Photo by David Banuelos

Hiraeth Excerpt (Interlude: Outdoor School)

The following is an excerpt of:

Hiraeth: 

The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Interlude: Outdoor School

For years, he had been hearing about it, counting down the time until he himself could go. Every spring, he would watch the older kids get on a bus and not come back until sometime later on that week. It was a fourth grade tradition, and he was finally old enough to actually participate. At first, his mother was unsure if he was well enough to go, but two weeks of constant high-pitched whining did more to sway her than her own doubts could. It was then that he discovered one of his most powerful abilities: winning by default. He still had to choose his battles carefully, for this tactic wouldn’t work for every situation, but if he wanted to be somewhere and his mother was on the fence, all he had to do was make sure she knew that her life would run much smoother if she simply let him go. This, of course, came to a head in June of 1997, resulting in a three-and-a-half-year stretch which would define him well into the furthest reaches of adulthood, but in the Spring of 1990, it simply meant that he could go with all the other kids to the retreat on the Olympic Peninsula and learn arts and crafts while hanging out in nature.

Naturally, the camps were subdivided from within each class, so once again, he wasn’t paired with Arthur, but he did manage to wind up sharing a group and cabin with Dave Banuelos, so at least he had one friend with him. The first day was spent dividing them into groups, laying down the ground rules, and showing them their cabins before settling in for dinner and ghost stories around a campfire. Despite this busy schedule, a couple of the groups of boys decided to band together and launch a raid upon the cabins just down the way, which were inhabited by the girls. Had they been older, perhaps something of a romantic nature might have been intended, but as no one there, besides the teachers and the counselors was above the age of ten, the most they did was start a pinecone war (which they somehow managed to lose).

Having been soundly defeated and driven off, the boys (Batmart, Banuelos, and Arthur among them) were rounded up and reminded that such shenanigans would not be tolerated. Of course, this meant that the pinecone wars were to continue, with the boys and girls exchanging raids for the duration of their stay.

The first night, after the campfire had burned down, and the boys were trying to fall asleep, they became aware that their Counselor, Carlos, had wandered off into the darkness. It wasn’t until the second evening that discovered where he’d gone, and more importantly: why. The counselors were High Schoolers, and Carlos had gone to spend some time with one of the Girls’ Counselors, who may or may not have been his girlfriend. Carlos defended himself, by saying that he was only trying to gather intelligence about the girls’ defenses, but Batmart knew better, for he too had kissed a girl.

The week flew by in a series of unnecessary activities, most of which Batmart wasn’t all too thrilled about having to join in on. On the final night, they presented awards, both in their groups, and as unified class. They also presented skits, which were nearly as awkward as one could imagine, being a combination of fourth grade talent encouraged by teenage sensibilities. Tex never could recall what the official point of the whole thing had been, but he always remembered how much fun he had, and how sad he was to see it end as he climbed aboard the bus and they drove out of the woods and back to their regular lives again.

 

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