budget to fix them. They were happy to offer free camping in exchange
for trail work by an experienced crew.
I made contact with the people who run the REI gear bank in
Arcadia. Thanks to their generous loan of sleeping bags, pads and
tents, we were able to get our group equipped to sleep in the woods
with the owls, raccoons and coyotes.
Max Martinez of the Corps Leadership Council and staff members
Veronica Bravo and Daniel Ramirez bought a mountain of food with
corps funds. Vic and I picked up some little extras like Abuelita
Mexican chocolate drink mix, guacamole, chips, bags of fresh fruit
and more. No one goes hungry on one of our camping trips.
In addition to staff members Daniel and Veronica, we had corps
members Angel, Angie, Leticia, Maria and Olivia, along with Cruz,
Josh, Max, Rob and Sergio -- all in their late teens or early
twenties. To the sound of much giggling and laughter, we got six
tents and a new REI screen shelter erected. Dinner of grilled
hamburgers, refried beans and romaine lettuce topped with creamy
cilantro dressing and pumpkin seeds was a group effort.
After brownies for dessert, Vic took some people for an owl prowl.
The rest of us sat around the campfire. Vic's group saw a bobcat and
caught a tarantula. Vic put the spider on his arm to demonstrate how
harmless they are.
Later, the boys caught another tarantula to show the girls, who
expressed their lack of delight with loud shrieks. Of course, the
tarantulas were released unharmed.
Late in the evening, Vic told the group about the legendary
Chupacabra, a horrible reptilian beast with huge red eyes that walks
upright like a man. Chupacabras suck the blood from goats, chickens,
and hapless campers, throwing away their dry corpses.
Vic told them the last Chupacabra to be seen was a pregnant female
who escaped somewhere near San Juan Creek, where we were camped. The
kids weren't scared nearly enough by that story, so I lied that there
would be a test on Monday about the things they learned over the
weekend. That horrified them.
Morning arrived with the chattering of birds and howls of coyotes.