Friday, November 12, 2010

A Father/Son Secret

The YMCA has a fantastic program designed to build the relationship between father and son. It was once called the "Indian Guides Program" but due to political pressures, I think they have since dropped the word Indian and just called it Guides. Nonetheless, I was once in the guides with my son and as part of the experience, we would go camping twice per year.

The Jacksonville Guides program is huge so there were no less than 200 dads and sons at the campgrounds for the big 'Pow Wow' (Indian word for campout?).

As usual, the dads sit around and drink 'fire water' at night and go canoeing, shoot bb-guns, archery etc. in the day with the boys. We camped at a place called Camp Immokalee, that's an Indian word which loosely translates to "dry sandy campsite with dried up lake bed".

It was customary on one of the nights for our Federation to organized a big scavenger hunt. This consisted of cordoning off a big part of the common areas of the campground with yellow ribbon. This area was then scattered with various trinkets of about the same quality as crap you get out of a box of cereal. Included in this area however they also hide three arrow heads; a red one, a blue one and a white one.

Now keep in mind that this all takes place at around 9:30 at night. The campground is pitch black, save a few camp fires in the distance. At precisely 9:30 the boys gather around the perimeter of the taped off area with a flashlight in their hand, the flashlight is off. At the sound of a whistle, the kids turn on their flashlights, rip down the ribbon and run around like banshees picking up trinkets but also looking for the coveted arrowheads. The child that finds an arrowhead will have an opportunity to turn that in for a BIG prize in the morning.  Typically it is a bike, remote control vehicle, etc.

Now that you have the history, this is where things get interesting. Seeing that we are at our SECOND camping trip, my son was less than enthusiastic about the hunt. I can still recall the disappointment on his face when he did NOT find an arrowhead and did NOT get to exchange it for a big remote control truck last year. Things would be different - this year I had a plan.

At about 9:15 the evening of the scavenger hunt I found my son standing near the fire throwing sticks in it (a male right of passage).  Our conversation went like this:

Me: "Hey buddy, it's time for the treasure hunt, go get your flashlight."
He returns with his only flashlight. A small plastic frog.  When you squeezed the legs together the mouth opens and a faint excuse of a yellow light shines from its mouth. His shoulders are slumped, he's already a broken man.

Son: "Ok Dad I'm guess I'm ready for the treasure hunt."

Me: "Not so fast, do you have the flashlight?"
Son: "Yes sir."

Me: "Let's see it."
Son: "I brought my frog one."

Me: "Well I bought you a new one!"
Son: "You did! Where is it?"
Me: "Hang on." (I go get it from the van - below is what I handed him - a 1,000,000 candle what cordless flashlight).

Son: "It's big, is it really mine?" (I'm about to cry I'm so happy right now)
Me: "Yup and here's what you're going to do. When they blow the whistle turn it on, but instead of shining the ground and looking for the arrowheads, take few minutes to shine it around in the eyes of the other boys."

Son: "But dad, if I do that they can't see."
Me: "Yes, and if they can't see you'll be the only one to find the arrowheads." (HE GRINS EAR TO EAR)

Son: "Dad, is this going to be another one of those things that we don't tell mom?"
Me: "You learn fast let's go!"

He wound up finding two arrowheads and gave one to his best friend. They both got a gigantic remote control dump-truck/digging thing.

No more sad-face puppy dog eyes for my boy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

brilliant! was hoping to come across this blog again.