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LIVING LARGE AT CAMP TUSCARORA

The words "summer camp" conjure up all kinds of images. For some reason, I can't help but think about Jim Varney in "Ernest Goes to Camp". Many adults have memories (good or bad) of summer camp experiences in some sheltered wilderness. For me, it was good ole Camp Tuscarora.

After advancing through the ranks of Cub Scouts and Webelos, my friends and I felt like adults. And with advancing rank, came advancing perks. Instead of attending "day camp", we were headed for the official Boy Scout Summer Camp; eight days away from home. No rules, just fun and playtime in the woods. Man, were we wrong.

You should have seen us when we first arrived. We were 10 years old, pretending to be 30. We were armed with shiny new pocket knives, army surplus mess kits, compasses, hatchets, flint/steel, water canteens, and sleeping bags- all crammed into a backpack better suited for someone twice our height. We looked like a little army of miniature Rambo impersonators. Of course, Rambo probably never wore 10 gallons of "Off". Do you remember "Off"? It was the bug spray of choice for concerned parents. Each scout was instructed to apply this magical ointment generously, lest we all contract Malaria from the mosquito infested waters of Camp Tuscarora. An over-protective parent is a strange creature indeed.

Anyway, we were soon to discover that camping wasn't quite as glamorous as it seemed in the movies. Our first hint came when assignments were made for latrine duty. This rather dismal job usually fell to the first year scouts. After all, someone had to make sure the campsite stayed clean and healthy.

If you were lucky, you were assigned to "ground survey" duties. This consisted mainly of checking our little A-frame tents for snakes. The ground was our "floor", so it was quite easy for invading reptiles to sneak into the tent at night- not a pleasant thought. And there were plenty of other tasks to be completed. Firewood had to be chopped, shelters constructed, and merit badge requirements fulfilled. I realize now that our leaders were simply doing a little bit of "character building", but it sure seemed like a lot of work at the time.

Of course, the weather played a big role in summer camp. Usually held in June, temperatures often soared into the 90's. And summertime thunderstorms were always a possibility. Our leaders constantly explained proper procedures and safety to be followed when storms threatened. Remember, back then we didn't have the Internet and mobile devices. You had to use your eyes and instincts. The only time most people saw a radar display was on the 6 o'clock news. And in the woods, nobody had a TV.

Speaking of mobile devices, our new StormTrack 3 mobile app is now available for iphone, ipad, and Android users (details at wwaytv3.com). The app is free, and contains interactive radar and forecasts for any location of your choice. You can even track severe storms, snow totals, and tropical activity. With the StormTrack 3 mobile app, you can track storms on your next camping trip.

But you still can't track snakes with it...

(Send comments or questions to Jerry: jjackson@wwaytv3.com)

By: Jerry Jackson