“One day in spring he was crossing the ice near the shore when his brand-new rifle dropped off his sled into water. He went home for some rope, and, with his brother, returned to the site and stripped to his shorts. While the brother held one end of the rope, Simon wrapped the other around his waist, grabbed a large stone, and down he went some twenty feet.”
I used to go on polar bear swims at camp. This meant waking up before dawn to jump in a frigid pond while camp workers screamed and threw bundles of Swedish fish at our heads. Sometimes they made us bark like seals, even though most of us sounded relatively sad and hoarse. I was the only scout who never managed to catch any treats, but I did convince myself that, at the time, peeing in my bathing shorts was a shrewd act of survival.
NatGeo [ from “Gotland: Sweden’s Treasure Island”]:
“Margit, a tall, motherly woman, at once engulfed us in Gotland hospitality. First, she offered us black currant juice from her own bushes, then coffee with pastries, including gorån, crisp wafers full of eggs and butter, pressed and baked in an iron form of intricate design.”
Eating breakfast at scout camp required all troops to be present outside the mess hall before being let in. One morning a troop was running late, and I was hungry and even more desperate. At the time I remembered that chewing certain leaves suppressed your appetite, so I picked the most beautiful green leaf in my proximity and slipped a piece of it under my tongue. It had a dirty, sour taste, but the last troop had finally arrived and we were shepherded inside shortly after. By the time I sat down to eat my cereal, bits of the leaf were still in my teeth and I was nauseous: Some point between scooping a dollop of Cheerios and still tasting the rancid, weatherworn leaf I vomited onto my spoon. It was a subtle, infant amount, so I put it back into my mouth to avoid a scene.
NatGeo [ from “Friend of the Wind”]
“Every time I splashed ashore on Tern Island and ventured among the nests, the home guard apparently thought I was about to establish a beachhead, and, with harsh cries, would swoop down on me, pecking repeatedly with sharp bills.”
During parent’s day at summer camp, my father advised me to stop whittling at dusk. This was the year that I received my Tote N’ Chip and neared the completion of the woodcarving merit badge. As night approached, my father reminded me again to stop scoring that pine block of wood, but I ignored him. I cut my finger, badly, and bled all over my clothes and pine block. Everyone around me reacted calmly and brought me to the camp medic. She dressed my wound and by that time it was evening. My parent left, and, that night, I had one of my nightmares. This one caused me to topple from my bunk, pulling my bedroll with me in the process. I ended up falling out of my tent completely and was unable to grip my mattress with my hurt finger. Despite loud whispers, my tent buddy wouldn’t wake up to help, so I spent the rest of my night under the stars.
NatGeo[from “Algeria: Learning to Live With Independence”]
“Carrying my new robe, I followed the quiet road up from the market toward the hillside village of El Eubbad. Along the way I passed many white-domed tombs, the kind that dot the landscape throughout Moslem Africa. Each marks the resting-place of a marabout, a mystic or savant who, it is believed, possessed miraculous powers.”
While camping in Tobyhanna I spent a whole day trying to climb an uprooted tree.