Chase W. Thornton, troop leader for Fredericksburg Boy Scout Troop Alpha, helped his scouts set up campsite at the grounds of Whiskey Holler and Marshland. This three-day adventure would help the scouts earn merit badges that included: backpacking, camping, exploration, fishing, forestry, geology, and hiking. It would even give the scouts a taste of environmental science, which Chase considered a good thing.
At 52, Chase taught environmental science at the local community college and was of the thought that everyone should concern themselves with the fate of the world. In between classes and the prep for future classes, you could find Chase on the picket lines yelling for more radical change to combat the dreaded climate crisis, or penning letters to local senators and representatives.
“Come on, guys. We’ve got three days to earn these badges. This evening we will fish and make a meal of what we catch. Tomorrow morning, we will commence on a hike to the far side of the swamp and take in some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. On the way back, we will stop and explore various sites and rock formations. On the last day, we will discuss the environment and the dangers that seek to eradicate sites just like this one. So, what do you say? Shall we get started?”
A chorus of cheers went up from the boys, and they began to pull out their fishing equipment. Chase set out a tackle box, and the boys gathered around while Chase and his assistant troop leader Brandon, showed the boys how to properly tie a hook on. Then, they crowded around the bank and cast out their lines.
After three hours of fishing, Chase and Brandon taught the boys how to sharpen knives, and how to skin and filet fish, and how to prep fish for dinner. As darkness fell, they all gathered around the campfire, and listened to the various sounds of the wild. Between the sounds, the boys told ghost stories each trying to one up the next until the troop leaders called out time for bed.
The early morning sunshine filtered through the trees and swamp moss, and after a hearty breakfast, they started their hike to the far side of the swamp. Chase took lead, Brandon brought up the rear, the boys sandwiched between the two men. As they walked the men quizzed the boys.
Chase started with, “What types of animals live in the swamp?”
“Not human,” one boy said, as he swatted at the mosquitoes that sought fresh blood. “Nobody wants to live out here.”
“No, Jones. That’s not correct. In fact, many people choose to live off the beaten path,” Chase said, leading the gaggle of boys deeper in the swamp. Jones swatted at another mosquito and retorted, “Yeah, look how well that worked out for him,” he said, pointing at the remains of a lower leg with a piece of black zip tie around it.
“Oh dear God,” Brandon squealed. “Its…Its…Its…”
“Boys, back up,” Chase said.
The boys did so while craning their necks to see the leg for themselves. ‘Awesome’ some said, while others nodded and added, ‘best trip ever!’ Chase pulled out his cell and dialed 911, and soon the swamp was alive with the sounds of sirens and heavy footfalls that trampled precocious plant growth underfoot.
Chase didn’t mind their savagery; his concern for the environment was only virtue signaling. And a chewed off lower extremity concerned him more than the possible collapse of the environment in the next 200 years.
Come ye heralds of environmental doom! Do what you must, but remove this fleshly limb from mine sight posthaste!
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