Six years ago today or thereabouts I was obsessed with bears. My first born baby was going on his first Boy Scout High Adventure wilderness canoeing trip. There were bear bags mentioned for stowage of food at night and sessions where they learned to prevent their clothes or bodies or tent from becoming 'smellables'. They learned how to eat and deal with other 'details' to keep free of the smell of food and things like mint and perfumes that a bear would take as a signal of food. They learned to make a moderate bit of noise while hiking to prevent surprising a bear and they learned never to approach or run from a bear. I woke up around 4 a.m., certain my baby was going to die in the wilderness. Certain. I went out into the backyard in my pajamas and robe and walked around trying to figure out how to tell him he could not go. I eventually realized that if I kept him home, I would save his life and make him hate me forever: This was not a 'no' that we could ever recover from. So I sent him off later that morning and cried all the way back from dropping him off. My friends invited me on outings and took me to lunch and tried to distract me, but there were too many hour in each day for them to cover and so I worried and cried and cried and worried. And worried and cried.
When he returned safe and full of stories some 10 days later, I was so proud of him. The adults had tales of his hard work and maturity and helpfulness while his centered around the fun they'd had paddling and swimming and portaging the canoes through various adverse conditions of trail and weather and the beautiful and amazing sights they had seen. He seemed taller and definitely more grown up, and when I sent him off to summer camp with the rest of the boys a couple weeks later, I missed him almost as much, but I sure didn't worry. Summer camp in Wisconsin was a safe haven at a luxury resort compare to the wilderness he had just returned from where hungry bears roamed freely.
So they both go off again in the morning. The bags are packed and the lists are checked off and the international and local paperwork is done. This is the oldest's seventh summer high adventure and the youngest's fifth. I had the privilege of going with them on two of them and I know they are competent, skilled, and wise young men, and I look forward to their safe return in 10 days! And I look forward to their stories! Paddle safely, men, paddle safely!