The Men Of 47 Take On A “Negative Mountain”
King of the Hill is a fairly simple game.
By that I mean the basic rules and such. You fight your way to the top, knock everyone else off and become King of the Hill. Ta da!
It is a game that mirrors life. At first glance, it seems the biggest always wins. No matter how hard you try, that giant is up there waiting. You struggle and claw your way uphill. Finally you reach the top, you square off against that giant – and are knocked back down yet again.
To win, you realize you need help. So you form alliances – you find your “Sams.” And together, you claw your way back up, but this time with those Sams beside you. And together, you defeat that giant. You reach that goal. You are King of the Hill.
This past weekend was the last campout for the season for the Men of 47. My last weekend as cubmaster. Somewhat bittersweet.
The parents of, and the Men of, Pack 47 were all there. Our final hurrah.
There were hikes to hike, food to eat, tents to pitch, games to play, bugs to squash, sticks to throw.
But there was no hill. And with no hill, no king.
This did not deter the Men of 47. They just flipped the dog.
You see, while there was no hill, there was a ditch. Rather, a somewhat large crater. Or, as a good friend put it, a “nega-pile.” The Men of 47 could stand at the bottom of that crater and the top was above their head. Twenty to 25 feet or so in diameter. A nice ditch. Basically, a perfect inverted cone.
But it was rather difficult to be king of the ditch, because simple momentum meant everyone would congregate at the bottom. And it’s rather difficult, if not impossible, to push others out of a ditch. What to do?
Ever been on one of those rides at a carnival that illustrates centrifical force? Basically, a large circular ride where everyone puts their backs against the wall and the ride starts to spin. Faster and faster and then all of a sudden, the floor starts to lower. But you remain stuck to that wall. The spinning motion keeps you from falling, even though your feet are no longer touching.
That somewhat became the game. One of the Men would start running around the ditch in a circular motion, soon joined by others. And they would run around and around until finally couldn’t keep going and would end up in the ditch. I’m not really sure what the point was, or how you determined who won or was “king.”
But maybe that was the point. It wasn’t about winning. It was about running around in circles. Now at first glance, that would seem to miss the point. Aren’t we all tired of running around in circles? But again, sometimes we need to just flip the dog. Sometimes, when the point is to have fun, running in circles is okay.
So there was no king. But there were a couple of rules; rules dictated by the dads. The primary one being everyone had to run in the same direction. This was simply because we got tired of the Men coming up with tears in their eyes and snot coming out their noses because they did a direct face plant with another kid because they were going in opposite directions and at some point, two opposing forces going in opposite directions will eventually meet.
I am not really one for showers while camping. It’s camping, let the smells come. But in this instance, exceptions were made. Georgia is known for its red clay. It also, as it turns out, has orange clay. And said orange clay was located in the aforementioned nega-pile.
People will spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours hitting tanning booths for that perfect bronze spray-on tan. The Men of 47 got that tan for free, while playing.
They’d come out of the nega-pile with this orange hue. The only thing missing was a surfboard. California dreaming.
Problem was two-fold. Said orange dirt rubbed off on everything they touched – clothes, pillows, sleeping bags. And the orange hue was more of an Oompa Loompa hue – from the original Willie Wonka movie.
There were lots of showers taken. And we dads ordered the nega-pile closed before dark each night, simply because all the towels were turning orange.
There were no electronics that weekend; no comfort zone of iPods or whatever.
There was no king.
But there was imagination. And the Men of 47 used theirs. They simply looked around, saw what was available, and used what resources there were to have fun.
And I would call that a success.