March 18, 2019

Dear Reader

by Douglas Blaine Matthews (author's profile)



Dear Reader,
Hey! I hope today is going well for you!

I have more that I could tell you of my group home and middle school experiences, but I'll move on. In time, I'm sure I'll bring up situations in reference to them though. For now, I'll move onto a very exciting year of my life: wilderness camp!

I got in trouble in my third group home, so my probation officer gave me a choice: go to training school (juvenile prison) until I was 18 years old or go to wilderness camp, which I could graduate in as early as a year. I was 14, so... it was an easy answer.

The wilderness camp was in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just north of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. I think it fell right on the border of Mt. Airy, NC and Longap, Virginia. There were six tribes: Watauga, Yuscarora, Echashuna, Felonies, Backwoodsmen, and my tribe, the Nokasuches. My spelling on those, I did the best I could. Ha!

It was fun. Every day was structured. Chop wood, cut down trees, build log tents. Hiking, canoing, carving. Go to war with raccoons. Yup, the great. No battle ever fought was between a human and a raccoon. I think that'll be the first story I tell you of this year long experience.

It was a Wednesday or a Thursday. I know this because we cooked out in our own camps on those days. That's when we kept food in our prep and bags. Two very large coolers. The kind with the double lid that each snapped shut. We would fill our wash basins, 50 gallon metal tubs, and put one on each cooler. I would say to keep the raccoons out of the coolers, but that never worked. It was more of an alarm protocol. When those tubs hit the ground, it made a booming ruckus that let us know they were here.

We, my group, were having pow-wow. it's where every night we sit around a fire and discuss our goals for that day and the next. Once again, a loud boom came echoing up the mountain. Only a few of us went. I grabbed the mightiest weapon we could use against the sly villain—a weapon that, when used correctly, had such efficiency and power against those elusive beasts that my tribe dubbed it "The Excalibur of Blue Ridge." The boomstick! :/ :P

I went on the attack. A raccoon had a box of Bisquick in its paws. We locked eyes. And the battle commenced.

We fought for two or three minutes, and it dropped the Bisquick...? That's odd. These creatures don't give up. It stood on its back legs, showed me its teeth, and then ran off. It was then that I noticed two other raccoons dragging bags of French fries into the mountains. I looked at the cooler, and it was open. Some of the food was gone and then it hit me.

That S.O.B. was a distraction!

While I fought with it and the other kids watched me—yup, even cheering me on like it was a boxing match on Showtime—the other raccoons stole away our food.

Yeah, raccoons are that smart and that really happened. It wasn't the first or the last time it happened. And I'd bet my lunch still to this day. Those masked bandits are getting fat on tribe's frozen French fries and boxes of Bisquick.

Raccoons aren't the only animals to watch out for up there. Bobcats, bears, and my favorite—only because I bested one—the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. But they don't pose much danger as they're just as afraid of us as we are of them. They operate under the same principle: "Don't start no trouble, won't be no trouble."

Next blog post will be about my tribe's trip to hike on the Appalachian Trial in Vermont. And my confrontation with a moose!

Until next time.

Yours truly,


Replies Replies feed

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Douglas Blaine Matthews: RSS email me
Comments on “Dear Reader”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS