But, back to girl scouting and my misadventures at camp. Just because I had the feeling that I was pushing the limits of good behavior, that didn’t stop me from my pursuit of gender education. I figured that as long as no thunderbolts struck me, I was safe to continue. So I did.
I wasn’t totally alone in my quest all the time. I had a best friend during those grade school years named Johnny. He and I were co-conspiritors in many a misadventure that nowadays would land us in juvenile detention. It’s not that we ever set out to do something naughty (Johnny was an altar boy and choir boy, too), but sometimes we ended up on the wrong side of the behavior line. The greatest coup in my gender education happened with the help and encouragement of Johnny. Or maybe the double dare is what did it. Anyway, I came away with plenty of material for the confessional.
Johnny’s mother was a nurse. One summer the girl scout camp needed a nurse for a couple weeks to fill in for the regular nurse. Johnny’s mom volunteered to fill in and, being the responsible parent she was, realized that leaving her young son home without his mother for two weeks was probably a bad idea. So she dragged him along. And he dragged me along. What are best friends for, after all.
Having a playmate made all the adventures in the woods just that much more exciting. Two conniving minds can come up with any number of activities that one alone wouldn’t think of or actually do. But that second imagination easily more than doubled the mischief to be gotten into. Where one boy alone might talk himself out of a certain adventure, the goading and daring that accompanies a playmate every bit as sneaky as the other, means naughty takes on a whole new meaning.
Johnny was an instigator, a provacateur of the highest order. At that stage in my young life I was easily led and influenced by his stronger leadership skills. And his imagination was a bit more advanced than mine. Where I was content to hide under the tent platforms and take my chances, he was more proactive, ready to drill peepholes in the floorboards and create well positioned rips in the tent fabric. Only my reluctance to perpetrate such obvious felonies kept us from eventual condemnation to hell.
I wasn’t totally reluctant to participate in all his suggestions, though. While I might have been a bit more timid, when he came up with the tree climbing idea to create a lookout post, I was the first one up the tree. Remember that swimming pool mentioned earlier? It was situated among the trees in a clearing created specifically for it. The pool being surrounded by woods, there were numerous climbing trees available to the adventurous that provided lines of vision that made spying easy. And we weren’t just spying on the pool itself. That would be boring. But the fact that there was a changng room next to the pool that was for some inexplicable reason left roofless, was what motivated our tree climbing.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. Simple geometry entered into our calculations about which tree to climb, although we had no idea what geometry was yet. Quick intuitive calculations told us which tree was tall enough to afford a sightline over the 8’ walls of the changing room. As fate and the devil would have it, that tree was eminately climbable and offered perfect cover for two small boys intent on spying. You might call it peeping and privacy invasion, but we were 7 years old and curiosity trumps privacy every time at that age.
We were lucky that at the time of our tree-perch-spying, the camp was occupied by a troop of 12 to 14 year old girl scouts. Girls at that age have attributes that are fascinating for the mostly innocent, unschooled, prepubescent boy. But even at that age, despite our innocence, we were quite certain that all those bodily bumps and curves were in the right places and meant for something wonderful, although we weren’t quite sure what the “wonderful” was just yet.
Good luck was our companion then. We were lucky to find the perfect perch and more lucky never to get caught doing our spying. To this day when I think of girl scouting , I think of scouting girls. And thankfully, that early visual sex education had the advantage of preparing me for the onslaught of puberty. As I got older and closer to my own sexual awareness, my earlier spying provided the information that was so difficult to come by in those days. I had a pretty good idea what all those girls had hidden under those clothes, so I didn’t need to do any more spying, to satisfy that natural curiosity. Any spying that occurred after the onset of puberty was commanded not by curiosty, but by lust. But that’s another story.
And yes, I did go to confession. I’m still doing the penance meted out by Father in the confessional.