Not like the other boys

I'm not sure when it was, exactly, that I realized I was different from the other campers. Maybe it was when they started a fierce splash war, and I had no interest in participating. Or when the conversation turned to hunting knives, and I had nothing to contribute. Or it could have been when I noticed that everyone else could stand up and pee from their canoes, while I had to paddle to shore and get out.

OK, fine: I am not pubescent, and I am not male. But there's not THAT big a difference between a 27-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy, is there? Boy Scouts is for everyone, and plus, I think bathroom humor is funny too!


I joined Greensboro's Troop 203 on a paddling trip down the White Oak River last weekend. It's the troop my father scoutmastered for 10 years and is still involved with today. And, in my defense, there were many adults along, several of them women.


We slid our canoes into the water near the coastal town of Maysville, North Carolina on Saturday morning, setting off on a 20-mile journey down a blackwater river toward the Atlantic.

Rain fell steadily all the first day, and the mist that hung over the water lent a peaceful but eerie mood to the setting. The narrow river twisted and turned, cut back on itself and changed its mind. The boys belted out songs, laughed loudly, cursed each other for not paddling.


The decomposing plants in the swampy White Oak River Basin produce tannic acid, which naturally discolors the water, giving it the appearance of black tea.

We pulled off and camped beside the river as it began to grow dark. Burritos on a campstove. A thunderstorm at night. I wore about 50 more layers than my fellow campers, who walked around in shorts.


The burrito-making machine. Mmmmm.


Pumping water from the river so we don't all die from bacterial infections.

The sun came out on the second day. As we neared the ocean, the river widened, the trees on shore gave way to grasses, and the wind picked up. We rolled up to the takeout around noon, packed wet gear into our cars and begged our dads to stop at Bojangles on the way home.