Random Recollections—A messy first

10 May 2009 by Jim Gibbons, 4 Comments »

I’ll kick things off with this little comic strip illustrating this memory and then delve into the story behind it…

"Aw, poop." (Click comic strip to enlarge it)

"Aw, poop." (Click comic strip to enlarge it)

When your 11 years old, the brain doesn’t foresee a number of things, especially when it comes to events that will later make for embarrassing stories. In this case, my noggin didn’t really work when it came to my first “number two” in the great outdoors.

At Camp Shewahmegon, every cabin went on a few trips each summer. These were overnight outings that usually lasted two nights where a cabin group would head off to some remote campsite or on a journey down a river, sleeping out in tents and cooking over fires instead of sleeping in our cabins back at camp and eating in the dining hall. My first summer at camp was back in ’95 and that summer my cabin’s first trip was to an island on Lake Owen (the lake camp was located on) named Carter’s Island. We packed up a few days worth of clothes while our tripper (an extra staff member whose main job is to get things in order for trips and, to a degree, to act as a second counselor while the cabin group is away from camp) secured us tents and food for the duration, and we canoed the few miles down the lake to our home for the next couple of days.

Once we got to the island, it wasn’t long before I had to make a bathroom run of less liquid and more solid variety: poop. I’d never gone in the woods before and really had no idea as to how it would be done. Sure, it seems simple when you’re old enough to have seen enough poop-humor comedies and Discovery channel programs, but I honestly don’t remember having the slightest clue as to how I could drop a log outdoors—save that it must involve some sort of squatting and the pulling down of my pants. So, I asked for a little advice from my counselor, heard leaning up against a tree would be a good move and ventured into the woods with a roll of TP (toilet paper) and a shovel.

After walking clear of the campsite and finding a sturdy tree, I dug a small hole at its base, plunged the shovel in the ground out of the way and propped up against the tree. I pulled my teal Nike swim trunks down to my ankles, tried to relax and focus on doing my thing. I few pushes and grit teeth later, and I had a swimsuit full of brown matter.

I leaned against the tree, but hadn’t squat enough to get my legs and ankle-level shorts far enough away from the drop zone.

Bad, right?! Well, it gets better…or, rather, worse. In my embarrassed haste to clean up the mess, I dropped the roll of TP into my messy shorts—which is extra bad as camping trip supplies normally only have a limited amount of bathroom tissue.

So, not sure what to do, I hobbled back to the campsite with my filthy pants at my ankles. My calls for help and advice were met with exasperated yells from my counselor to get into the lake (which we were completely surrounded by on our island campground) and clean myself off. I made my way to the lake, stumbling down a muddy hill in the process and dirtying myself even more before finally getting in the water and soaping off myself and my shorts.

That was a mistake I only made once in my days at camp, because a surprise like that in your shorts is a pretty good motivator to get it right next time.

Confession time: Though I cleaned myself up, there was no way to salvage the TP and I knew ruining half our stock—especially with over half the trip left to go—would be a little harder to forgive than my personal mess. So, I removed as much stained TP as I could, and brought the dirty roll back to the campsite. It wasn’t until my counselor had to poo that the messy paper was found. However, Brian Swan had gone in between my incident and my counselor’s potty trip so he caught the brief verbal assault as I looked on, not fessing up to my part in the TP mess. Now, 13 years later I confess: It was me.

Man, it feels good to come clean!

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  1. david1will says:

    This was one of the best memories I have heard about #2 in a long time. I felt it appropriate to share my memories about #4… stall #4 in the green latrine.
    Besides the abundant northern Wisconsin woods, there were two “designated” bathrooms in Camp Shewahmegon: the green and brown latrine. Unlike most modern bathrooms, the stalls of the green and brown latrine had no doors on them. Furthermore, the stall walls in the green latrine were not terribly long, so your legs always stuck out a few inches. Instead of a bathroom community built on common shame of doing your business in public, we boys and men made a community of joy and celebration. With our pants around our ankles, we chatted about anything that came to our heads: the daily events, a new joke or story, and even congratulating friends for their invigorating sounds and smells that they were contributing to the conversation.
    In the green latrine, there were five stall in a row. Everyone had their own favorite stall, and mine was number 4. Stall 1 was way to out in the open. You had the cross traffic of folks entering the latrine, along with the urinal conversations next door. I hardly used number 1 unless I was in a real pinch. 2 and 3 were some better. The problem with 2 was the toilet itself. There was something wrong it, either it got clogged a lot or was too tall. 3 was fine, except you were right in the middle of the action, to have a conversation with everyone around you, you had to always turn your head back and forth. For me 4 was the perfect spot. It had a great height and feel to it along with a good location with respect to conversation and traffic.
    All in all, I miss the group BM. Nothing relaxes your colon like good friends and good conversations. Three cheers to the green latrine!

  2. Jim Gibbons says:

    Man, I could fill a blog with just my poop stories from camp. So, if that strikes your fancy, stay tuned! I have so many more!

    The group poops of camp led me to buddy poop with numerous amigos in High School. I once found a bomb threat graphitti-scrawled in the stall during a HS buddy poop, but that is a story for another time.

  3. Phil Buchan says:

    The green latrine had many traditions. One of the greatest was the so-called “royal flush:” all five of the stalls filled (a true “royal” flush would require them all to be staff, cabin counselors or above), with all five flushing the toilets in unison.

  4. Jim Gibbons says:

    The Royal Flush… classic! I think I may have a photo of a Royal Flush after the banquet meal towards the end of camp. Well, it’s a photo of five people in their whites with their heads popping out of the stalls. I’ll see if I can track it down!

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