When preparing for school last Wednesday night, the fourth-grade boys put not pencils, loose-leaf and bulky Saxon books in their bags, but pocket knives, flashlights, and other sundries, commonly found on the persons of those escaping to a more rustic locale. Delighted to take a break from the usual trials and tribulations of the week, students, their fathers, and teachers alike all loaded up into vehicles and headed north towards Triple T Ranch in Centerville, owned and well-operated by Phil Bolfing: the magnanimous grandfather of Joseph Owens.
There was an excellent turnout, as over twenty dads joined the caravan to this destination of 400 wooded acres. White deer, strange fowl, and dynamic landscapes helped create the ambiance for a refreshing getaway from the concretized grounds of Houston.
When most campers had arrived, boys and dads began staking in their tents and building camp, which echoed with pleasant glee and sunny fellowship. Once settled, the boys played a wide variety of games in their newfound playground, some being: infection, capture the flag, softball, and general exploration. The Explorers returned to camp periodically with all sorts of artifacts such as old bullets, ribs of quadrupeds, and skulls: the doubtless remnants of an ancient civilization of deer lords. Others spent their time whittling sticks for the coming night.
One of the highlights of the trip was when young Joseph Owens of Mr. Kolf’s class, led nearly the entire party of campers and dads to a deep gulch, a little way off from one of the paths. The party then began to play a game, the object of which was to make it back to the ravine without being spotted, having run off during a countdown at the game’s beginning. Everyone joined in the fun, but it was the youths who stole the show, when they suddenly began swinging and sliding down into the gulch on cut vines. These boys were becoming more rustic by the hour, for as the day went on their woodland athleticism increased three-fold!
Dinner consisted of a few particularly nourishing batches of frankfurters, prepared in a number of ways, some innovative and successful, some not so successful—yet innovative nevertheless. Though a frankfurter or two fell upon the ground, being the victims of precariously fashioned roasting-sticks or a distracted young cook, most were recycled and cleansed by the warm and embracing flames of the campfire. During the evening, all Western boys earned their keep and then some by gathering wood and building a pyre, which burned long enough for dinner and the eventual roasting of marshmallows. There was even a little flame left over to comfort the weary dads, content to sit by its ever-dwindling life force after a long bout of dinner preparations. The boys’ interest in the fire ebbed and flowed throughout the night, being highly contingent upon the introduction of a few novel ways of burning things.
Although the boys had spent the entire afternoon immersed in play, they did not go gently into the night; the caloric energy of the Frankfurter and multiple portions of s’more are not to be taken lightly. These now full-bore children of the wilds continued playing long after the glowing moon was high in the sky. Games like flashlight tag and other cat-and-mouse adventures were popular. Luckily, the anxious boys did not burn out their headlamps earlier that day, in anticipation of actually being able to use them when the proper time came.
The final morning began with an outdoor mass, said by a visiting priest named Father Kevin. What followed were some delicious breakfast tacos made by Chris Coffman. Folks spent the rest of the morning in a leisurely breaking of camp, followed by a few hours of fishing and piloting the aged ‘aqua toy.’ This peddle propelled vessel was hardly sea-worthy, and yet it served the fourth graders faithfully in many a voyage round the pond. They seemed to be confident that since they could render the toys name from Latin to English as ‘water toy,’ they could just as well master the vicissitudes of the pond with it. Many free passages were given to those who were daring enough to board the craft.
Once camp was cleared and packed, it was time to depart. All campers then had one final lunch of peanut butter and jelly, and bade each other farewell. Though we all knew we would see each other again soon, we could not help feeling that days like these are rare indeed.
Much thanks to Phil Bolfing, Tiffany Owens, Messieurs Kolf and Callahan, and all the dads for making this trip one that will be remembered fondly by all!