Marco, Marty and the Twins

by Nick Brady

Chapter 22

Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.

At eight o'clock Marco tapped on the connecting to to the room full of boys. "You guys want some breakfast?"

In the next room two pairs of sleepy boys began to stir and untangle themselves. Recalling that they were still at Silver Dollar City they crawled out of bed and started looking for a change of clothes. There were more rides to ride and things to do.

The hotel had a breakfast buffet that was part of the package and the waffle irons were a novel treat. Once refueled, they assembled at the entrance to the park.

"If you guys can stay out of trouble, we will let you go off by yourselves," Marco gave them their instructions. "Stay together and we will meet back here at two, OK?" Solemn oaths of good behavior were taken and the boys skipped off smiling.

The park had a number of roller coaster rides and they tried to ride them all. The Outlaw Run was a classic wooden ride which found them upside down at several points. Riverblast armed them with soaker pistols which they put to good use and got wet in the process. There was a giant swing and the Electric Spin where they were able to dry off somewhat. They chased themselves around in Grandfather's Mansion with its uneven floors and trick mirrors. They were noisy but managed not to get into any serious mischief. They knew how to have a good time

Marco and Marty contented themselves with a long ride on the old steam train and enjoyed the many artisans. They watched the blacksmith, the glass blower and the woodcarvers, then sat and listened to old timers play traditional music on guitars, banjos and fiddles. Marco considered buying a mountain dulcimer but decided it would be too much trouble to carry around. They had a good time too, but at a more relaxed pace than the rowdy boys.

At two they met as agreed and ate lunch at Molly's Mill. The big buffet featured fried chicken and catfish, corn on the cob and home made bread. They definitely got their money's worth.

Back in the car, Marty drove them home with Marco as his navigator. The weary boys piled in the van and slept most of the way home. It had been an interesting twelfth birthday.

Brian was working full time at the bike shop and the boys were playing baseball. In between the twins worked at completing the requirements for First Class scout, and Brian worked on his Eagle. Soon after the birthday trip to Silver Dollar City they went to the weeklong Scout camp down at Camp Tom Hale. Brian was the Senior Patrol leader and needed to be there so he managed to talk Wayne into letting him have the week off and joined them.

Sam and Ben figured Scout camp would be a blast and should provide them with the opportunity to work off a lot of their requirements. Paul Marshall the scoutmaster had pleaded with the dads in the troop to join them for camp to provide additional adult leadership and Marco had agreed. This would be his first experience at a scout camp and it was not difficult to persuade him.

Tom Hale is a beautiful old camp. Set in Southeastern Oklahoma in the Kiamichi Mountains, it is a paradise of tall pines and wildlife, and the twins thought they were in heaven. They had already been on a number of campouts both in Cubs and now with the Boy Scouts. The cooking requirements were easy for them as Marco and Brian had walked them through many of the details of proper tools and food sanitation. At the summer camp they were able to sign up for a number of classes in first aid, pioneering and orienteering.

"What's orienteering?" Sam wondered as they looked over the signup sheet.

"That's your map and compass work," Brian explained. "You have to lay out and run a one mile compass course."

"But we don't even have a compass," Ben pointed out.

"You can buy all that stuff at the camp store," Brian told him. "They have more in there than just pop and treats."

"Daddy gave us some money. Let's go check it out," Sam suggested.

The camp store was in a little shack on one side of the main camp area and they found it was a treasure house of cool stuff. Almost everything they would need was there as well as all kinds of leather working and lacing kits, even a small loom for beadwork.

"Cool! We could do some bead work for our regalia," Ben told Sam.

"Look at the tubes of colored beads. That would be fun. But maybe we should wait until the end of camp and see if we have any money left," Sam suggested. "Daddy didn't give us all that much."

Ben looked longingly at the little loom. "I know you're right, but that's really cool."

They bought a pair of nice Silva compasses and a few other necessities then left for their first meal in the big dining hall. There were long rows of tables with chairs neatly placed alongside. Down one wall were windows that looked back into the kitchen and provided a serving line. It was warm and steamy inside and smelled good. They filled their trays and found the other members of their troop to sit together. Sam and Ben found a chair next to Tyron and Bobby, Brian sat with his friend Luke. The food wasn't fancy but it was plentiful and boy friendly.

