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I REMEMBER WHEN…. (Chapter 13 – The Camporee)

October 7, 2011 by · 2 Comments 


I had just graduated from Cub Scout Webelows to the Boy Scouts.  This was my first “Camporee” and as such, my first experience camping with a new and older group of scouts.

Our Scout Master was a Korean War Vet everyone called George.  He often reminded us of his “camping” experiences in the cold, rain and mud with little or nothing to protect himself from the elements.  According to George, this is what makes boys into men.

About twenty of us had arrived at our camping site on Norris Lake joining with several other scout troops.  We cleared our area of debris and pitched out tents.  Most of us had pup tents – each scout having half a tent and needing a scouting buddy with the other half to make a full tent.

After pitching our tents, we would dig a trench around the perimeter to promote good drainage should we have rain.  There were no floors in the tents so we placed our sleeping bags on top of a poncho laid directly on the ground.

George had a much nicer tent with walls – it was maybe an 8’ x ’10′ canvas tent with tall poles on the ends.  But, like us, George placed his bedroll on the ground with the exception of an inflated rubber air mattress, which none of us were allowed to use.

Earlier, a couple of the older scouts from another troop had encountered a snake while setting up their tents and had elected to kill it rather than simply allow it to slither away.


With a perfectly good dead snake in hand, they decided to play a “joke” on George.  It was not unheard of for rival scout troops to come up with some sort of assassination attempt. .

As soon as George left his tent for the evening campfire, the guys from the rival troop snuck inside and ran a piece of fishing line across the floor of the tent that exited into some nearby Cedar-like shrubbery.  They fastened the dead snake to the opposite end of the fishing line and waited unseen in the brush until George returned to his tent.

They waited several additional minutes after George entered his tent knowing that he would be taking off his clothes before turning out his lantern and hitting the hay for the night.

At what they thought was the perfect moment, the started reeling in the fishing line with the dead snake on the other end.  They began to reel in the line, pulling the snake from under a pile of leaves and under the outside edge of George’s tent.  As the snake slithered across the floor the scouts in the bushes did  all they could to keep from laughing so loud that George would hear them.

Rather than hearing a scream from George, they were startled by gunfire.  Bang, bang, bang in rapid succession.  They quickly pulled the snake out of the tent and into the brush while making a rather quick getaway.  The gunfire was unexpected and had scared the scouts more than the snake did George.

George had with him his .45 semi-automatic pistol – the one he had carried in Korea.  It just so happened that he had the pistol in his hands when the snake came across the floor.

George immediately began firing at the snake, but apparently did not score a hit.  Instead, he put three bullets through his bed roll and rubber air mattress.

It took awhile for the camp to settle down and return to normal.  George slept on the ground that night, just like us, without the comfort of the air mattress.

The guys that had staged the joke would not confess to their deed fearing that if they did George would probably shoot them too.  George told the story of the events so that those not in-the-know believed the serpent was a huge Rattle Snake intent on inflicting a poisonous bite.  He had bravely shot the snake to protect not only himself but all of the scouts as well.

The joke was on the mischief-makers from the other troop.  George became the hero of the Camporee.



2 Responses to “I REMEMBER WHEN…. (Chapter 13 – The Camporee)”
  1. Corey says:

    Hahaha…great story, with a valuable lesson; You never know who is packing heat!

  2. d2reid says:

    Cute story.

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