Sleeping under the stars

For the cheapest thrill around, nothing beats watching the stars overhead all night, between a few winks of sleep.

Nature really puts on a hell of a show.

I went on Scout campout with Jake on Saturday. After a full day of hiking, cooking, telling stories around the bonfire, etc.,  it was time for bed. I got Jake all bundled up and in sleeping bag. He and a friend shared a two-person tent.

But what about the adults? Well, the dads and Scout leaders were herded together in a big circus tent, with room enough for 20 people.

That was a bit too cramped and stuffy for me.

So another dad and I decided to spend the night under the stars.

Who cares if the forecast called for overnight temps to fall below 30 degrees, meaning there was a good chance we would wake up with frost on our sleeping bags?

We were dressed warmly, and had several layers between us and the ground. We spread out our bags, crawled in, and gazed at the contellations far above.

My friend was an experienced camper, as well as a trail runner and adventure racer. For him, there’s no better way to spend a weekend than a 24-hour, he-man competition involving running, canoeing, rappelling, and orienteering. He knows the outdoors.

And he knew the skies, too. As we looked at the heavens, he pointed out several constellations to me, including the dippers, Ursa Major, and a few others I’ve since forgotten. “In a few hours, they’ll all be rotated 180 degrees,” he said.

And they were, to my amazement.

I fell asleep after an hour or so, but woke up every now and then as the chilly air forced me to snuggle deeper in my bag. Each time, I glanced up at the stars for a few minutes.

OK, nothing really unusual happened. There were no meteor showers or supernovas. If there were, I missed them.

But just watching thousands (millions?) of stars twinkling in every direction of the sky, I was mezmerized. It truly was a grand show.

Finally, dawn broke, a cloudy sky appeared, and the show was over.

And yes, my sleeping bag was covered with crusty frost. So was all the ground around me.

But I didn’t mind at all.

Most of the Scouts slept in the big teepee or little tents. Most of the adults slept in the green circus tent. I opted for the big outdoors.


Of course, it’s hardly worth spending 24 hours at Scout camp without getting in a few trail hikes and runs.

I hadn’t been to this place before, Camp Redwing in Muncie, Indiana. So while the Scouts were occupied in an afternoon workshop (studying fingerprinting), I spent 45 minutes hiking the grounds, and got a lay of the land.

There wasn’t much to see, actually. It’s a pretty small campground, and fairly flat. But there were a few trail loops that connected all the campsites, and they looked runnable.

So before dinner, I changed into running clothes and did three loops. 

It wasn’t a whiz-bang, stop-the-presses run. But it was fun, and did the trick. I finished the run in just under 35 minutes.

And I worked up an appetite for dinner, homemade beef stew.

So between the stars and the trails, it was a full day.


Who knew that I was raising a chef?

My pride and joy, and a few of his friends, won a big prize at the campout for cooking the tastiest dish. And they’re not even Boy Scouts yet — just Webelos (the stage before crossing over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts).

They were attending the Camporee as guests of a Boy Scout troop. And during their visit,  they beat out cooks from five other troops to win the Camporee’s cooking award.

Their winning dish was called “Delicious Evidence.” It was a tasty dessert, made of bananas, chocolate, whipping cream, bread, oil and vanilla, simmered over a flame.

I had a bite. It was good. The judges let us know just how good it really was.

Jake (center) and two friends display their "Traveling Cooking Award," for winning the cooking competition.


One Response to “Sleeping under the stars”

  1. Nice, John. Makes me miss the Cub Scout days with my two boys.

    Twice when my kids were younger, there was a meteor shower or shooting stars or some kind of cosmic happening. I set my alarm, woke up the kids in the middle of the night and we took sleeping bags outside and lay in our big back yard and looked up at the sky. Just looking up at the sky at night is a pretty wonderful thing.

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