I bolted from LiNC (the Lithium Network Conference 2011 in San Francisco). I’m sure like many others, I didn’t want to leave the LiNC fun, but it was time to get home and daylight was burning. So, I walked up to Market St. and headed southwest from downtown San Francisco at BART speed. And, I was overcome by the thoughts of meeting so many great people who are making great strides for their brands and pushing their careers forward.
I had planned a camping weekend with my son. It was with the Cub Scouts, a parent-child weekend at Camp Cutter Scout Reservation in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I had already packed before I left for LiNC, so now all I had to do was get home and change from business casual to camp clothes. Swapped out my slacks and dress shoes for blue jeans and hiking boots. And, off we went on a short 75 miles journey up into the hills between Saratoga and Santa Cruz.
By 6pm Friday night, just 3 hours removed of the modern luxuries of the Intercon, I had traded in my city by the bay view to an immersion of tall pines, redwood trees, twigs, and dirt. My mobile phone had no service. My warm comfy bedroom was now a tent with sleeping bags and an air mattress (I did remember that). And, quickly I found bug repellent for the early eve mosquitos and the eau de Cutters was in full stench. I went to the restroom, affectionately called a “Latrine”, which was indescribably primitive. I can tell you that it had a huge trench sink with one temperature control – cold water. Very cold water (more on that later).
After a few campsite games and introductions to other parents and young scouts in our campsite, we marched off to the lodge for dinner.
There was a huge kitchen and mess hall to feed the 100+ scouts under the age of 11 and 100 or so parents. More adjustments for me… Gone were the cloth napkins and silverware. It was replaced with napkins that could barely dry a wet pinky, paper plates, and plastic utensils. And, from premium bar to completely dry (scout camp rules). Heck, 2 “dry” days was probably what the doctor ordered anyway.
And, by the time the whole dining hall broke out into a group song, my re-initiation to scouting was complete. I had left behind the Lithium Nation, and now contentedly succumbed to the Scouting Nation.
Back at the tent after dinner and a small campfire, I played Texas Hold ‘Em with my son in the tent with my iPad (did you really think I’d leave that at home?). It’s a heck of lot easier to play card games on an iPad, then trying to find a flat area in a tent to stack poker chips.
At promptly 7:45am Saturday morning, I was awoken by reveille. It was foggy. The tent was slightly damp and about 46° F outside. We put a few layers of clothes and set out for a day of activities including BB Guns, archery, canoeing, and crafts. I drank coffee. I hiked. I even found a few minutes for a nap.
Each parent had to sign-up for one of the shifts in the kitchen. I arrived at 11:45am and was handed a mop and bucket. I mopped about 500 sq. foot of the dining hall, washed huge pans, served pudding, and ate watermelon. I felt good about my contribution and gladly complied with every request. (I’m sure my boss is wondering what it’s like when I act like a good subordinate).
After dinner Saturday night, the whole camp came out for the ceremonial campfire. It had been sunny most of the day, but it was really foggy now and becoming more windy and misty. We were doing everything we could to stay warm. I was able to convince my son and 3 other kids from our Den to lead one of the campfire songs. It’s called the “Little Green Frog” song. With 4 kids at my side, we had 200 people jumping up and down. I was warm and could feel my toes for about 5 minutes. I’ll show the song if you want, but you’ll have to do it with me.
After we lay down for the night, it clouded up. It then started to rain. Really rain. Followed by a deep mountain fog. I awoke around 6am Sunday to find my son and I’s sleeping bags soaked at the foot of the tent. I had to move our shoes to keep them out of a puddle. By 8am it was 42° F outside, we had packed most of our stuff and headed to the dining hall for some warm coffee and eggs. As I was leaving the lodge to go back to our campsite to pack, I found something amazing.
Many, many years ago, as a young scout, I participated in a Western Region conference. This was 10 scouting councils competing for the prestigious “Conclave Award”. It was my first time at the event and we won, and I remember distinctly how much fun I had be part of a winning team and doing whatever I could. Simply nailed to the wall near the main door, there it lay.
The winning plaque from 1981.
This was just the reminder I needed about what I had experienced at LiNC – how accomplishment can exceed the elements. I’m talking about both the accomplishments by Lithium customers and all of the contributions by Lithium employees to make this a great annual event in San Francisco this year. Along, with the inspirational push from Coach VanDerveer.
Thank you to everyone who came, participated, spoke, questioned, blogged, tweeted, ate, drank…even if it was just for one or two sessions. This was a highly memorably event and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Can’t wait til next year.
For now, back to reality.