12 November 2019

Bess Tuggle's Memoirs of Surviving Children: It's Chili Time!

It’s finally that time of the year again. It’s CHILI TIME!!!

I make a mean pot of chili. My husband does, too. House rules when either of us is cooking at home: Don’t ask, don’t tell. But the -best- chili you could ever put in your mouth is Cub Scout Chili.

We did a lot of camping when my boys were little. We tried to put enough camp outs on the calendar so that everyone could participate in at least one. Some were pretty close by for those with very young ones so if they needed to bail, they could. Others were farther away, for new adventures, and just a couple trips that were on the pricey side. Not everyone could afford the latter, but it was a well-rounded calendar. A Scout leader had to attend each one, so I was “volun-told” on a regular basis.

Cub Scout Chili only came out when it got chilly and the camping trip wasn’t too far from home. But it was worth braving the cold for. Cub Scout Chili is -special-! One member would bring, for want of a better description, a huge, caste iron “witch’s cauldron.” Each family would bring what they would usually cook when making chili for their family, and into the pot it went where it was cooked over an open fire. To add to the excitement, one member would bring a cleaned (not cooked) deer leg to stir it with. We knew the chili was ready when all the meat cooked off the deer leg. Let the feast begin! If there were any leftovers, cold chili for breakfast is the -bomb-. Kinda like left- over pizza, but better.

Most of the parents and their kids went to their tents at sunset for a well-deserved break, aka: exhaustion. But there were a few of us die-hards that liked to sit around the campfire until much later. There really wasn’t a lot of talking, just enjoying warmth of the fire, and the beautiful view of the stars without light pollution from a city.

We all ate well and played hard, but wouldn’t you know it?!? There were goblins, ghouls and ghosts in the forest that only came out when the sun went down. I’m sure the Goat-Man was out there on more than one occasion.

On one memorable camping trip we heard a bear in the woods. Not just any old bear, but a -huge- one that seemed to be on a mission. The roars got closer and closer. Off in the distance they were easy to dismiss, but as the bear approached the camp site it got louder and scarier.

Parents, leaders, and kids alike and awake, all jumped up in a panic. The bear was between cars just outside the viewing area illuminated by the campfire. He sounded huge and -hungry-! Those already in their tents were abandoned to their fate, and the few that stayed up were making bee-lines to their cars. Parents, grabbing their children, ran into each other in panic over and over… It was complete and total chaos!!!
By the sounds of this bear, even being in a car was no real protection.

Finally, I guess the bear decided to give up. There were too many kids to choose from for his supper, and Cub Scout Chili was tastier. It just hit the spot.

I’m pretty sure the bear and the Goat Man are friends. They’re out in the woods just -waiting- for their next meal or child to frighten, so until they find their next victim – stay safe, and remember they’re always watching.

Disclaimer: No children were injured during this camping trip. Several adults suffered stomach muscle issues from laughing too hard, and shoulder issues from running into each other in attempts to save their children. The only fatality was a coffee can. Simple bear calls can made from a metal coffee can and a piece of wet, cotton cord.