"This is pretty good," Bobby decided.

"It helps that we're really hungry," Tyron pointed out.

"Chow down and don't spend your money on junk food at the camp store," Brian advised.

"Will we need stuff for Pioneering?" Ben asked.

"No, they will have rope for knots and lashing you can use," Brian told them. "All you need right now is your compass for Orienteering. Do you have that?"

"Yes, we got those at the store," Sam said.

"You're set then," Brian smiled.

The four friends had signed up for mostly the same things so they could stay together, and the first session was Orienteering. They walked down to a shaded area and sat down on the grass with some boys from other troops who were there. This was fun and they hoped to make some new friends before the week was over.

An older boy was serving as the counselor and opened up a big flip chart on an easel. "Hello, I am Robert McManus," he introduced himself, "and I'm going to teach you about Orienteering. Who needs this for First Class scout?"

About half the boys raised their hands. Robert looked them over. "By the time the week is over you should have all the requirements completed if you will do the work. You can't do everything in class so be ready to work together on some of this. Got it?"

They looked at each other and nodded.

Although Ben didn't know what Orienteering was before he signed up, he decided quickly that this looked pretty interesting. The nifty compass they bought in the store had more on it than they realized. There were markings on the flat surface around the compass itself, and a little magnifying glass on the bottom. Robert unfolded a big map of the camp area and told them how to read the curving lines and how to position their compasses so that it corresponded to the map. On the rotating dial of the compass itself were markings that let them determine an exact direction. Sam and Ben thought this was pretty cool.

After some basic explanation Robert pointed to a tree off in the distance. "Line up, and we will show you how to determine your pace. Walk in the way you normally would and count your steps as you walk towards that tree. Got it? Now walk single file and remember to count your steps. Go!"

When they all got to the tree, Robert had them count their steps again as they walked back to where they had started.

"OK now, how many steps did you count?" he asked.

Sam was a little surprised to realize that they didn't all have the same number, although he and Ben's were almost the same. Several taller boys including Tyron, had a smaller number of steps.

Robert smiled at them. "See, your individual stride is not the same, because maybe you have longer or shorter legs, and maybe because the way you walk is a little different. So take the two numbers you counted going in each direction and average them. That means add them up and divide by two, got it? Use your pencil and the little note book that you are all supposed to have, right?"

Not every scout was prepared with pencil and note book and some borrowing was required. "You are supposed to have those guys. If not, you can buy a notebook at the scout store," Robert advised them. "You will need those for all your classes this week."

Sam and Ben were prepared.

"Now that you know how many steps it took for you to walk to the tree, I will tell you that the distance to the tree is one hundred feet. If you divide one hundred by your average number of steps, then you will know how long each step is. That is your pace and you can use that to determine distance, got it?"

Not all of them understood, but after some simple discussion of arithmetic the idea got across and with some coaching, they all knew their individual pace.

"That's all the time we have for today," Robert told them, "Tomorrow we will learn how to determine direction using your compass. If you don't have one the scout store sells them. See you tomorrow."

"That was kind of interesting," Sam said. "What's next?"

Ben looked at their schedule. "Pioneering."

They went to a cleared area where some boys were already gathering. There was a stack of wooden poles and a big spool of rope waiting for them.

A tall boy intruded himself, "Hello, I'm Danny Beaver and I am going to teach you how to make stuff out of poles and rope lashing, Sit in a circle around me."

Each boy was given several lengths of quarter inch hemp rope and a short wooden pole. Danny proceeded to show them how to wrap the ends of their ropes with some string, then how to use those to tie the knots and lashings they would need to construct some useful items for their campsite.

Danny began by showing them how to tie a clove hitch and a timber hitch. "These are the two most important knots for lashing poles for a lot of useful camp items," he told them. "You have to know how to tie these before we can really make anything. Before the week is over you will know a lot more knots and how to do square, shear, and diagonal lashings. With those you can make all kinds of things. Watch closely."

The boys tried to imitate what they were shown while Danny and another older scout went from boy to boy until they were satisfied that they all knew how to do this correctly. "That's right, pull them up snug, there you go."

The scouts were paired up and each pair was given three short poles and more rope. "The first thing we will make is a simple tripod," Danny told them. "Watch as I do one and you do the same."

