As a Boy Scout for almost 13 years, I have taken part in many camping trips. I have learned that to have fun while camping, you must be miserable—at least part of the time. If you go camping to be comfortable, you’re missing the point: to have an adventure!
This summer was my last campout as a scout, I wanted to do something I had never done before—the High Adventure Horseback Riding trip, which consisted of a ride to a remote campsite where we would pitch our own shelters. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! I had never touched a horse, and now I was going to be taking care of one.
A week before camp, I decided to get a quick horseback riding lesson, and in doing so, I earned my horsemanship merit badge. I felt ready as we hopped in the car and headed from the great state of Texas to Oklahoma. During the seven and a half hour trip, the other scouts had to use the bathroom every time we passed a gas station. When we finally arrived at the camp, we ate chili dogs and were treated to some hilarious skits performed by the other scout troops.
The first day was uneventful, except for the demon moth the size of my hand that attacked my brother! Needless to say, I killed the beast. (It was actually a Corydalus cornutus dobsonfly. Feel free to Google it).
On the second day, I packed my stuff, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed to the barn with five other scouts. Our guide assigned each of us a horse or mule. I had a white horse named Elsa (yes, after the Disney character). Before saddling up, we had to brush our horses and were told to talk to them so that they would be comfortable with us. I asked Elsa who she liked in this presidential election—no comment. While we were tacking up something spooked one of the horses, causing the rest of them to go beserk, run backwards, and take the fence attached to their lead ropes with them. This is how our day began.
I didn’t really notice the heat until we started riding. Riding for two or three hours in upwards of 90-degree heat with humidity gets to you. When we finally reached our campsite and tied up the horses, my first priority was to make a shelter. Unfortunately, the only place suitable for making a shelter was in some tall grass which was definitely infested with ticks and chiggers! Instead, I just laid down a tarp and put my sleeping mat on it. Before bed, I sprayed the tarp with bug spray to keep the ticks away. It worked.
On day three, we rode our horses for about three hours then returned to our remote campsite, First order of business was to cool off, but in order to get to the lake, we had to run through that field of tall grass filled with ticks and chiggers. After a hot ride, this was a risk we were willing to take. The water was nice and cool, but when we got out, we discovered our legs were covered in leeches. Thankfully, they were small enough to be pulled off by hand. We returned to camp to tend to our horses. I spent 30 minutes swatting horseflies from Elsa.
The fourth day, we returned to base camp. As we were unloading, a scout’s mule ran off. Three scouts went to retrieve the animal; an hour later they returned empty-handed. Later, we got a phone call saying the lost mule had shown up at the Trading Post (a store at the camp). The mule and rider returned 45 minutes later.
This is a recap of one of the many adventures I’ve had as a scout. I’ve camped through all types of extreme weather and experienced dehydration and heat exhaustion. Fortunately, this trip didn’t involve much suffering—and I still feel I went on quite the adventure!