camp over most of the terrain around the camp. They were also excellent for carrying food and ice back to the camp. Andy sent four of the senior boys with Doc Leo to the Medical Lodge to retrieve the wagons. They made short work of then loading the wagons with their food and ice for the coolers. At site 2 another group was waiting with all the coolers and helped pack the food and ice.
All the boys then disappeared (Yes TSL, predictably) to their first merit badge class or to the Baden Powell program carrying their overnight packs. The adults enjoyed the peace and quiet and another cup of coffee.
Sheriff Henry said, "Mike that was beautiful this morning. Everyone now knows Br. Micheal's' claims are a joke. I just hope that is the last we have to deal with from him."
Tom shook his head, "I wish. No, sadly, jerks like him never shut up. As long as he thinks it gets him power he will keep it up and besides he seems to be on a personal vendetta against Jeff and me from last year."
Jeff commented, "He is sure not a very good model for his troop. No wonder there are so many bullies in that troop."
"Makes you wonder what it would take to get them straightened out." Mike wondered aloud.
Sheriff Henry added, "That whole Church needs to be straightened out. They always seem to think they are so special. They almost act like a cult sometimes. I feel sorry for some of those kids."
When the conversation wound down, Sheriff Henry and Eddie Richards then volunteered to take the wagons and headed back to the Medical Lodge. As they exited the trail, they noticed what looked like a body lying at the opening to another trail. Eddie and Eric ran toward the form.
1Copyright: The Frantics, "Heaven Is For Presbyterians."
Cliff hanger? What cliff hanger? Would I write a cliff hanger?
Midwest Editor's Notes:
Darn right you would. I'd say Br. Michael is not going to give up on his intention to cause trouble for Tom and anyone he can possibly accuse of doing something wrong. I wonder who's lying there at the trail head.
Nice chapter, Str8Mayb. Hope it won't be three more years before there's another chapter. Just sayin'.
Darryl The Radio Rancher