Beginning with a timber hitch, Danny secured a length of rope to one of the poles then lashed the three poles together at one end, finishing with a clove hitch to hold it all together. The final result was a tripod that opened out to stand rigidly with the bound end at the top.

"You can use this for all kinds of things, to hang a cooking pot over a fire, and a stand for almost anything. When you are through, you can fold the legs back together and save it to use again."

Some of the boys did pretty well and others found their project falling apart. "Tie them tight," Danny instructed them, and assisted their efforts until they all had usable tripods.

"Leave this stuff here," he said, "and tomorrow we will learn how to make some other things."

"That's harder than it looks," Bobby admitted.

Tyron grinned. "It was easy – the third time."

The next session was at the swimming pool. They were pleased to see that Brian was one of the older boys who were there to assist.

The very first thing they stressed was the buddy system. First rule: never swim alone. They paired the boys up and stressed that they were to keep track of where their 'buddy' was at all times. There were some elementary rules for safety, then they all had to pass the swimming test to determine who could swim and who could not.

"All we have to do is swim seventy-five yards out and twenty-five back. That's easy," Ben said to Sam.

"And float on our backs, that should be easy too," Sam said to Ben.

For their First Class requirements Sam and Ben also had to learn a simple procedure for helping someone back to shore who was in trouble. They took turns on each other. Since Tyron was a non-swimmer, Bobby teamed up with Sam who agreed to be rescued again. They did fine.

Bobby was in his element and he, Sam and Ben passed their test easily, although lacking any body fat they all three had trouble floating on their back without sinking. Tyron was sent with some other boys to receive basic swimming instruction. Brian worked with him to improve his skills. While the non-swimmers were being coached, those who had demonstrated they were swimmers were allowed some time for a free swim and began to frolic in the water.

Every few minutes a whistle was blown and the leader called out "buddy check!" Each pair of boys were to quickly move together and raise their hands to show that they were with their swim partner. If a pair took more than the count of five to raise their joined hands they had to get out of the water until the next buddy check. Swimming accidents at scouting events are extremely rare.

Those boys who were working on their swimming merit badge had to demonstrate their proficiency at different strokes and distances while the others enjoyed the swim time.

"I can swim, but I don't know all that other stuff," Sam admitted.

"We will need to learn how to do that," Ben reminded him. "Swimming is one of the required merit badges if we are going to get past First Class."

The whistle blew and it was time for lunch. There was no grumbling about that. On the walk up the hill to the dining hall Sam, Ben and Bobby walked together. They saw Tyron walking in a separate group of boys who had been receiving additional swimming instruction. Tyron was walking with his head down and another boy was talking to him. Something about the way Tyron was walking didn't look right to them.

Once in the dining hall they went through the chow line and sat with the rest of their troop.

"How is it going so far?" Mr. Marshall asked them and listened as they shared the morning's experiences.

Ben decided that he liked Orienteering the best. "I want to know how to do a compass course."

"I liked Pioneering," Sam said. "I want to know how to make stuff out of ropes and poles."

Bobby grinned. "I love to swim. I think maybe I'll start on my Swimming merit badge."

"You should," Ben told him. "You are already a good swimmer."

"I took lessons at the YMCA last year."

Tyron seemed unusually quiet. "What did you like?" Sam asked him.

"It was all pretty fun," he said. "Maybe I can learn to swim better."

"What did they have you do to learn to swim?" Marco asked.

"Mostly I had to hang on the edge of the pool and kick my feet," Tyron replied.

"Who were those guys you walked up the hill with?" Bobby asked. "Did you make some new friends?"

Tyron looked down at his plate and shrugged. "Not really."

After lunch they had some free time and walked down to their campsite. The camp had issued them some simple military surplus tents to shelter them from the rain and the various creatures that might fall from the tall pines that made a canopy over them. There was space in each tent for two boys. Some of the boys had brought cots for comfort, the rest threw their sleeping bags on a foam pad and slept on the floor of the tent. As might be expected, Sam and Ben shared a tent, as did Bobby and Tyron. Brian and Luke were the two senior scouts and shared a tent together. Marco and Paul Marshall shared a tent. They brought cots. There was some rustling and giggling from the boy's tents which Marco ignored. He slept well despite Mr. Marshall's snoring.

