Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cub-Scout-O-Rama, or How I Spent My Honeymoon

I have just returned from Gabriel's first Tiger Cub Scout meeting, and it has brought back a barrage of memories of the first weeks of my marriage.

Allow me to explain myself: I spent my honeymoon at Boy Scout Camp. Working. As a Camp Counselor/Camp First Aid Officer/Arts & Crafts Director/Water Front Director.

No, I am REALLY REALLY not making this up. Would I lie about the Boy Scouts of America? Come on, you people know me better than that.

It was the summer of 1995. Husband and I had been hired by the AEON Intercultural Corporation to relocate to Japan and teach English as a Second Language. AEON wanted Husband arrive in Tokyo on August 21, and me to arrive in Osaka on September 15 of that year. And (they were extremely explicit about this requirement) we had BETTER BE MARRIED. Because there would be NO UNMARRIED COUPLES working together and living together (or even NOT living together) for the AEON Intercultural Corporation. (At least not at that time - it seems AEON may have changed its rules about that since '95). Since we were planning on getting married anyway, and had in fact gotten engaged on Thanksgiving Day of 1994, this was not a problem. (Originally, we wanted to get married on New Years Eve of '94. When I mentioned this to my mother, that Thanksgiving Day of my engagement, she turned 12 shades of pale and said, "Unless you are bloody well pregnant we are NOT putting together a wedding in six weeks time."*)

At any rate, Husband (then Fiance) and I returned to Tucson for the second half of my fruitless year of graduate school at the University of Arizona's Department of Sociology, and my mother and I planned my wedding during the winter and spring of '95, while we were 2000 miles apart. Or maybe 3000. A whole lot of miles between Ohio and Arizona is my point. Before email or the Internet were really taking off.

We packed up our apartment and said goodbye to Tucson at the end of May of '95, and drove home. (That drive, in and itself, is a story that deserves its own post.) And we got married in mid-June, and we needed SOMETHING to do with ourselves from mid-June to August, when David would have to get on a plane for Tokyo.

Living with either set of our parents, as newlyweds, seemed wrong. We didn't have enough money for a short term apartment rental. We needed to make enough money so that we could A. pay for our plane tickets to Japan and B. feed ourselves for the first month we were there, since AEON only pays its employees once a month. (Note, this is not a complaint about the AEON Corporation, just a statement of fact. It was not unusual, in Japan, at that time, to be paid once a month.)

So, where could we go, for eight weeks, where we could live for free, and make $2000? (Two thousand dollars being the magic number we needed - $1200 for plane tickets, and $800 to have some money to eat, etc. during our first month in Japan.)

Answer: Boy Scout Camp (Isn't that the answer that jumped instantly into YOUR heads?)

We had both worked the previous summer at Boy Scout Camp, me as the Arts and Crafts Director and Husband as the Nature Director. (Husband actually arranged for me to be hired as the Arts and Crafts Director when the original Arts and Crafts Director was arrested. Not making that up either.) We had had a great time the summer before -so, we thought, why not? Let's do it again.

Except that in 1995, the camp was understaffed, and my Husband ended up in the position of Camp Director and I ended up as Camp Counselor/Camp First Aid Officer/Arts & Crafts Director/Water Front Director. I am not going to mention which particular camp this was, because, um...I have no formal medical training and I am not licensed as a life guard. (Before you run screaming and tearing your hair out and determine never to send your children to scout camp, I will say that I am a very competent at bandaging wounds and taking temperatures and keeping track of different childrens' medications and making sure that they take them on time. And I had life guards WORKING at the water front FOR me. It's just that they were all 16 and 17 year old boys, and the state required a person over 18 to actually be "director" of the "water front".

The Camp was supposed to provide a "trailer or cabin" for Husband and I to live in together.

Let me just say that the Camp failed miserably on this front.

