Monday, November 10, 2008

Backyard Camping a Possum and Time Well Spent

Those who know me know I spend a lot of time outdoors and teaching kids about hunting and fishing. I don’t always take them far and away to exotic lands and lakes, a lot of times I teach them urban outdoor skills. Al it really takes is a backyard, a creek, a ditch, a tree or just a patch of grass if that is all there is. But outdoors is the key word.

We ended up with three boys last night. Darius, Kyle and Jon-Michael. Two of the boys are boys I have been mentoring for a while, JM is mine, he has been part of the TJ way since his birth. The plan was to let them hangout after church and with no school on Monday we could go late. The plan morphed into a sleep over then a camp out in the backyard. This gave me another chance to kick in the TJ urban outdoor living program.

After a grilled cheese lunch the plan was put into place. BB guns were handed out and loaded to capacity. If we were to ever cash in on the copper content of the BB’s we keep at our house we would be rich. First the mandatory safety lesson and then they were off down the deer trail. The deer trail is a well worn path along the electric substation heavily wooded on both sides. No animals but cans and leaves and stuff to shoot at.

Hours were spent exploring and plinking. They ended up at what they call the sewers. This is an intersection of large concrete drainage ditches. They came back and swapped the guns for bikes and skateboards and were off again until sundown.

Just as it was getting dark we cleared a spot under the outdoor kitchen area, a tin shed where I use my grill, and put up cots. Then we put some wood in the burn pit and sparked up a campfire. They grilled deer sausage from sticks and heated a can of beans for dinner. The rest of the timeline goes something like this.

At 10 p.m. - I told them time to go to bed. The fire had burned down and I was beat, so they needed to be in bed.

11: 40 p.m. – Checked on them through the back door window, they were sitting by the all but gone fire again, throwing small sticks in for short bursts of flames. “Go to bed," was the cry from the kitchen door.

12:30 a.m. – “Get him” was the warrior’s cry. Bang, clank, bang again….."here he comes run".. they had seen a possum and were chasing it around the yard and throwing rocks and sticks and laughing hysterically. My wife awoke to hear me laughing out loud. She told me in no uncertain terms to go and quiet them down. I let them have fun. She rolled over and went back to sleep knowing it was a lost cause.

1:15 a.m. – “Bang, get him, pop, over there, run - there he goes.” Rocks were flying and hitting everything including the house and wood fence. OK now I was going to have to tell them to go to bed. “Dad, there he is get him,” my son yelled as I walked around the corner of the house. The possum was hanging on the fence. I tailed him and took him out across the street and released him to the woods. “Go to bed or else,” was my hollow charge.

2 a.m. Checking out the back door again I saw Darius up on a chair with a big stick in one hand and the flashlight in the other. JM and Kyle were asleep. He was scared of another possum attack. I had him to lay down and it was only minutes before he fell asleep.

3:40 a.m. – Checking again through the back door they were up again sitting by the fire. Small flames flickering on their faces, I walked out to check on them. They asked what time it was. I told them a quarter to four and to get back into bed. “We thought it was almost time to get up.” They had no watch or TV or radio to check the time. “Go to bed, I will get you up early.”

6:15 a.m. - Sunrise, I drag myself in to the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, ours begins brewing automatically at 5:30 a.m. I look out back and two of the three were up. I wander out and help them set up the Coleman stove. The one sleeping camper had makeup on his face, that is what happens at camp if you sleep in I guess.

They cooked a big breakfast outside, cleaned up and resumed the BB gun and skateboard outing all day. At about 4 p.m. the two visiting campers went home, school tomorrow. Mine showered and crashed out. When I checked on him he woke for a moment and said, “man dad that was awesome,” then fell back asleep.

I may not always do it right but this time, score. I built a memory for the boys, one that includes me. We learned stuff, played, chased a possum and ate food cooked over the open fire. Man what a deal.

I am absolutely beat, I had meetings till late tonight, thus the late posting of this blog. God was good this weekend, and I loved it. Don’t pass up a chance to live your life and thank Him for each and every day.

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