Everything about this place was an adventure for these young boys. Most of them lived in the city so being constantly outside in a pine forest was an adventure in itself. There were birds of all varieties, some seen flitting through the trees, some known only by the sound of their calls echoing from above. There were interesting butterflies sailing by and large beetles making their way across the forest floor. Bobby found a large 'walking stick' which calmly perched itself on Bobby's cap as he walked down the trail. Squirrels abounded in the treetops and other mysterious animals were seen scooting out of sight as they approached.

They spent some time straightening up their camp which had been hastily thrown up the evening before. Now they raked their area free of leaves and strung lines between the trees on which they could hang wet clothing. There was an informal competition between the many troops at camp on any given week. No prize was awarded but newly made friends were invited to "come see our campsite – it's really neat."

When their break was over it was back for some instruction. The friends Sam, Ben, Tyron and Bobby had agreed to say together and it was now time for First Aid. This was another skill required at various levels for each rank, and the First Aid merit badge was required for Eagle Scout. Sam and Ben had already prepared a personal first aid kit with Brian's help and brought it with them. They wanted to complete the merit badge before the week was over. Brian went with them and they discovered he was quite knowledgeable in first aid.

"Gee, there is a lot to learn," Ben said.

"There is, but I can see this being useful," Sam pointed out. "Brian knows everything!"

"Brian's good at a lot of stuff," Ben agreed.

The first aid training was very thorough and they were told what to do in case of everything from burns to broken bones. They learned about CPR, and Bobby was secretly hopeful that he would get to practice the mouth-to-mouth on his partner Tyron, but was disappointed to see that there was a life sized dummy for that purpose. The class would continue for another day and they all agreed it was very interesting.

There were other merit badge classes offered later in the afternoon. There was no lack of things to do.

Brian wanted to complete his Archery merit badge and left to work on that. The four friends decided that it would be fun to do some crafts and had signed up for Basket Weaving.

"Basket Weaving has to be the most puddest merit badge of all time," Ben laughed.

"I don't think so," Sam argued. "It's fun and we will end up with a basket to show for our time. Besides, basket weaving is a Native American craft and that's us."

Ben shrugged and grinned in agreement. Bobby wanted to do Canoing and had signed up for that later in the week. Bobby loved anything that happened in the water. Ben and Sam wanted to work off a merit badge that was required for Eagle while they had the chance. They looked at Environmental Science and Emergency Preparedness.

"Wow, these are a lot of work," Ben sighed, "and there is stuff that we will have to finish when we get home."

"These aren't Basket Weaving, that's for sure," Sam agreed, "but it looks like we can get most of Environmental Science while we are here. Maybe that makes it easier than Emergency Preparedness."

"OK, let's do that," Ben agreed. "We can do most of Swimming and make a good start on the other one. That's two Eagle badges out of the way.'

Sam looked at Ben. "Are we really going to go for Eagle Scout? I mean after seeing how much work it is?"

Ben grinned at Sam. "Yes. Not just yes, but hell yes. You coming with me?"

"I will if you will," Sam replied.

Later at the dining hall they discussed the day's activities.

"How are you doing with the swimming?" Bobby asked Tyron.

"Better. I think I'll be a swimmer in another day or so. Brian was helping me," Tyron smiled at Brian.

"He's doing pretty good, I think he will make it." Brian agreed and looked at the others. "How are you doing with your merit badges?"

Bobby grinned, "I'm going to get Swimming and Canoing. That is so cool!"

"You should do one of the Northern Boundary treks. You would love that," Brian suggested.

"What's that?" Bobby asked.

"That's where you go up to the boundary waters between the US and Canada and canoe through the Northern wilderness." Brian told him. "I've always wanted to do that. It's supposed to be really fantastic."

Bobby's eyes lit up. "Yeah, I want to do that!"

"We are going to get Swimming and I think try to do Environmental Science, or at least the part we can do here," Sam spoke for himself and Ben. "It would be cool to finish the Pioneering and Orienteering badges, but even if we don't complete that here, we will learn enough for First Class."

"Even if we don't finish all of this stuff, we will have a lot of the requirements complete," Ben reminded him.

