Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Not long after the sun came up, Brian was shaking the tents. "OK you sleepyheads. It's time to rise and shine. Let's get that fire going so we can cook some breakfast."
He was answered by a chorus of moans. Since Bobby was tenting with Brian he had no choice but to stumble behind him with a rumpled look. Marco opened his eyes and looked at Sam and Ben who were snuggled deep in their sleeping bags.
He reached over and shook both of them. "Wake up guys. Duty calls." There was some movement but they were reluctant to leave their cocoons.
Marco pulled on his clothes and unzipped the tent to walk to the toilet and relieve his bladder. On the way back he smiled as he watched Brian going from tent to tent encouraging his sleeping scouts to wake up. Bobby followed him looking sleepy. Gradually the tents began to stir and soon a bedraggled group of boys stood around the fire ring looking at the remains of last night's campfire. First out were Tyron and his father Leroy. Tyron looked enthusiastic.
"OK guys, remember how we built the fire last night?" Brian asked. "Walk around the woods over there and bring back some firewood. There is lots of dead wood in there. Remember, we need kindling, little stuff and some bigger stuff to make a good fire. Let's go, let's go!"
Brian clapped his hands and plunged into the woods with little Bobby following him, Picking up dead limbs and using his foot to break them into usable lengths. Bobby busied himself picking up an armload of little sticks and twigs to use for kindling. Reluctantly the twins emerged and joined the rest in a trip to the toilet, then stretched and started looking for something to contribute to the campfire.
Marco chuckled as he watched them bring their offerings to the fire ring. Their hearts were not really in this but they were giving it a good effort. Tony and Marshall needed some special encouragement to get moving, but they finally made a showing. Marco helped Leroy drag a sizable limb over to be cut into lengths with a small saw that Brian had thought to bring.
When Brian was satisfied he instructed them in making his three piles of varying sizes and began to construct his teepee around another wad of newsprint.
"OK, who wants to light this thing?" he asked.
Now their interest picked up a bit. What kid doesn't like to play with matches after all. Brian turned to Bobby and gave him several wooden matches. "I think you picked up the most. Would you like to give it a try?"
Bobby nodded and knelt down to strike a match on the cement fire ring and poke it into the center of the news paper. It promptly went out.
"Let me try," Tyron requested, and was handed another match. He knelt down and struck his match, being careful to light the ends of the paper in several places. As it caught flame Sam and Ben joined him in feeding small twigs into the flame and blew on the fire as they had seen Brian do the night before.
Tony and Marshall seemed to get the idea and stooped to help them. Finally by group effort the fire began to blaze and caught the larger pieces.
"That's the way," Brian encouraged them. "It's team work that gets the job done." Larger pieces were inserted at strategic places and they soon had a good fire going.
"OK now, lets get some frying pans over here and be ready to cook. We just need one frying pan for each tent. Let's hustle now."
Brian was pushing them into action, but in a good natured way. By now they had accepted that he was in charge and followed his instructions without grumbling. Besides, they were hungry and very willing to fix some breakfast.
"We need to let the fire burn down to make some coals before we can cook anything. Do you remember how to sing Bill Grogan's goat?" He began to sing, "Bill Grogan's goat...." They smiled and began to respond. "Louder now," he encouraged. By the second time through they were in better spirits and the dry wood had largely burned into what might make a respectable cooking fire.
Brian stepped up to the picnic table and opened a loaf of bread. "Everybody take a couple of slices and use this biscuit cutter to make a hole in the center of each one," he ordered.
"What do we do with the circle we cut out?" Bobby asked.
"Eat it." Brian grinned. They did as he instructed.
Brian took a package of butter and a large carton of eggs out of the ice chest and began to slice the sticks of butter into large chunks.
"OK now. We are going to make 'eggs in the hole'. Here is what you are going to do. Melt the butter in your frying pan and let it spread around to cover the bottom. Then you are going to put the slices of bread in there and break an egg in each of the holes, OK? Be careful not to let it burn. Then when the egg starts to cook, you can flip it over with your spatula and let it cook on the other side. When it looks done then you can put it on a paper plate," he said, pointing to a stack of paper plates sitting on the table. "If you mess it up too bad, you can grab another slice of bread and try it again."