Their first attempt was a 1960's era Airstream Trailer that had not been opened up in about 12 years. It was on a secluded area of camp, and when we opened the door to our first home, on the 1st full day of wedded bliss, the door fell off and three mice jumped out the door. Everything inside was rotted and falling to pieces, smelled like 12 years of neglect, and it had no water hookup. I sat down on the ground and started crying.

We told the "powers that were" that there would be different accomadation or there would be no Camp Director and no Camp Counselor/Camp First Aid Officer/Arts & Crafts Director/Water Front Director. The cabin in which we had lived (in separate rooms, I might add) the summer before, had been turned into staff housing for the 15-17 year old boys who were the "junior staff."

I refused to spend a single night in the Airstream Extravaganza of Mice and Dust, so, we spent the first week of our married life sleeping on separate couches in the trailer living room of a couple from Texas who had been coming to work at this camp every summer for 10 years. They were a lovely couple who had three boys (all of whom were living in the Junior Staff cabin), and a ten year old daughter. While they had a roomy and modern trailer that they had driven up from Dallas, it was, um, not exactly the most romantic circumstances for a honeymoon - separate couches in a trailer living room, with a nice couple and their ten year old daughter. Oh, and two cats that hated eachother (one ours, one theirs.) Oh, and 300 campers and 100 leaders who were replaced by new campers and leaders every four days. Good times. Good, good times.

Next, they asked us to consider a "rustic" cabin at the edge of camp. Next to an outhouse. With a raccoon problem. Um...Nope.

Finally, a clean and reasonable trailer was obtained, and, altough it did not have a functional toilet, it DID have a water hookup that allowed us to shower and have running water to make coffee, etc. And, they agreed to move it very close to the only "real" women's bathroom on camp. It still meant hiking up a hill to use the potty, but, it was better than the rustic cabin next to the outhouse. With a raccoon problem.

We stuck it out for the whole eight weeks. Eight weeks of lousy camp food and poison ivy and working crazy hours and only have 8 days off during that whole 8 week period. And can I tell you, what made it worthwhile (aside from being crazy-in-love-newlyweds) was the campers themselves. We were working in "Weebelo" Camp, which was 7-9 year old boys. And I decided that, really, that was nothing sweeter than an eight-year-old-boy covered in melted marshmellow and chocolate from campfire, walking hand and hand with his dad as they headed back to their tents. Nothing sweeter than an eight-year-old boy making a birdhouse to take home to his mom. Generally speaking, there is something still young and innocent about little boys at that age, poking around in puddles looking for frogs, and so so excited to be at real "sleep away camp" for the first time. There is nothing like an eight year old boy.

(There is also nothing like spending one's honeymoon with 300 eight year old boys to make a couple REALLY THINK LONG AND HARD before procreating. (Hence the reason why we were married five years before Gabriel joined us!))

And so, it was for the sake of those memories and the knowledge of what "Boy Scout Camp" meant to those little boys 11 years ago, that I put on my coat and shivered through my first Tiger Cub meeting. With seventeen other 6 year old boys. Seventeen! Loud! Giggly! Boys!

Oh, and if you're wondering if I volunteered the information that I was an experienced Boy Scouts of America camp leader to the rest of the Tiger Cub Parents? NOT ON YOUR LIFE. That's the kind of info that gets a person put in charge of something. Like planning a camping trip. YIKES! So, keep this info under your hats. ;-)


*True to her word, several years later, when ONE of my siblings, who shall remain nameless, ahem, found himself and his fiance in JUST THAT PREDICAMENT, I will say that my mother put together a very nice wedding in just six weeks time.


Blogger Nicki said...

Ok, crazy woman, that is all so wild I can't even believe it! You MUST write a book! Who has experiences like this!? Bwa haha. You are SO destined for den-moterhood. :-P

Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina/Mrs. Broccoli Guy said...

Okay, you are a real Trooper! 8 weeks at boy scout camp? Amazing. Definitely don't let that secret out at Tiger Cubs! LOL.

Friday, September 22, 2006 1:01:00 AM  

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