The astronomy club from the local high school was having their monthly meeting, this time on a camping trip; and knowing my interests and hobbies, they asked me to tag along. There was going to be a meeting on amateur radio high altitude ballooning, too. I said a resounding “yes.” I have the gear so it was easy to pack up and go at the last minute. I was going to contribute my expertise on relevant aerospace science. Sounds like fun? You bet!
We get to the camping site and it looked good. A nice clearing in a forest area with clean facilities nearby. This was not a wilderness site but had running water, a BBQ pit, and a covered area with tables and benches. So far so good. This would be a no brainer. What could go wrong? Jamie Whitfield, a young science student had his trusty laptop and wouldn’t let it out of his sight. Every time someone mentioned something he was interested in, he looked it up to verify the facts. Kind of annoying if you ask me! But he’s a kid after all.
So we get through an initial group meeting, shared some likes and dislikes, tossed back some soda, and had a nice cookout style dinner. A hearty smoke-free campfire topped off the evening. It was bliss. The next day, the coffee smelled divine and I had a few cups along with my bacon and eggs. Got kind of wired and went hiking for a few hours. When I came back, I found out that whiney Whitfield was bitching about the small portable generator that the group had bought along. It wasn’t working (someone forgot extra fuel) and his batteries were running out. He was livid. The rest of us didn’t care much as it wasn’t really roughing it in this particular camping spot, but we pretended a little sympathy and someone promised to go in search of fuel.
Alas, he didn’t find it and didn’t care. Neither did we. But we were getting a little bored and decided, without planning it and by default, to torment Whitfield. We brought up robotics, one of his top tier categories, and made up some nonsense that he would want to prove wrong. But he couldn’t, of course, and he just sat there by the fire seething. We did it again with some bizarre statements about space exploration causing Whitfield to pout and mewl. After an hour of this meanness, we let up a bit and still Whitfield had no clue of our antics. One kid asked one question too many, however, and Whitfield just lost it and blew up. “I’ll get you all,” he stammered, and he meant it.
By the time the trip was over and we were all talked out, Whitfield lost interest in being angry and let it go. He didn’t sign up for the next trip, however, to no one’s surprise. He never knew that we had ganged up on him solely because of the generator, and guilty we did not feel. He deserved it if you can say that about a teen. After a time, I came to like the boy. He had gumption and curiosity. Someday I will take him aside and tell him the truth. But not for a while.