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The Storm That Made Us Men (standard:Creative non-fiction, 1771 words)
Author: CL SchillingAdded: Nov 16 2011Views/Reads: 2918/1711Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A short, non-fiction story about two youth who find out the first night of summer camp to be a little harder than they thought.

by CL Schilling 

“Well have a good week,” my father said while shaking my hand as my
camping gear remained scattered on the ground. 

It was the first time I ever recall shaking my father's hand and I think
on some subconscious level, it marked a moment where I was no longer a 
boy, but starting the process of becoming a man. But at that moment in 
my life, I just wasn't ready for that stage. Because as I saw my father 
walking back to his truck, I did everything I could to not cry. 
Especially in front of the other boys. 

It was July of 1995 and I was 11-years-old and was spending my first
summer at Boy Scout summer camp in the mountains of Farmington, 
Pennsylvania. Along with five other boys, I had just crossed over from 
a Cub Scouts pack that was run by mothers to a Boy Scout troop that was 
run by fathers. Now along with the other five newest Boy Scouts, I went 
from building pinewood derby cars and selling popcorn to going on 100 
mile hikes, long canoe trips, and learning how to start a fire with out 

As a very shy and sensitive child with long hair and large thick
glasses, I was terrified of the thought of spending a week in a foreign 
place without my family. And I was even more terrified of the older, 
mean looking high school boys I had just met who were already beginning 
to surround and harass some of my friends like vultures on fresh 
roadkill during a hot summer day. It still amuses me how the older boys 
were able to reassure the parents of the younger campers they would 
keep an eye on their children. They would always act the part of the 
caring older scout so well and even put on a fake smile as the parents 
returned to their cars feeling confident there son was going to be 
watched over by a mature older boy who had their best interest in mind. 

But as I found myself terrified of the week that was about to start, I
did have my friend Art who I had just met a year before in my fifth 
grade homeroom class at our elementary school. 

While Art and I had a lot in common such as our taste in music, school
activities, and sense of humor, I always enjoyed having Art as a friend 
because he was more talkative and confident than I was at that stage in 
my life. And having a friend who was able to make friends with others 
better than you could meant a lot to an 11-year-old who is just trying 
to fit in with the crowd. 

With our parents now gone and our brand new camping gear still on the
ground, Art and I learned the tent we were going to be assigned 
wouldn't be available until the next day when summer camp officially 
began and the commissary would be open. Art and I had arrived at scout 
camp a day early just as the older boys had arrived following a 100 
mile hike from our hometown which was a tradition in our Boy Scout 
troop. But our scoutmaster at the time, a man named Alf, who was a 
tall, older man with thinning brown hair and dark glasses, offered to 
stay in his son's tent so that Art and I could use the scout masters 
tent until we received ours the next day. 

For most of the afternoon, Art and I attempted to settle in to the
campground by exploring the woods and the camp lake. But most 
importantly, we were trying to remain low on the radar from the older 
boys especially Jon, a husky Irish farm boy with beady dark eyes who 
had the reputation of being the ringleader when it came to hazing the 
new younger scouts. 

But as the evening approached and darkness began to fall over the
Appalachian mountains, the wind also began to pick up and the air began 
to seem a little less humid and more cooler as all of us new scouts sat 
in a tent reading ghost stories out of a book. 

“Well, its getting late,” Art said to all of us. “It's time we call it a
night especially since its going to storm soon. Okay Chris, lets head 
back to our tent.” 

As Art and I walked out of the old army tent and began walking back to
the tent we were going to use for the night, we looked around the 
campground which had become deserted. No longer were the scout fathers 

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