No, I haven't been hiking the Appalachian Trail or, for that matter, the Finger Lakes Trail. I have been working for Outward Bound. The organization that I have come to love and mis-trust. More on that topic soon.
For now, I can add a funny and heartwarming story:
Tyrell Cherry, super cute tiny african american kid from Philadelphia. Goes off to the bathroom on a particularly cold day during lunch. Comes back with the bathroom bag (which has toilet paper and a small shovel inside) and drops it in the middle of the lunch circle. As he turns to get into his backpack, we all begin to notice that he has some t.p. hanging out of his pants waistband. My co-instructor: "Uh, Tyrell, you...have, you've....got..." The rest of the group: Giggles turn into full-blown-laughter-eruption, "YOOO!!! Man you got toilet paper hangin' outcha butt!!!" "Dude!!" Poor little Tyrell is embarrassed but suprisingly resilient. Tyrell: "yeah, thats mine, must have got stuck" After a few moments of everyone picking on the poor kid goes by(I generally add that this type of thing could happen to any one of us) we begin to notice something creeping its way out of the toilet bag. Sure enough, Tyrell had also put his used t.p. back in the toilet paper bag. This bag is considered a piece of gear that is carried along with us and used by everyone in the group. The point that is stressed here is that one should not contaminate the toilet bag with their own mess. Yikes, I guess me and my co-instructor have room for improvement here. So we fix Tyrell up with two sticks to chop-stick-style-lift the t.p. paper into our new garbage bag created just for the mess. I think, hmm, wonder how many other people are making this mistake and proceed to ask everyone if they have any hidden dirty t.p. paper in their bags that we should know about. This would be a great time to get rid of such an unnecessary item.
As we're cleaning up from lunch yet another item is found on the ground that causes me concern and focuses my attention to our very unique and lovable Tyrell Cherry. A pair of mini boxer briefs, grey, Hanes brand. No name written on the inside, some overly cautious parents will take that extra measure. The same sanitary-lifting-implements are put to work once again in hoisting the briefs into plain view and asking, "does anyone know whose these are?" Most students turn and face the briefs and die laughing. "Yo, man, whose draws?!" "Tyyyyyrell, getcher draws!!" Tyrell furrows his brow and inspects the waist band of the "draws". Tyrell: "does it say 12-14 on it, cause if so they are mine...I don't see it...are they mine?" Tyrell speaks in a very proper English, more so than most students we have at his age. Me: "Tyrell, I think they're yours. Bud, does that mean you're not wearing a pair?" Tyrell: "No, I have a pair on." Me: "Are you sure? You'd better double check" One detail I've left out is that Tyrell had put on his grey Outward Bound issue long under wear and proceeded to wear only a red winter cap, those wooly mittens, the grey long underwear, and some work boots. He looked, at all times on the course, like he should be opening presents on Christmas morning minus the perpetual hot-cocoa mustache. He was adorable.
So, Tyrell roots around at his waistline with his mittened hands to get into his long underwear and check if he was wearing his boxer-briefs. Sure enough! He was. Now the real question remains, how did those underwear get onto the ground in the middle of the lunch circle anyway?
These things are locked away forever into the Outward-Bound-student-vault-of-things-that-will-never-be-easily-explained. Mainly because, I think, kids are just nuts!