The Last Weekend in June

I was sitting reading The Fountainhead, and a cool breeze blew through the window. The breeze carried just a hint of Southern New England, but enough to transport me back over twenty years to a platform tent in Rhode Island, where my brothers and I spent the first week of the summer at Boy Scout camp - Yawgoog Scout Reservation.

We were to learn in later years that Yawgoog, located on the outskirts of Hope Valley, RI, had actually once been a Palmer property - our Great Grandfather's brother Joseph sold the land to the Rhode Island Boy Scouts in 1917.

Looking back, scout camp was as structured as a school day, but within walking distance and with lots more to do. The only grades were the merit badge requirements. Some years we spent focused on the waterfront, aided by our ready access from Campsite Musketeer. Other years we made the long trek across camp to daily activities in the Nature Center, Crafts Center, and Challenge Center.

As we got older, the lure of camp was enough to keep us planning for months beforehand. What should be packed into each footlocker? What programs would we attend? How will we win the campwide competition? Will any of the 'cool' staffmen be back?

Eventually we would become the cool staffmen. I took a less-standard route, attending camp during week one, then signing a contract to stay the rest of the summer on the Challenge Center staff. Andrew and William each became counselors in their own time.

Due to space issues, I ended up in a three-man tent with the Challenge director, Dave Newton, and his assistant, Greg Stice (from Oklahoma). They were both a bit older and actually had access to a car! I couldn't believe my luck. The luck was tempered by the location of our tent in the hollow just downhill from Camp Three Point's dining hall - dubbed Malariaville by the inhabitants. We woke to the smells from the kitchen in the morning, but dealt with the smells from the nearby dumpsters in the afternoon.

Today's smells and breezes are exactly like those that transported us from school year and into summer, those many years ago. After checking the Yawgoog website, I see that today is the first day of this year's Week One. Another batch of scouts will be experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells that will become their future memories, and the triggers for their own short future essays.