Last week Man-Child II headed off on his Cadet Bivouac, in the midst of a Melbourne winter, with only the bare essentials in his pack, in true army-camp style. When I say bare essentials, I mean the minimum stuff he needed, compiled at the last-minute by Man-Child II, who resisted taking the recommended clothing allowance for extra warmth (as always). He’s a man-child after all – bred tough, lacking logic, not open to parental advice – perfectly normal really.
When he arrived home my first question was “So how was it?” The response: “Good, but it was FREEZING!” At this point I resisted the urge to run around the house yelling “I told you so” and simply asked (without a hint of smugness I swear) if in retrospect he thought the beanie and gloves and extra jumper would have been useful after all? To my surprise he actually admitted that yes, it would have helped.
First up, they slept in Hutchies – quite literally under a light-weight canvas tarp that probably does nothing except reduce the amount of condensation that settles on those beneath it. As Man-Child II indignantly pointed out to me, it didn’t keep the wind out at all! Nope, it wouldn’t, and we had told our “seasoned” cadet what his “tent” would resemble on camp and he clearly hadn’t listened. Otherwise he might have understood why we were encouraging the extra layers for warmth.
As it turns out, our son was not alone. The entire cadet camp almost froze in the near zero conditions on both nights (at least it didn’t rain). They all resorted to wearing every piece of clothing they had, including army uniform, Japara, and even wrapped towels around their heads under closed sleeping bag hoods, leaving only a slit for they eyes/nose. And they STILL froze. Yep, I guess that beanie and extra jumper and gloves and good Explorer socks (not useless thin sports socks) would have come in handy after all. In retrospect I admit we actually should have given him a warmer sleeping bag. The one he has is a good quality one, very warm, but really you need the ones that keep you warm in the snow-line when you’re out in the elements like this. Isn’t hindsight wonderful!
Apart from the cold, he survived leeches (yuk), night-time forest challenges, rifle training and army ration food. I asked how the food was, he said you would probably get used to powdered milk on your cereal and mushy stew for dinner – everything tastes OK when you’re hungry. But a few days later when I offered him some tasty curry for dinner he said he’d had enough of “stews” for a little while yet. At least he’d had access to a stove on camp (having forgotten to collect one in advance) so he hadn’t had to eat cold stew and uncooked noodles – LOL.
So the moral to the story – men-children don’t listen. Like countless adolescents before them, including yours truly, they learn best through experience, certainly not by being told by an adult what is good for them. That’s part of the fun of growing up I suppose, and part of the fun of being an adult and watching them work it all out for themselves. 🙂
Here’s the lead up to camp: Camping Man-Child Style!