This began to look interesting and the boys gathered around the cooking fire and began to work at their breakfast with Brian, Marco and Leroy serving as coaches. Before long the plates were holding some edible, if somewhat scorched 'eggs in the hole'.
When there were enough for every one to have at least two of these delicacies, Brian called out. "OK guys, let's eat our breakfast. Salt and pepper is on the table." Also on the table were paper cups and a gallon of cold orange juice. They needed no further encouragement but fell to their breakfast.
The boys sat at the picnic table and Marco and Leroy sat down next to their tent with plates on their laps.
Leroy shook his head. "That Brian is amazing."
"He would make a good master sargent," Marco agreed. "He has them jumpng."
Leroy chuckled, "It doesn't hurt that they are really hungry. Nothing gets a hungry boy to focus quite like food."
The first round of goodies disappeared rapidly and the frying pans were put back into action for seconds. This time the coals were not quite as hot and the results were better. They had quickly gained a little expertise and did a better job. After the eggs were gone, Brian produced some more butter and told them to make toast without the eggs and added a jar of grape jelly to the menu. When all the bread was gone the boys were full and rather proud of themselves.
Brain had again put a pair of buckets of water on the fire to heat. He gave them a few minutes to relax and rub their full tummies, then instructed, "OK now, let's get cleaned up. Rinse the pans and spatulas in the soapy water and scrub them out with some paper towels, then rinse them."
With somewhat less enthusiasm they obeyed and managed to make a start on the frying pans. No doubt they would receive a better cleansing when they were taken home, but they passed Brian's generous inspection.
He gave them about a half hour to relax and goof off a little, then tried to get them organized for their hike.
"Alright you guys. Let's get your stuff packed up and put everything in your tents before we go on our hike. When you are ready, come over to the picnic table and I'll tell you what we're going to do."
While the boys put their things into the tents. Brain started cleaning off the picnic table which was littered with the debris from the breakfast preparation. Marco and Leroy went over to see if they could help.
"You are sure doing a fine job of organizing these boys," Leroy complemented him.
Brian grinned. "They are doing pretty good. I'm surprised they haven't complained more."
"Well, you aren't treating them like little kids," Marco told him. "It's obvious that you are just trying to get things done. You're a good leader."
"Thank you," Brian smiled broadly. "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to. This is how I learned from the older scouts when I was coming up."
"You must have had some good boys helping you," Leroy told him. "I got to admit, I'm impressed."
Brain was obviously pleased. "You gentlemen have been a big help. Some dads just expect to be waited on. Were you in scouts when you were young?"
"No, but I was in the marines. That's close enough," Leroy said.
Brian looked surprised, "I would say so. I bet you could teach us all a few things."
Leroy shrugged. "I don't know about that, but if I can help with anything, I would be glad to."
"These cubs won't do a lot more than we have done this weekend until they get into the Boy Scouts, but you might want to visit with my troop. Maybe we can talk about that later."
"Anytime," Leroy nodded
Brian thought a moment and suggested, "What you can do when we go on our hike, is follow up the rear to make sure we don't lose any stragglers, OK?" Marco and Leroy agreed.
Brian was ready to get down to business. He pulled several bird and animal guides out of his backpack and called the boys over to the table.
"OK you guys. We are going to hike the North Loop Trail. It's only a little over a mile, but I want us to take our time and see how many kinds of birds and animals we can spot. Let me show you these guides. They have photos of a lot of different kinds of birds and small animals we might see. I want you to take your notebooks and pencils and write down as many different species as we can find."
He handed out the books and took several minutes showing them how they were organized, pointing to pictures of some common birds and animals that they might see. "Now this isn't a competition. We will do this as a group. If one of you sees something then you should point it out so we can all see it, and when we figure out what it is you can write it down in your notebooks, OK?"
They flipped though the books, looking over each others shoulders until they got the idea. Then Brian advised them to fill up their canteens with fresh water and handed everyone a Cliff bar for a snack on the trail then told them, "Follow me." He strode off to the trail head with the cubs following and Marco and Leroy in the rear."
As they hiked, Brian began to point out some small birds and ask, "What's that?"
Ben responded, "That's just a sparrow."
"Write it down," Brian instructed, and they opened their notebooks and started a list.
