08/06/2014 05:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Boyhood, Revisited

A month ago, my wife and I as well as several friends, were camped in the foothills of the Eastern Sierra.

Our campsite was by no means glamorous. We were not glamping. Nor was it as cushy as some of the cabins that are still standing three miles to the west at the Manzanar Internment Site.

We had a tent, a bear box and pop up to shade us from the 100 degree heat. Oh and a cooler full of Coronas.

Naturally, as men are wont to do, especially when inebriated, we started telling tall tales.

My buddy, let's call him Tad because it's so much more humiliating than his real name, is the son of a Navy Seal. As such, he's no stranger to the outdoors or surviving in tough conditions, after all, he grew up in gritty San Diego.

Tad is also a former Boy Scout.

Not just any Boy Scout, he was an Eagle.

I was also a Boy Scout and reached the lofty rank of Second Class. Of course I didn't grow up in the soft suburbs of Southern California but in the significantly tougher environs of Northern New Jersey/Southern New York.

I think you can see where this is going.

A few more beers and perhaps a shot or two of Patron led me to boldly assert that my Second Class Adirondack experience was equal to or exceeded his glampy SoCal Eagle standing.

What, other than copious amounts of alcohol, would warrant such a statement?

I told Tad of the time, when at the tender age of twelve, I was forced into a Winter Klondike. In the middle of January, on a barren patch of forested land off Rt. 59, we winter camped. I slept on 6 inches of snow, separated only by a 1/2 inch thick sleeping bag from my father's old Army days.

If I'm not mistaken, and mind you this was 32 years ago so I might be, the tent was crafted from old handkerchiefs sewn together with knots used by the local Iroquois Indians.

Not to be outdone, Tad said he would send me a picture of his sash.

The fact that I don't own a sash tells you all you need to know.

As you can see, Tad was quite accomplished.

He didn't have the same merit badges that we had on the East Coast: Rock Chewing, Possum Poking or Gasoline Fire Starting.

His scouting tokens are distinctly more erudite; including Mocassin-Making, Recycling and Waterskiing.


I rest my case.