It was the summer of 1988. My brothers and I were is the Boy scouts. Summer was the time when you could get to camp in some of the best areas of the world. This summer was special because we were headed to Pisa, Italy. The outskirts of town had a small military installation that the US Military maintained. Part of the area was set-aside for 6 weeks each summer for the Boy Scouts of America to use for summer camps.
We had just arrived in Germany with enough time to join a new Boy Scout troop and head to the summer camp. So we were making new friends and getting to know the new cultures at the same time. Upon our arrival at camp we were assigned to military style tents with eight to ten people per tent. We then went about our duties to get our cots (what a luxury for camping) set up with footlockers to store all our belonging. Then came the responsibility of getting the camping area safe with our fire safety duties and most important where the latrine was located. This way a scout could plan how late they could sleep in, get the three S’s completed and gather for formation to chow at our allotted time to eat each morning.
This trip was different than most because for us it would be a two-week trip. Most summer camps were one-week trips. Summer camps were set up to be productive and complete multiple number of merit badges. The schedule was posted and we were off to planning our own schedule of tasks to complete as many badges as we could.
Because we were without our parents, hygiene did not seem to be on the forefront of our list of tasks to be completed every day. We had the luxury of having some of the best Army cooks prepare our meals. At the Evening meal one troop was selected each day to provide entertainment for that meal. At that age everything seemed funny and new.
The swimming area for the summer camp was about a ten-minute drive away and was on the Mediterranean Sea. The beach was one of the most beautiful sites in the area. The surf was amazing and allowed us to Boogie Board. On the down side many days the beach was closed due to strong surf.
The weekend between the two weeks there we traveled into Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the local market place. This was the first experience I ever had with haggling over a price for something. It was almost an insult if you didn’t haggle. I thought I did a great job until my older brother got the same item for less.
Some things will stay a mystery, like how my whites clothes came out of the wash looking like the color of chocolate milk, or how one entire tent of scouts was covered in baby power as they slept. This was the start to many more pranks and shenanigans to come. What a great trip!