To their surprise they saw a lot of different things, sparrows, finches and nuthatches. There was a flash of blue. "What was that? Tony asked.
"I didn't see it," Brian admitted. "Was it all blue?"
"No, it had white on its wings and it was kind of big," Tony said.
"It was probably a blue-jay. Keep looking, and listen too. You can identify a lot of birds by their calls." In a moment a raucous cry confirmed that it was a jay. After a few more steps the jay was seen in a nearby tree chattering and scolding them.
"Look there," Tyrone pointed to a small bird with black and white stripes and a red spot on the back of its head. It was pecking on a tree. "What's that?"
"That is a downy woodpecker," Brian told him. "We might see another kind, a red headed woodpecker. They are bigger and the whole head is bright red. Keep your eyes peeled."
They heard another noise in the trees and spied a red squirrel. "Write it down," Brian reminded them. They flushed several rabbits and found some tracks in a wet section of the trail. The book suggested they were possum tracks. "Write it down," Brian said.
Up above they saw a very large bird circling around. "Wow, is that an eagle?" Sam asked.
"No, it has really long wings and it head looks small. I think that is a turkey vulture," Brian suggested. "Look in the book. There is a section on silhouettes." They looked it up and decided that it was a vulture. The loud caws told them that crows were near and a few steps later they saw them in a tree.
A little farther they heard a loud rat-a-tat-tat and looked up to see a fairly large bird with a red head. "There is your red headed woodpecker," Bobby exclaimed. "He is cool."
"Yes he is," Brian agreed. "You will see those little downy woodpeckers at your bird feeders in town, but the big redheads pretty much stick to the woods."
"This is cool," Tyron said. "There is a lot of stuff in here."
"Wildlife is all around us," Brian reminded him. "We just need to keep our eyes and ears open."
The hike continued as they added more bird and animals to their lists. They saw a raccoon padding along a creek bank, and found some beavers in a pond. "That pile of brush in the water is a dam," Brian told them. "That little pond is where they have dammed up the creek."
The more they saw, the harder they looked. By the time they completed the loop, they had quite a list of birds and animals. They even saw several white tailed deer crashing through the woods.
Back at their campsite Brian let them sit for a little while. Those who still had them ate their Cliff bars and Brian pulled some Gatorade out of the cooler for them. He truly had come prepared. They sat and talked about what they had seen. "How many different birds and animals did we see?" Brian asked them. They looked at their notebooks and counted up 15 different birds and 8 kinds of animals.
"Wow, that's a lot. I never knew there were so many different kinds," Tyrone said, then thought for a moment. "Well, I guess there are more than that, but I never saw so many in one day."
"That's because you weren't looking," Leroy suggested. "We need to start paying more attention."
"So how was the hike?" Marco asked. "Did you boys enjoy it?"
A chorus of voices said "YES!"
Brian called them together and asked for their notebooks. He looked them over and declared that they had all completed the requirements for Bear. "The next pack meeting will be the last one before the summer and you will all get promoted to your Bear rank. Congratulations. Now, lets get these tents put away and we'll have some lunch. I want them rolled up tight and stuffed back in the bags nice and neat, OK?"
Marco, Leroy and Brian supervised the tent stowing and saw to it that they were brushed off and rolled away properly. It didn't take long and everything was stashed away in the back of Leroy's van. Brian emptied the ice chest and produced a last loaf of bread and a package of bologna and sliced cheese. "Help yourself guys. We'll have to just drink water. I'm afraid we drank up all the good stuff."
They were tired and hungry enough so that almost anything would have looked good. They consumed the sandwich makings and whatever else they could find. There were a few more Cliff bars and those were divided up as best they could. Tony's mother arrived promptly at two o'clock and it was time to go. They climbed into the cars and headed back to the school to be picked up by the remaining parents. It had been a very successful campout.
When they arrived back home Marco and the boys carried their gear into the house where Marty was waiting.
"Hail the conquering heroes. How was the campout?" He asked.
Both Sam and Ben started chattering at once, trying to tell him about the tents, and the hobo stew, the hike and all the things they saw.
"Whoa, sounds like you had a good time." Then he sniffed in their general direction. "You all smell like wood smoke. What do you think about a shower?"
Marco sighed. "You boys go first and leave me some hot water. I will be right behind you."
