Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Camp Story

In the middle fifth grade year, I was given a chance to attend a four-day camp alongside approximately 80% of my classmates. We took a fleet of buses to the middle of nowhere (Oklahoma), and the 100 or so of us stayed in cabins with volunteer parents or teachers that had come on the trip with us.

The cabins were large, rustic-looking buildings with four sets of bunk beds in them, meant to house one parent and seven kids. Our "parent" was the father of one of those seven, Kyle, and was a nice man that let us stay up past our allowed bedtimes and play card games with each other.

Aside #1: I specifically remember thinking it was really, really cool that he let us play "Bullshit," even though we had to shorten it to "BS." Even saying the abbreviation made all feel awesome.

I was lucky enough to be one of the kids given a top bunk, for reasons I can't remember (I'm sure we had to draw straws or something), a treat that was sought after in the mindset of my grade.

Anyways, the day after our first night of settling in, the real fun began. Over the next two days, we would play with snakes, practice archery, look at constellations in the sky, and did plenty of other camp-related activities that seemed incredibly exciting at the time.

Aside #2: I'd probably still get excited over archery and snakes, I won't lie to you.

Then, on the third day, we went on our first nature hike. The teachers, camp counselors and parents told us that they were combining our cabins into three large groups, and that we would each be cycling through the three trails the camp had to offer.

So our groups headed off in different directions, counselors leading the pack and telling the first two-thirds of the kids that could hear them all about how neat the wilderness was. I couldn't hear anything, because I was the last person in the massive line, but I enjoyed the walk all the same.

That was, until I felt the all-too familiar sensation of needing to urinate. Badly. Waddling towards the middle of the line where a teacher was stationed, I pulled her aside and explained my issue. She told me to follow the trail that we were on back to the cabins, go to the bathroom, and wait there to join up with them.

Following a trail backwards is simple enough, right? Apparently not. It didn't take five minutes before a combination of my overt curiosity with nature and direction-less being found me lost in the middle of the woods with no one around and nowhere to pee.

I started freaking out, which is exactly what you don't want to do when you have to urinate so bad your stomach hurts. Then I began running aimlessly towards what I thought was the camp, which is the absolute worst thing you can do in the same case.

My panicking plus the jarring motions of running equaled one thing: emptying my entire bladder into my pants with no control over the situation at all.

Aside #3: You might ask why I didn't just zip my fly down and pee out. Well, I was in the fifth grade. I'd just got over my fear of peeing while standing up next to a toilet, I wasn't about to do it in the middle of the woods where someone might see my teeny-tiny junk.

I had no idea what to do with myself. So I kept walking (not running) in the direction I thought camp was in, hoping to get back and change before my hiking group had returned.

A few minutes later, I arrived. The grounds were completely deserted, so I made my way to our cabin and walked in. Stripping my urine-soaked pants, underwear and socks off, I stepped into the bathroom and washed my legs off as much as I could using the sink.

Aside #4: Our cabins only had a sink and toilet, the showers were elsewhere.

Once I felt I had done well enough, I put clean clothes on and looked at my pile of soaked clothes that sat in front of me. Rather than wash them in the sink like a normal person would, I instead opted to hang them all from the rafters above my bed, hoping that they would dry out before we'd return that night.

I stepped outside just as the three groups were arriving at the central campgrounds to swap trails. Re-joining my group, I continued throughout the day as if nothing had happened, with thoughts of my pee-soaked pants lingering in the back of my mind.

When my cabin-mates, our "parent" and I all arrived at the cabin that night, everyone stepped into the room only to have their nostrils assaulted with the smell of putrid, stale urine. Immediately, Kyle's dad called a camp counselor and discreetly told him that "one of the kids must have wet the bed last night" and that the cabin smelled absolutely vile. I didn't tell him what had really happened.

The counselor then told us all to pack up our things, and said that we'd be moving to a different cabin since this one was clearly uninhabitable. As I packed, I thought quickly and stuffed the offensive-smelling clothes into the very bottom of my bag, where the smell no longer affected the air outside of it.

Soon after, rumors started circulating around the camp about who in our cabin had committed the heinous act of peeing the bed, and one of the seven that wasn't me was eventually singled out as the offender. He was alienated for the rest of the trip, and made fun of relentlessly for something he didn't do. Again, I never said a word suggesting that I had anything to do with it.

So I write this as an admission. An admission that I, Tyler Walters, pissed my pants at camp in the fifth grade and let another boy take the fall for it. I'm sorry, boy whose name I forgot, for all of the pain I may have caused you. It wasn't my intention, and I sure hope you didn't end up shooting a bunch of people years later because of it.

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