I never really cared for ghost stories. The idea of telling spooky stories while sitting around a campfire seemed silly to me. Either the story would be weak or badly told and, therefore, of little consequence, or the tale would scare the crap out of you. The former, a waste of time. The later, extremely unpleasant. So where was I? I was sitting on a log while R.J. told a ghost story.
R.J. is Alissa’s eight year old and this was his first Cub Scout overnight. He was given the opportunity to pick anyone to accompany him. Surprisingly, he chose me.
I hadn’t expected R.J. to ask me to go with him because, frankly, I’m not the camping type. My idea of roughing it is staying at a Holiday Inn. His father, however, had been an Eagle Scout. Alissa’s dad had been through this with both of her brothers. Both Alissa’s ex and her father were far more qualified. But, R.J. asked me and I had quickly accepted.
Though R.J. was amongst the youngest of the Cubs, he was the first to tell a story. R.J. then sat on my lap as one by one the rest of the Scouts took a turn. There wasn’t a shiver or even a cringe until Ben, one of the dads, took a turn. With a serious voice he spun a tale of snakes, dogs, abandoned houses and, well, you know, all the stuff that makes for a scary story. He managed to spook several of the boys and succeeded in proving my point.
As I reassured R.J. and another Cub that Ben had made up his story, I realized how many ghosts were sitting on these logs with our dozen scouts. They were the ghosts of missing fathers. Four of our boys had been accompanied by their mothers. R.J. and Louis were with neither birth parent. These boys had been holding back. Many of them could tell stories that could make grown men shake in broad daylight. And their stories would be true.
The boys were too tired to worry about ghosts. Thanks to a half a mile hike from the parking lot to the cabin, we had each walked over ten miles this day. Our basketball games also contributed to their exhaustion and two of the boys had had hockey earlier in the day. By 10:30 they were ready to climb into their cots.
Anyone who has children knows that just because the boys were ready to go to bed doesn’t mean that they were ready to go to sleep. It only took about a half an hour to get everyone’s teeth brushed and sleeping bags zipped up. We tucked our boys in and then escaped to the serenity of the campfire.
The sun and the boys all rose about two hours earlier than necessary. By 10:30 we had packed our cars, cleaned the cabin and were ready to leave. R.J. and his friend, Nicholas, were still discussing the ghost stories. By now they had decided that Ben’s story wasn’t real. But that was okay. Their only complaint was that we had stayed for just one night.