Sam and Ben headed for the shower while Marco collapsed on the sofa to talk to Marty.
"I guess you guys had quite an adventure," Marty said. "Any big problems?"
Marco shook his head. "No, the Den Chief had everything organized and ran it like a clock. I was amazed really."
How old was this kid?"
"Brian is thirteen I think, maybe fourteen. But I have not seen many adults that were as effective. He was terrific. If that is what scouting does for a boy then I hope our boys stay with it."
"Is he some kind of Eagle Scout or whatever they call it?" Marty wondered.
'No, he is a Star. I think next is Life Scout and then Eagle. I have no doubt that he will do it all though. He is as capable a kid as I ever saw. He got all those boys working together and liking it."
"No problems at all?"
March laughed. "Well, he had a little problem with a couple of boys who were horsing around in their tent, but he handled it like a pro."
Sam poked his head into the living room and announced that they had finished their showers. Marco got up and took his shower then went into the bedroom and stretched out in his undershorts. Sam and Ben dressed then came in and sat on the bed with him.
"What's the matter Daddy?" Ben asked. "You look tired."
"I am," Marco chuckled. "You guys wore me out. I'm not as young as you are, you know."
"Oh Daddy. You aren't old," Sam told him.
"Maybe not, but you still wore me out. I guess I need to get more exercise," he smiled. "I have to admit though, it was fun. Did you guys enjoy it?"
"Yes, now we are Bears!" Ben said.
"Well, we will be at our next pack meeting," Sam corrected him.
"Are you going to do scouts again next year?"
"Yes, I want to be an Eagle scout someday," Sam said.
"Me too," Ben agreed.
"I think that takes a lot of work, doesn't it?"
"I don't care, it's fun. Scouting is way cool," Ben told him.
"What did you guys think of Brian?" Marco wondered. "He made you guys work pretty hard."
"Yeah, but he taught us a lot of neat stuff," Ben said.
"And he made it fun. Brian is a really cool dude," Sam pointed out.
Marco chuckled, "Yes, he is that. Would you like to be like Brian?"
"Yeah!" they agreed.
"Well, you could do a lot worse. You could do a lot worse," Marco said with conviction. "If you guys really want to stay with this scouting thing, I will work with you to do whatever it takes. But you will have to stay with it. It's a lot of work you know."
"We will, you wait and see," Ben said, and Sam nodded in agreement.
"OK, we'll see what happens. I hope you do. I was pretty impressed with you guys this weekend."
They snuggled up next to Marco. "I enjoyed getting to know some of the other kids better," Ben said. "Like Tyron. He is kind of fun. I got to know him better."
"Yeah, I got to know his father Leroy too. I like them both," Marco agreed.
"Tony is cool. And Bobby is nice too. He's quiet but I think he's pretty smart," Sam said.
Ben smiled, "Bobby really likes Brian. He followed him around all weekend."
"I think they know each other outside of scouts," Sam told them. "Bobby told me they are cousins or something."
"Really? Brian didn't seem to treat him any different than the rest of you," Marco said.
"Well no, but that wouldn't have been fair. Brian is really fair with everybody," Sam observed.
"Yeah, Brian treats everybody the same. That's one of the things that's cool about him," Ben agreed.
Marco leaned back and put his arms around the twins. "I think you guys are pretty cool dudes yourselves. I was very proud of you both this weekend."
They lay quietly for a few minutes then Ben asked. "What are we going to do now?"
"What do you mean?" Marco asked.
"Well, it's just four o'clock. What are we going to do for the rest of the day?" Sam wondered.
Marco laughed. "I don't know about you, but I am going to take a nap. If you want more excitement go pounce on your Papa."
Sam and Ben looked at each other then gave Marco a big hug. "Thank you Daddy. We love you!" Then they bounded off the bed and ran off to pester Marty.
Marco sighed. "Ah youth. Oh to have half their energy." Then he slipped under the covers and fell sound asleep.
Marty woke him up at six o'clock. "Ready for some supper?"
Marco yawned and stretched, "I guess, what are we having?"
"Hey, you're the cook," Marty reminded him.
"Well if I am responsible for supper, we are going out for pizza."
"Sounds good to me. Since you did all the work this weekend, I'll treat."
