It is a very chilling feeling to realize that the large group of children who were supposedly under your control and guidance have now turned their collective will against you.
I don't know what made me think of this. Perhaps it's the fact that I'll soon have not one but two boys calling me Dad. Daddy. Pops. Gimmesomeicecream. Whatever name suits at the time.
In the summers that I worked at Boy Scout camp, experiences like this were few and far between, but they did happen, and it always served to bolster my cynicism regarding humanity's penchant for mob rule. I'm a peaceful man, but goddammit, every time I think about some of this shit, I'm glad that every major city has a S.W.A.T. team.
Like this one time, I was leading a bunch of kids on a little hike we called The Death March. It was maybe five miles, so there was little chance of death, though some of the more rotund scoutmasters that came along for the hike sometimes made me worry that we'd have to deal with a heart attack in the middle of the Texas hill country. But this one time, as we were walking down a rather narrow trail, I looked down a few steps in front of me and saw a snake crossing the path. I stopped the hike to let it cross the trail out of our way, but as soon as the kid behind me laid eyes on our reptile friend, the battle cry went up: "Living thing! KILL IT!" The rocks flew like crazy, a fully-automatic murderous assault on this poor snake who just happened to be on the wrong trail at the wrong time. I managed, with my teenage voice, to bark out the order to cease fire in time to prevent any injuries, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to just leave all those little bastards out in the woods to fend for themselves.
And then there was this other time that I was trying like hell to get this one troop to pack up their shit and get out of camp. As employees, we basically had off from Saturday after the last troop left until Sunday when the next week's troops arrived, so kicking people out on Saturdays was a highly motivated affair. Everything was going smoothly with these guys, everything that is, until the scoutmaster's son's backpack inexplicably fell open and spilled a hefty pile of porno mags onto the ground for all to see. And for some reason, the sight of those provocatively airbrushed covers lying there in the dirt caused all hell to break loose. Suddenly the scoutmaster and his son are engaged in a heated argument, other kids start fighting, another adult is yelling at some other kids, and all I can see is the minutes of my free time slipping through the hourglass. I think even then I knew that asshole was only pissed at his son because those were his mags from his private stash.
Oh and then there was the time that the chaplain came out to tell the kids some ghost stories. See, every week, we took the kids who were signed up for the wilderness survival class out to this spot in the woods to let them build their own little lean-to survival shelters and sleep in them overnight. We'd build a fire and sit around and shoot the shit until it was time for the kids to hit the sack, er, ground. And one week, our chaplain volunteered to come along to help. And gathered round the fire that night, he asked if the kids would like to hear a ghost story. Sure chappy, tell your little story. Turns out this guy had the ghost story telling skills of a hook-handed Irish drunk...which, truth be told, he was only one chainsaw accident away from being. A properly told ghost story will leave you trembling in your trousers. It's an art, I tell you. This guy scared those kids so bad that we thought they would never go to sleep. And after a while, their fear somehow morphed into some kind of strange little boy hostility, and in the middle of the pitch-black night they started a rock war! Which is exactly what it sounds like: a war fought with rocks. What is it with little boys and rock throwing? I did it too and I can't say why. Readily available ammo, I guess. It lasted all of maybe five or ten seconds before we re-instituted peace, and nobody got hurt, but those were some scary seconds.
Good times. I'm setting the conch down now.