Tuesday, August 21, 2012

60 Second Stories By Cal - Jiffy Pop And The Prince

I was big into Scouting when I was a kid. Growing up on a military base gave us the opportunity to take part in the kinds of adventures that regular Scouts never got to participate in. There were lots of people around to educate us on survival skills that involved weapons training and self defence. We got to ride in helicopters, tanks and armored personal carriers. We had the military gear to camp in both the summer or the winter. It was one of those activities that me and my father did together.

I continued to be a scout when we lived in Europe. In 1977 our Troop was given special dispensation to attend the 1977 World Scout Jamboree in Prince Edward Island's Cabot Park. They considered us foreign and not Canadian so we got special treatment - just like other foreign representatives. 16,000 Scouts attended that two week event.

There was even a television special shot there staring Anne Murray and several NHL players. My mom said she saw me in the crowd but I think she made that up. There were thousands of teen boys...at an ANNE FREAKIN' MURRAY concert...all thinking that is was the coolest thing to ever be a part of.

I hadn't been back to Canada in five years at this point in my life (age 12) so everything was so exciting and new. Stores had signs in English and with the exchange rate between German  Marks and Canadian Dollars being so high, we were flush with cash when we stopped at the K-Mart to stock up on supplies.

I remember walking through the main gates with a six inch throwing knife on the same side of my regular Swiss Army Knife. On the other side we all wore our new hatchets and machetes. We were the most heavily armed teens on that whole island - not that we needed to protect ourselves from anything but our own foolishness.

After several days at the Jamboree we started to hear rumors that some important people may visit our camp and they might be bringing lobsters with them. Because we were considered foreign dignitaries, we were on the list for a visit. We just never knew when it would occur, if at all.

Our camp was pretty impressive. Our leaders had let us design it our way and we had to do all the cooking for the group. One afternoon, someone messed up our food delivery and all we had in the food crate was a single package of Jiffy Pop Popcorn.

We were so hungry that we went to the fire and just dropped the package into the coals. Of course the intense heat rabidly popped the kernels and then burned themselves to a crisp as they flew into the fire.

Someone had the brilliant idea of picking up the red hot metal handle to save what popcorn we could. Several third degree burns later, the popcorn was flying everywhere. We all scrambled to chase down the non-burnt pieces to put together some kind of meal.

After ten minutes of all that panic we collapse onto the ground with our pitiful half handfuls of unburnt popcorn. The scene was so bizarre that we couldn't help but start laughing - the kind of giggling that starts but is difficult to stop.

I guess we were making too much noise so we didn't see the group of men in their important Scouting outfits enter the camp. Obviously they wanted to see what all the commotion was about. The person you noticed most was the tale guy dressed like he was Lord Baden Powell himself.

Prince Charles visited all the foreign scout camps and a few Canadian ones - we came from West Germany so he thought we were not Canadian but Germans. We had just burned the shit out of some Jiffy Pop and were laughing our asses off because we could only save ten kernels.

He came up to us and asked us what was so funny. We didn't know who he was and we could barely get out the words because we were laughing so much.  He laughed too and stayed with us and showed us how to boil and crack the lobsters he had brought with him - well his aides did the cooking while he listened to our stories and told some of his own. Only years later did I realize who he was.  Our adult leaders were at a big meeting at the time and missed the whole event.

So I once sat around the campfire and learned how to eat Lobster from the Prince of Wales. That alone makes me interesting. Everything else makes me fascinating.


DrGoat said...

I love your life stories. That's a great one. Jamborees can be rough. I'm sure we all have great memories of cool things that happened in our lives. I do. My wife keeps telling me I should try to write down some of the crazy stuff we did in the 60s-70s.

Kal said...

You should man. I would read those memories of a dirty hippie. I just saw the patch and I had to write something about it. Groovy times.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Fun story!

Budd said...

you lose street cred for burning Jiffy Pop, but get it back for hanging with royalty. I love scouting.

You should totally volunteer as an adult leader in your community. They now have a collecting merit badge and I would assume that you would be the go to advisor on that one.