The twins were always ready for pizza and they trooped off to Mazio's.
"School is out next week then you have a final Pack meeting before the summer," Marty pointed out. "What are your plans for the summer?"
Sam and Ben looked at each other. "I don't know, last summer we played soccer. I guess we can do that again," Ben said.
"Yeah, play soccer I guess," Sam agreed.
"You don't sound real enthusiastic," Marty observed.
"Well, soccer is cool. But we kind of got to know some guys better this weekend. I would kind of like to get together with them some more," Sam suggested.
"Yeah, cubs will be over and we won't see them again for awhile," Ben complained.
"Maybe we can invite them over sometime," Marty suggested. "I wouldn't mind that. Leroy and I talked about maybe doing something together."
"That would be cool," the boys agreed, then focused on their pizza.
The final Cub Pack meeting was a lot of fun. Sam and Ben were awarded their Bear badges and were very proud of themselves.
Sam, Ben, Tony, Tyron and Bobby spent some time talking to Brian.
"You guys did really good at the campout," Brian told them. "Are you going to do scouts again next year? Next year you will be Webelos."
"Webelos?" Sam was unfamiliar with the term.
"Webelos means We'll Be Loyal Scouts," Bobby informed him.
"Right, that's the last year of Cubs before you go into Boy Scouts," Brian said. "Do you think you want to go on through Boy Scouts?"
They all nodded in agreement.
"Can we be in your troop?" Ben asked.
"I hope you will," Brian replied. "We have a real good troop."
"Will you be our Den Chief for Webelos next year?" Tyron asked.
"Maybe, if you want me to," Brian replied with a smile.
They assured him that they did.
"Well, I'll see. It depends on who your Webelos Den leader is. Do you know who that will be?"
"I don't know," Ben admitted. "Maybe Mrs. Hernandez will do it next year."
Tony spoke up, "My mom said she wouldn't be able to do that again, sorry."
"Well, usually it's good if your Webelo Den leader is somebody's father. It doesn't have to be a man of course, but it's nice," Brian told them.
Ben and Sam looked at each other and smiled. "Our Daddy might do it. He had a real good time on our campout. We could ask him," Ben said.
"Wow, that would be great. Your dad is a cool guy," Brian grinned. "I hope he will. If so I will be your Den Chief for sure. I mean if he wants me to."
"Oh, I know he would want you. He was telling Papa how cool you are. We'll work on him," Sam assured him.
"Good luck with that," Brian said.
Tyron spoke up, "If your dad will be our Den Leader I bet my father would help him."
"Yeah, that would be way cool," Tony and the others agreed enthusiastically.
In their minds the issue was settled.
Brian was pleased at the prospect but had a question for them. "So what are you guys doing for the summer?"
"I don't know. Last summer we played soccer," Ben told him. "What are you doing?"
"Baseball, I love baseball,"Brian said. "I play Little League every summer. Do you guys like baseball?"
Tony shrugged, "I like soccer a lot. I think I will do that again."
"We have never played baseball really," Sam said. "I mean we like to watch it and have played some backyard stuff, but we have never been on a team or anything." Ben nodded.
"Hey, you should try it. You guys would be good at it," Brian encouraged them. "Bobby is on a team. Maybe you could play with him."
"Yeah, what do you think?" Sam asked Ben.
"I think that would be fun," Ben agreed. "What about you?" he asked Tyron.
"I think I could if my dad will let me," Tyron agreed. "I would like to try it."
"Baseball is cool," Bobby assured them. "I played last year and it's a lot of fun. Better than soccer I think."
"Baseball is the all American game," Brian told them.
"It would be cool if we were all on the same team," Ben decided. "Do you think we could all get on your team?"
"Hey, no problem," Bobby said with confidence. "We start next week. All you have to do is show up. Give me your phone numbers and I will call and tell you where we practice and what time we meet."
Ben, Sam and Tyron all exchanged numbers with Bobby and agreed that baseball was the thing they wanted to do for the summer. They also made plans to get together after school was out. The four boys were becoming fast friends.
And so the plot thickens. Sam and Ben began plotting to persuade Marco to be the Webelos Den Leader for the next year, and their powers of persuasion were usually quite effective. It also looked like baseball was in their future.
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