In college I took two dance classes and a swimming course for my P.E. requirements, but for my final class one of my girlfriends decided our group should take a camping class together. Our final was a three-day camping “survival” course on the banks of the Guadalupe River; it would be a free, idyllic vacation.
During the semester we learned how to start a fire with only two sticks. We waxed and waterproofed our tents. We learned basic first aid and sanitary practices. We prepared for “living in the wild” in the back lot of the campus by an open field.
On our survival weekend it down poured and stormed for three days straight. Since it was our “final,” we could not postpone it for later.
Once we got to our destination, we unloaded our cars and no one was allowed to go back for anything. The first thing we did was to scout an area, clear it of debris, and hunt for dry wood. We covered the wood with plastic tarps to shelter it from the storm, then we set up our tents. By then, most everything and everyone was sopping wet.
We ate hot dogs and hamburgers in bread so soggy it disintegrated in our hands. Our hair hung on our shoulders like rags, and the girls who never went anywhere without full makeup, gave up trying by the end of the first day. Contacts were discarded for bifocals and Cher-like hairdos went up into pony tails.
Probably the worst was getting used to the outdoor potty we rigged in a secluded copse of trees. We laughed about it during class, but this was the real deal. We tried to do our business during daylight hours because no one wanted to go in the woods at night with only a flashlight for protection.
Everyone was assigned duties and mine was to take a two-hour watch at night. We were to keep the camp fire lit and to make sure no one or thing invaded our campsite while the others slept. My watch was from 2 am until four am, so for three nights I sat out in the rain while lightning danced all around me. I could not shelter under a tree because of the lightning and I was supposed to stay alert and move among the tents. On all three nights, I saw movement in the trees but when I reported it to our teacher leaders, they said it was just my imagination.
On our last day as we broke camp, an older man and a group of boy dressed in scout uniforms visited our camp. We learned that this group of boys were part of a troupe camped nearby. They had been sneaking over to spy on us at night, hoping an unsuspecting college girl would need to use the bathroom. Their scout leader said they would all be reprimanded once they got home, and then he dragged them out in front of us and made them apologize.
We all passed the class with A’s, and my girlfriends and I laughed at our three-day “vacation,” except for two friends who never forgave the rest of us for forcing them into this class. In retrospect I think it was because one had to give up her makeup and we saw what she looked like without it, and the other one used the camp potty at night and was probably one of the few who exposed her backside to naughty boy scouts.Me? I don’t remember many of the classes I took in college, but I certainly remember that one