Summer Reading

The lake at Camp Powhatan.

Later this morning I’ll be driving an SUV-load of Boy Scouts out to Camp Powhatan, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia.  The drive may not be fun – especially if I get the squirmy new kids or some boys who don’t like my flavor of rock and roll radio – but camp itself is my vacation.  The boys are responsible for getting themselves to and from their merit badge classes – we see them at meals, and in the evening if they aren’t out calling owls or looking for frogs and other nocturnal amphibians.  Somebody else cooks (and I don’t care if the only lettuce I get for a week is shredded iceberg).  There isn’t much cleaning to do.  The showers are hot and my sleeping bag is warm on a cool mountain night.

Why DID the blacksnake cross the road? We didn't know. But a boy stood in each lane of the camp road to make sure it got to the other side.

My only responsibilities will be to attend a leaders’ meeting daily and to help out if one of the boys needs medical attention or has a board of review for his next rank.  I may even get to see a snake or two in its natural habitat (though I won’t be sad if the rattlesnakes stay up in the rocks on the ridge and leave the campsites to the blacksnakes).

The Adirondack-style Scoutmasters’ Lounge (no boys allowed!) has a big stone fireplace, deep leather chairs, perpetual coffee, and a deck with rocking chairs overlooking the woods above the lake.  If I need fresh air and sunshine, I have a new picnic blanket and a new roll-up stadium type chair that will go anywhere I want to go.  My reading glasses (regular, and tinted for reading in the sun).  My little reading folio, with stickies and flags, a highlighter and pens, my double-entry journal, and a little book light that’s perfect for reading in the tent at night.  And because I’m an adult, I’m taking my iPod.  I can tune up some bluegrass or some mountain gospel, and I won’t even hear those old snakes sneaking up on me.

Best of all, I’m finally going to have time to attack the Tin House summer reading issue and the latest issue of Glimmer Train.  I’ve got my 2010 New Stories from the South – and will have time to write up the two posts on Tim Gautreaux’s “Idols” and Ann Pancake’s “Arsonists” that I’ve been trying to get to for two weeks, even if I can’t send them for another week.

Whitewater rafting on the New River in WV, Camp Powhatan 2010

There may or may not be wi-fi this year – last year it was pretty screwed up – so I may be unplugged for a week. That could be a good thing, though.

Better finish packing.  See y’all next week, unless they fixed the camp wi-fi!

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About readersquest

I'm a retired naval officer and writer. I live with my husband, two sons, and several family pets in a house in the woods.
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