There is an annual boy scout campout my troop does every year called Shoebox Campout. Of all the trips that our troops does in the year, this is one of the most challenging. For one weekend, scouts go to an island, and rough it up. However, there is a catch: all the scouts’ gear must be packed in one shoebox. Only one. A regular, foot-long or smaller shoebox. With the exception of our sleeping bags, all of our shelter, clothing, food, cooking gear, tools, and other various items must fit into one shoebox. Okay, challenge accepted.
Being that it was my first time on this type of campout, I was very inexperienced. Each scout had a buddy with which they would both prepare meals and share cooking supplies. Hot food was usually made with pocket rockets: small propane cans with an attachable stovetop on which food is heated.
After waking up from the first night of the campout, it was time to make breakfast. My partner left for a brief moment to go do something, and asked me to heat up the oatmeal we had brought. Okay…seemed simple. I watched other scouts use their pocket rockets and it didn’t seem too hard. Just turn the gas knob, and and put the food on top. I did this, then put the oatmeal on top, and waited for it to cook. 3 minutes passed. No heat. 5 minutes passed. Still no heat. After close to ten minutes I did not understand why my oatmeal was still not warming up. My partner finally came back, and asked about how the cooking was going. I looked at my mix of water and oats, and said the process seemed to be going just a little slow. He looked at it, and said, “There’s no heat coming from it! What did you do?”
“Well,” I said, “I screwed on the stove-top, turned on the gas, then put the oatmeal in the pan…”
“Did you light it?” He said.
There was silence.
“Please tell me you lit the stove?”
“Umm…” I said, “I did not know I had to do that.”
Then he yelled, “So you mean to tell me that my gas has been running for ten minutes straight with no heat, and nothing has been cooked?!? Do you realize how much gas you wasted?”
“Sorry, I really did not know. I was not trying to waste your gas.”
He stomped off angrily. I was really sorry, but there was no way to get his gas back.
I finally lit the stove, but by that time all the scouts were being called to the water to start the Boy Scout Swim Certification process. This ensured that we could swim without adult supervision on a BSA campout. I really needed to go, but my food was not cooked, and I was extremely hungry. So, I did what any desperate person would do. I drank the cold oatmeal/water mixture, gulped it down, and ran to the water. And to my surprise, cold oatmeal was not a bad meal choice. It actually was the tastiest meal I had while on the island. This, of course, had much to do with the fact that I was starving, and anything will taste good when someone is starving.
When I came back home, the first thing I asked my mom is if she had ever tried cold oatmeal in her life, and explained to her how extraordinarily delicious it was. She burst out in laughter. All she could think about was hungry and desperate her poor son was.
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