On any given camping trip, I think my favorite time was that first campfire. This was really the first time the Marion Boys Club kids experienced darkness settling upon Big Bass Lake and when fully dark the kids huddled around the campfire and got really silent for a few minutes. For many of them, this was their first real camping trip away from their parents. The sense of the unknown was all around them.
I recall Calvin glancing at the safety of his tent just a few short yards away from our fire pit. Kevin and Eddie had turned around to focus on the dark shrouded Haunted Island where they would be heading to at midnight on another night on that trip. Johnny was focusing in on his marshmallow dangling over the fire making sure it was just right before consuming it.
Then I started in on a song, Row, Row, Row Your Boat and all the boys joined in as many moved their eyes to where I had docked our rowboat for the night. Kevin remembered diving off of it in our early evening swim. Some laughter followed his remarks. The boys, both black and white, were sharing some of their feelings about that first dark night. One was concerned about going to the portable potty before going to bed which also got some laughter.
As the fire settled down to just a few embers, one by one the boys got ready for bed and other things that needed getting done before that time came. The last boy who settled down that night was Johnny as he must have consumed twenty marshmallows that night. Not a bad first evening campfire!