The Last Night of Camp

When it comes to camping, there are times when a bit of tiredness improves singing voices. As well as the croaky, heavy-smoker edge that fatigue gives to voices, it’s not unusual to see normally shy bleary-eyed Scouts belting out lines they’d never attempt when wide awake. Maybe it’s the anonymity the darkness lends, but there are no self-conscious singers at a campfire.

All the same, there is the point when tiredness robs us of all ability to sing, and there are people who don’t realise when they’ve crossed that point.

“We could’ve had it AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWLLL!” Emily croaked into the darkness. “Rolling in the deeeee-hee-hee-hee-heep!” She gave up as we all slumped into fits of hoarse giggles. It was sometime around midnight, and hours of singing every night for a week was taking its toll. Passively inhaling campfire smoke probably didn’t do our voices any favours, either. I knew I was going to wake the next morning with the voice of an old man.

Rosie coughed dryly through her laughter and wiped her eyes. “That was – that was beautiful, Em,” she chuckled. “Really, that was – aw, there’s no words for it.”

Emily sat up and giggled. “Yeah, I know, I’m a buerrrrr-iful singer.”

We had no campfire that night, not that we needed one. It wasn’t a cold night, and the little battery-powered lantern was bright enough to illuminate our sleepy little group. A cool, silky breeze had nudged the clouds aside, and the perfect white stars glinted down on us. A squeak emerged from the group now and then as a shooting star raced by overhead, followed by a hand reaching up to point at the spot the rest of us just missed.

The hours passed, and woolly hats were pulled on as the air grew colder. Eventually, even the hardiest of us called it a night. Tomorrow would be an early morning, with tents to be packed away and the campsite needing to be deserted by ten.

Tom picked his guitar up off the grass and absent-mindedly strummed it.

“Right, lads,” he announced, “one more song, then I’m goin’ to bed.”

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Camping – What the Ventures Taught Me

1. Bring instruments like guitars or harmonicas to the camp if you can play them. Not only do they brighten up campfires and downtime, but people always like it if you know a few catchy tunes.
2. If you’re under fifteen years of age, go back to your tents when the leaders tell you. We Venture Scouts (Scouts between the ages of fifteen and eighteen) have to wait until you’re asleep before we can sing songs that are more, ahem, adult in nature.
3. Some Ventures, especially the newest members, may consider themselves too “cool” to sing along or dance at the campfires. To quote one of my fellow Ventures: “You’re in Scouts. You’re not cool.” Just dance and enjoy yourself! 🙂
4. One for the newbies. You’ll be camping in a field, so you’re inevitably going to find the odd insect in the tent. Please don’t scream every time you see one. Squealing at frogs, on the other hand, is excusable.
5. Don’t worry too much about getting cold at night. Chances are you’ll have a tent-mate who will spoon you in your sleep.
6. If you try to get out of putting up tents or making dinner, you’re on clean-up and snack duty. Don’t be lazy!
7. Showers on campsites can’t always be trusted. There are campsites where the showers don’t receive hot water until four in the afternoon, much to the amusement of all who heard the squeals.
8. Tents are not the place for private conversations.
I’m ashamed to say that I found out that tent walls aren’t soundproof the hard way. I can’t blame anyone but myself for this, really. I forgot that we say goodnight to each other every night through the tent walls.
9. Give everything a go on camp, whether it’s ice skating or caving. You never know what you might end up enjoying!