Escape from Big Mountain

‘So how is it going?’ I asked my brother. He had been dragooned (his words) several days ago into attending a school camp about four hours from where he lives at a place which translated into something like ‘big mountain’, and he had been pretty glum about the prospect.

‘Are we talking mind spa, or Stephen King?’ I asked.

By way of a reply, he sent me a photo. It was of him standing next to a man dressed as a wild west cowboy. In one hand, the cowboy held a gun, the other was held at waist height, thumb up, as if to say, ‘Okay, I’ll shoot ’em.’

My brother was looking at the camera with the smile of a hostage while the cowboy stared ahead and because of the angle at which they were standing, for a second it looked as if the thumbs up hand belonged to my brother.

But it was not my brother’s hand that I was most interested in. It was his head, which was sporting an enormous costume American Indian headdress.

‘More Stephen King, I fear,’ he said.

‘Is that a statue you are next to?’ I asked. The cowboy did have a rather far away look in his eyes and I wondered if character statues were one the many amusements provided at the camp.

‘He is a local entertainer,’ said my brother, without any further explanation as to his own choice of dress. I didn’t ask either, I have seen Westworld.

‘So not quite the mind spa you had been hoping for?’ I said.

‘I just did a chicken dance,’ he said, by way of reply.

I guess that is the price you pay for wearing a load of feathers on your head.

I tried again, ‘But are you enjoying it?’

‘Not sure. I am sleeping with six other people,’ he responded. This was a surprise, having his own cabin was something he had been quite insistent on.

‘What happened? I asked, ‘was the private cabin story a ruse to get you to come?’

‘Not sure,’ he said, ‘there was quite a pile on when we arrived. I was lucky to get a bed at all.’

‘One thing’s for sure,’ he added, ‘I won’t be losing any weight.’

To be honest, this was one thing that did not surprise me. If there is one thing you can guarantee on any sort of organised fun expedition, it is that there will always be a ton of food. I have been on more than my share of camps in Australia and the menus are always pretty carb-heavy too.

I imagine in a country like Thailand, where rice and noodles already make up a significant part of the diet, carbs would be everywhere. It is so difficult to avoid meals as well. You are shuffled in and out of the dining area as a group and basically if you miss your turn, then you have no way of getting any food until the next meal time, so you tend to to develop a sort of prisoner mentality and grab it while it is there. Of course, food is always central to these camps. Feeding large groups keeps them occupied, happy and less inclined to run away.

Not that my brother would have been able to run away, not in that headdress.

But that’s just the law of the Wild West for you, I guess.





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