Communing with nature

I assembled all the supplies in front of me on the table and began to follow Danny’s instructions. He was so patient. I thanked him and started to wrap the metal hoop with the rough binder twine and worked to ensure I was wrapping it tightly enough to cover the metal. Danny fell silent and so did I as we were both immersed in our activities.

As I continued working away, I began to tune in to the conversation at the far corner of the table. It was three Rock Hut campers, Rick, Jeff and Justin, discussing their two week trip to Algonquin, while a couple of little Cord Hut campers, Tommy and Stephen, listened intently.

“…poured rain. Like dude, it was torrential! For, like, three days. All of my clothes were wet, even my pajamas. I was cold all the time and my fingers and toes were all shriveled.” Rick told them.

“And it was a good thing that everything was soaking cuz we knocked over the propane stove accidentally while trying to cook some raw potatoes. We coulda set the entire park on fire,” Jeff added.

“Noooo waaay,” Tommy said in awe.

“Yah way, man. And I was wearing a plastic rain poncho. Can you imagine if that plastic had caught on fire?” Rick shook his head.

“Those potatoes never did cook through either. We had to toss them into the lake. Waste of propane.” Justin added.

“And potatoes.” Rick said.

“Remember that one dude who cried the whole time he was carrying the canoe? We all offered to have him carry the paddles but he said he wanted to do his share, so he insisted on carrying it with me. He sobbed the entire 1.5 km portage. It was a good thing he was in the back cuz I don’t know how he would have been able to see where he was going with all the crying. I had to admire him though. He pushed through.” Rick gave an evil grin and nudged Jeff as they both looked over at Justin.

“Shut up!!” Justin growled. “That’s ancient history.”

“Ya. Look at you now, right! You tripping beast!” Jeff said as he held his hand out to Justin who reluctantly gave him a sad high five.

“Remember that other dude who was at the head of the line and carried, like maybe just four life jackets? He got to the next lake and instead of coming back to help us, took his shoes off and soaked his feet. You could hear the screams down the path. We thought maybe he was getting mauled by a mother bear or something! Nope! He had a leach on his foot.”

“Ya. That dude never came back to camp.” Jeff noted. Meanwhile, I shivered. I hated leeches. I felt for that kid.

“And remember when my canoe seat broke on day two of the trip and Angus had to use all the duct tape from our kit to try and MacGyver that sucker back on to the canoe? We had to take turns sitting in that seat. It was so uncomfortable no one wanted to sit there.” Justin said.

“How about the second last day when we ate lunch in our canoes on that tiny lake. We had to eat on the water cuz the mosquitoes were eating us alive in the forest, so we just tied ourselves together and passed around the food. We were nearly through all the lunch food so we were seriously scraping the bottom on the food barrel. We only had stale burrito wraps, ketchup and cheese. And the cheese? It was as hard as a rock cuz some doofus didn’t wrap it up properly. That day I wished we hadn’t tossed the potatoes into the lake. I woulda eaten them raw.” Jeff said.

“Dude! That was one of my favorite lunches!” Rick joked.

“Nah uh!” Justin grimaced.

“Remember that time that Alicia thought it might be nice to try some pine needle tea. She brewed it up to have with our dessert that one night and we all tried it. It was nasty.” Justin recalled.

“Yah, you were too polite. I took one big gulp and spit it right out. I wasn’t gonna swallow that swill. Alicia said I was being rude but I was the only one who didn’t have the craps later that night. Campers were popping squats and shot gunning it behind every tree on that camp site. Comuning with nature, like, big time. So gross but it probably kept the bears away.” Rick recounted and laughter erupted from around the table. Apparently I wasn’t the only one eavesdropping on this fascinating recollection of tripping highlights.

“The trip leaders were so concerned about constipation too! We sure didn’t have to worry about that after the pine needle tea! Maybe that was Alicia’s secret plan! It was her weapon of mass eruption.” More laughter.

“What’s consipation?” Ralphie, a little Deer Hut camper asked.

“Duuude! It’s con-sti-pay-shun,” Rick sounded it out. “It’s when number two is hard to do.”

“Whaaaat?” Ralphie looked confused.

“It’s when you don’t crap.” Ralphie could barely suppress a grin and then broke out into giggles along with the rest of the class.

“Who cares about that?” Ralphie asked though his giggling fit.

“It’s a pretty common problem on trip cuz you are sweating and schlepping all those backpacks and canoes and you can never seem to be able to keep up with filtering the water and drinking it. If you don’t keep up with your water things get dried up in there and then you can’t poop and then you feel like you are gonna upchuck and your belly hurts. It’s bad news buddy.” Rick explained as Ralphie looked at him in total astonishment. “Amirite, Nurse Anne?”

I sat upright upon hearing my name. The whole craft table was looking at me for confirmation. “Yup. Pooping is important. That’s for sure.” I nodded.

“How often should you poo?” Ralphie asked.

“Most people go two to three times per week.” I answered as some of the campers nodded and compared with their neighbor.

“Well…what happens if you don’t?”

“The very worst case scenario, and this is not common, is your poop can perforate your bowel. That means your bowel can burst open because, um, well, you are…full of it…” I stifled a giggle and carried on “…and you haven’t pooped it out. If your bowels rupture all that poop is dumped…” I take a breath, “…into your belly and it will cause an infection. You would need an operation to clean it all out and sew up the hole in your bowel. So, ya, a terrible case of constipation can kill you.”

“Poop kills?” Ralphie asked, looking dumbfounded.

“Sure Ralphie. Ya. Too much and too little is not good.” I looked around the table and all eyes were on me. There were various expressions ranging from distaste to fear to smirks. I gave a tiny smile.

The lunch bell rang. I waited a beat. “And that’s the scoop…on poop.” I said, and I threw my hands in the air. The campers all howled and clapped.

“Wrap it up guys. Put your dreamcatchers away in your cubby. See you tomorrow.” Erin directed the campers.

I tidied up my area and grabbed my supplies. “Hey Erin! Where is a good spot for my stuff.”

Erin waved me over. “Just put your project here.” She pointed to a cubby. “Nice job on the biology lecture.” Erin patted my shoulder. “Very informative.” Erin nodded

I looked at her sideways. “You think so?”

“Oh yes. My favorite part was ‘when you are full of it’ and ‘dumped’.” I paused and then turned my head to look at her. She was grinning from ear to ear. We both convulsed with laughter.

“I’m so sorry, Erin.” I said through my laughter. “I’m SO childish!”

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