There always seems to something about summer camp that attracts boys to snakes. I was never fond of spiders, but I always thought snakes were pretty neat. Moms don’t always share that “pretty neat” feeling, so sometimes boys feel they are getting away with something by being around snakes at summer camp.
I was a counselor at Camp Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania for several summers. One summer I was the Nature Director and was determined that I would have a couple of snakes for the boys to observe. By the day before the campers arrived, I had no snakes. So I went into the woods determined to find a snake for my nature cage. After 30 minutes of walking through the woods, I found a black snake, approximately 6 feet long. Using good technique, I picked up the snake and headed back to camp. Now I had watched “Wild Kingdom” and had seen Marlin Perkins carrying snakes- head in one hand and tail in the other. This always looked sort of “dorkey” to me, so I held the snake by the head and started down the trail. A short while later the snake had wrapped himself around my arm, from my wrist to my shoulder. I then remembered that a black snake is a constrictor and I was losing the feeling in my arm. I started to loose my grip on the snake’s head. I was thinking that old Marlin was pretty smart after all. Thankfully another counselor came along, unwrapped my friend from my arm, and helped me put the snake in the nature cage.
A couple days later I saw about a 12” black snake scurrying along the floor of one of the camp buildings. I stepped on him and reached down to pick him up. When I reached down from his right, he turned his head to the right. When I reached down to his left, he turned his head to the left. So I reached down from the right again and he bit me on the finger. I reached down from the left, and he bit me on the thumb. So I let him go. Everyone thought this was extremely funny.
There are probably as many snake stories as there are Scouts and Scouters. If you have an interesting story you would like to share, send me an email and I’ll incorporate it into a later article. Next time we’ll have some useful information about snakes.