"That's smart," Brian told him. "You want to get your Eagle required badges as soon as you can. When you get a little older you will find yourself busy with other stuff and short of time. Don't be like me. I have put off my Citizenship badges for last and now it's going to be a hassle to finish them."

"Don't they offer one of them here at camp?" Bobby asked.

Brian nodded. "Citizenship in the World, and I am signed up for that. But I will have to do some of it after we get back home."

"Right, that's true for Environmental Science too," Sam told him.

"We'll have to work together on those," Brian smiled.

The idea of working together with Brian sounded good to the twins.

They finished their supper and prepared to leave. As they were making their way to drop off their trays, Tyron stumbled and dropped his, making a lot of noise.

"Clumsy shit," a boy sneered at him.

Tyron cleaned up his mess without comment and deposited it to follow his friends out of the dining hall.

"What happened to you?" Marco asked him.

"That guy tripped you," Bobby said to Tyron. "Wasn't that the same guy who was talking to you on the way back from the water front?"

Tyron shrugged, "Yeah, he's kind of a jerk."

They made a stop at the camp store and looked over the things for sale. Sam and Ben bought a pair of basket kits and looked over the assortment of Camp Tom Hale T-shirts.

"We need one of those," Ben said.

"They will be here tomorrow," Marco told him. "Save your money." They all bought an ice cream bar and ate them on the way back to their campsite. He didn't tell them that Mr. Marshall intended to buy each boy a camp T-shirt out of the troop money.

Once back at their campsite they all laid around for awhile, then at Brian's encouragement began working off some of the written work for their merit badges and put it in their notebooks.

The next day their activity continued with Tyron almost swimming the seventy-five yards to qualify as a swimmer. He did manage to do the back float.

At lunch time they chowed down on some decent hamburgers and agreed that they were making progress. Mr. Marshall left early leaving Marco in charge. When they got up to leave, the same boy pushed his chair back and tried to trip Tyron again.

"Hey, watch it!" Tyron exclaimed, obviously annoyed.

The bully stood up to face Tyron and said under his breath, "What you gonna do about it, nigger?"

Without a moment's hesitation Tyron punched the boy hard in the face, lifting him off the floor and sending him sprawling.

To those who didn't hear what the boy had said, it looked like Tyron had started a fight. One of the adult camp staff called out, "Hey, we will have none of that!"

Marco had heard what the bully said, and grabbed Tyron. "This is one of my boys. I will handle this," he said loudly and hustled Tyron out of the hall.

Once outside, Tyron was flustered and tried to explain, "He called me a name!"

"Let's go to our campsite boys," Marco said and quickly walked them down to where they were camped.

Back at their tents, Tyron was almost in tears. "I didn't start that," he sputtered.

Marco was pissed. "I saw exactly what happened Tyron. That kid deserved to get decked. Good job!"

It took a second before Tyron realized what Marco had said. "Really?" He looked relieved.

"Really. You aren't in trouble with me, I'm proud of you. That bully has been hassling you all week. He had it coming."

Tyron looked a little scared. "But I guess it looked like I just punched him for no reason."

Marco shook his head. "Don't worry about it Tyron. I'll see to it that the staff knows what really happened. I think they need to send that kid home."

Tyron's face broke out in a smile. "Thanks. I guess I really shouldn't have punched him like that, but...,"

"If it was me, I would have kicked him in the nuts. You did what you had to do. Don't worry about it, OK?" Marco smiled at him.

The boys in the troop gathered around as Ben explained what the bully had said. In their minds Tyron was a hero, and they pounded him on the back. Tyron was normally a quiet pleasant sort of a boy, but he was no pushover, and certainly was no coward.

While they talked about the unexpected excitement, Marco went back to the dining hall and talked to the staff there. The bully was identified and the staff promised to deal with him. Later in the day he was seen loading his gear into a parent's car to be taken home. Justice was done. Case closed.

The next day was spent learning to lay out a compass course. Using the compass for direction and counting their steps for distance, they created instructions to go so far in this direction, then so far in another, making several turns and ending back at the starting point. The total distance covered was just over a mile. At each turn they placed a marker of some kind. When the courses were laid out by one group of boys, then another group had to follow the instructions and write down the name of the markers placed at the turns. They had a lot of fun with this.

Throughout the week the boys got a lot done. While they didn't have time to do everything for their Pioneering merit badge, they did learn to tie many useful knots and worked together to lash up a tower with a platform on top, and took turns climbing to the top and enjoying the view. What remained would be accomplished later.

The last night of camp was a big campfire and each of the troops contributed a variety of skits and stunts. On the walk down to the campfire Brian called Sam, Bobby and Tyron aside and whispered instructions for an easy skit. They laughed and joined the others.

The entire contingent of Boy Scouts and their leaders were assembled in an arc of benches around three sides of a big fire pit in which was a tall stack of wood. Off to the side a flashlight was shone on a tall boy dressed in buckskins and a full Indian headdress. He dramatically raised a bow and arrow. A second boy struck a match and lit the end of the arrow which burst into flame. The boy pulled back on the string and let the arrow fly straight and true into the center of the woodpile. There was a moment of suspense and the fire caught, quickly blazing into an intense flame which illuminated the faces of those present. It was dramatic and very effective. It was not obvious to the crowd that the arrow had been affixed to a wire leading from the boy to the fire pit, assuring his accuracy. Nor did it matter that the center of the stack of wood had been prepared with rags and kerosene. It was a great opening and was greeted with a loud cheer.

The camp director made a very brief and funny speech then turned things over to the scouts. Each troop, sometimes by individual patrols, got up to contribute some sort of entertainment, a skit, a goofy song, or a joke. In general they met the three standard criteria: Short, silly and funny.

When it was their turn, the three boys walked out in front and began Brian's skit.

Bobby stepped up to Sam and said in a loud voice, "I don't know what's wrong, but everything I touch hurts real bad." Bobby pushed his finger against his head, "Ouch, that really hurts." He touched his stomach, "Oh man, that hurts too." He stuck his finger in his ear, "Wow, that is really painful!"

Sam listened sympathetically, "Let me look, maybe I can see what's wrong." Sam looked carefully at Bobby's head, then his stomach, finally putting his eye up to Bobby's ear and waving his fingers on the other side of his head. "I don't see anything," Sam said, "Maybe you should go see the camp doctor."

Bobby turns and walks over to Tyron who is pretending to read from a clipboard. "Excuse me doctor but everything I touch hurts real bad. Can you help me?" Bobby repeated the demonstration, touching his head, his stomach, and his ear, crying in pain each time.

Tyron pretended to examine him, looking at his head, stomach and ear finally snapped his fingers and said, "I know what your problem is." Tyron whispers in Bobby's ear and Bobby returned to Sam.

"What did the doctor say?" Sam asked him.

Bobby holds up his finger and announces, "My finger is broken!"

This got a big laugh and the three boys returned to their places with their troop.

Several other skits were done by other groups of scouts, then a small boy came out and stood in front of the campfire. He was very thin and wore thick glasses. He stood up very straight and took a deep breath as if about to sing.

A ripple of laughter came out of the crowd of boys. "Look at that dweeb," a boy was heard to say.

Brian looked around and held up his hand to silence them. Then the boy began to sing in a pure sweet soprano.

"I love a parade, the tramping of feet, I love every beat, I hear of a drum. I love a parade, when I hear a band, I just want to stand, and cheer as they come."

The small boy's clear voice rang out over the campfire. He looked proud and his voice carried out into the night. He sang the rest of the song, gesturing with his hands at all the right times. The laughter quickly subsided and a hush fell over the boys as they listened to this small scout sing his heart out. He had a beautiful voice and he was not afraid..

When his song was over he bowed as he had been taught and began to walk away. There was a moment of silence then Brian began to clap. He was quickly joined by all the others and the sound of loud applause followed the little boy as he took his place with his troop.

"Wow, he can really sing," Ben said.

"He sure can," Sam agreed. "And that took guts. I couldn't have done that. That Scout is brave."

Not long after the singer the campfire was concluded and they walked back to their tents. It had been a nice experience for a number of reasons.

It was a great week. Tyron passed his swimming test, Sam, Ben and Bobby completed their First Aid merit badge, their Swimming merit badge, their Orienteering merit badge and all the requirements for the others that they could work off while at camp. Brian did the same for his Citizen in the World badge and Archery as well. Sam and Ben took home some nifty baskets and a cool camp tripod. It was a great week.

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