overnight campingTitle: Outward Bound: To Serve, to Strive and not to Yield
Author: Matthew Dexter
Category: Nonfiction

Day 1: Welcome at-risk degenerates, juvenile delinquents, chronic masturbators, squirrel murderers, hipster emo sadists. Mobile devices, beauty products, makeup, deodorant -- forbidden -- we will dig a hole and shit in the woods -- if you cannot wipe with a leaf you can carry your own toilet paper in a plastic bag inside your pack. If you’re too weak to do this I can carry it for you in mine. Everybody must bring sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, toothbrush, toothpaste, foot powder. Girls, don’t forget your biodegradable tampons and menstrual cramp medication.

Day 2: Wake up broken with sore legs; get used to it. Stoic girl walking back from forest with shovel, her head down, hands the baton over to another and off to dig a second hole, disappearing into Uncompahgre National Forest. Wish we could follow. Students roll out of bedbug-ridden sleeping bags, crawl from semen-stained tarps, and become cockroaches in Colorado. No time to tunnel more than an inch into the moist earth. The ground steams as thighs burn, crimson sunrise scatters caterpillars out from the moss of splintered logs as splintered sunlight swallows termites. 

Day 3: Pour porridge with raisons underneath an uprooted tree because it tastes terrible. Instructor admonishes the group on your behalf.

Day 4: Wilson Peak beckons; Lizard Head Pass has swallowed your intestines. Girls start smelling funky with crusty faces and scruffy hair. It turns you on. The spade is loaded with bacteria; desecrated toilet paper festering in the top of instructor’s pack. Testes shriveling; nipples bloodied; there is no end in sight.

Day 5: Summit a peak. Start using smuggled Old Spice deodorant despite the mocks of fellow males.

Day 6: Snow school. Practice self-arrest techniques. How would it feel to fall off a mountain; to shatter your skull with an ice axe?

Day 7: You are group guide: chart maps, control rations, write in group journal. At night you steal graham crackers and nibble them alone in the woods with the shovel as you scratch your neglected privates, observing squirrels gathering nuts.

Day 8: Climb summit of Mt. Wilson; in the middle of the night begin ascent with headlamps and snow clamber. Make it to the top just after sunrise. Fly down mountain of skeet; end up taking a siesta in magic field of poppies.

Day 9: Solo; all allotted designated areas to think. Supplies: whistle (in case another student smashes his head open using a rock to hold the folded edges of a tarp); two small bags of raisons and peanuts. You journey outside your territory; spy on a blonde through the trees hanging clothes on branches, eat most the food your first day, masturbate the nature of her madness.

Day 10: Hungry as hell. Vision fasting begins at sunset.

Day 11: Instructor finds students, brings everyone together to feast on an elaborate breakfast; labyrinthine spread of eggs, ham, bacon; items you never knew existed in instructors’ packs. Almost everybody vomits afterwards, or trudges into the wild. No shovel required. 

Day 12: Apply lessons learned on an extensive eleven mile quest running through the mountains. You finish fourth. The instructor looks at you like a proud father during encounter at the half-way turnaround point. 

Day 13: Chop up some aspirin from the supply kit to snort up your nose with rolled-up topography map.

Day 14: Hitch a ride from the guides instead of taking school bus with the degenerates. Wish you could eat magic mushrooms and smoke cannabis with them at the hotel.

Day 15: The shower is magic. You are the same.

Matthew Dexter lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Like the nomadic PericĂș natives before him, he survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine.