Gus just completed his annual week in the mountains at summer Boy Scout Camp. I don’t know exactly how many Scout Troops were there this year, but there sure were a lot of uninformed Scouts on that mountain. I haven’t seen that much Khaki since the last clearance sale at the GAP. As usual, he had a great time at camp (mainly because no one nagged him to take a shower). He hiked, swam, started fires (mostly campfires), OD’d on slushies and candy bars from the snack bar and worked on merit badge requirements.
My wife and I go up to Scout Camp on Friday night for the big family Campfire. They serve the parents and families a barbecued chicken dinner and then everyone enjoys the big campfire with awards and skits and songs – it’s really a fun night. The drive up to Scout Camp is about an hour. My wife and I were getting ready to head up to camp when the phone rang. I picked up and heard, “Dad? It’s me.” Glad he identified himself, because I have no other children and this voice on the phone sounded like James Earl Jones mumbling into a pillow. Why do teenagers all mumble? That, I think, is an entire post of its own. Anyway, the strange thing was he left earlier in the week with a boy’s voice; higher pitched and youthful. What I heard at the end of the week was low…really low – no cracking, no warbling, no Peter Brady screeching – just low. “Who is this and what have you done with Gus!?!” I asked. “Ha-ha, just stop it dad, are you coming up for the campfire tonight?” I told him we’d be there in about an hour. And so we were.
When we finally got to the campsite and talked with Gus he told us about his “Speece” award (a fun award meant to recognize each Scout for something memorable that happened to them during the week).
Gus: I got the “Tick Magnet” award
Me: Chick Magnet award? How do you get that at BOY SCOUT CAMP? What merit badges were you working on again?
Gus: Not CHICK MAGNET…TICK MAGNET.
I wasn’t sure which award one made me more nervous.
“I got three tick bites this week,” he said, “one here, one here and one here.” With that, he lifted his shirt and showed us. Near his armpit he had a large red mark which appeared to be swollen. “Oh my goodness,” my wife gasped. “Don’t worry,” Gus said, “I went to sick bay and they said it was okay- it just broke a blood vessel or something.” I told him we’d better monitor it because of the chance of Lyme disease. He just rolled his eyes, which is teenager for “Dad’s an idiot.”
Once back home, that red spot turned into a welt. We called the doc who told us we need not worry unless he get’s the infamous bull’s eye rash and a fever. He didn’t, but after a week, he was complaining of headaches, a stiff neck and muscles, and was more lethargic than usual (too tired to shower? what a surprise). Then we noticed the welt had morphed into a large rash – not a bull’s eye – just a rash. My wife took him to the Doc’s the next day. Yep! It’s Lyme Disease, Mr. Tick Magnet. Next time, use your bug spray. He’s taking medication now and expected to be fine in about a month.
But it makes you wonder about ticks. They can’t be very smart, or they have a really bad sense of smell. Of all the real estate on the kid’s body, this one has to duck his head and chow down on Gus’ armpit. Everyone knows, you NEVER, EVER get that close to a 13 year old boy’s armpit – not without a gas mask and biohazard suit, anyway. To my knowledge, nothing’s ever gotten close to those armpits and lived to tell about it – especially not that tick.
To be honest, seeing how tired and weak Gus seems right now, I wish he had won a Chick Magnet award instead. But I guess it’s just a matter of time for that award, especially with that smooth new James Earl Jones voice.