Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aces Casino Blog: When it Comes to "Camporee," Always Remember One Thing: Bill Knows Best

We here at Aces Casino have always been proud to be known as the top Orange County casino party company in Southern California.  It's what we do best by far, and we (constantly) bring this fact to the forefront when we decide to discuss some things that we DON'T do very well.

Yes, it's true: If you take the staff of Aces Casino away from the bright lights of the best casino night fundraisers and corporate events of the southland, and place them in an environment that mirrors something you'd see in an episode of "Survivor," well, as the saying goes, "you might be in for a bumpy ride.  Please fasten your seat belts."

Hey, we freely admit this.  We're good at some things (bowling, live poker, and softball), and incredibly BAD at other things (mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry).  But, when it comes to the #1 thing that THIS reporter really stinks at, that thing would HAVE to be camping.  Without QUESTION.

Camping is one of the reasons that we took the job that involves working weekends in the first place.  The way WE see it, If you're busy making a living on the weekends, you're one step closer to avoiding the remote possibility of having to go camping.  I never really understood why camping exists in the first place.  If the Lord had meant people to camp out, he wouldn't have invented hotels.  And I've seen all the movies -- Deliverance, The River Wild, Troop Beverly Hills.  Camping is NEVER a good thing.  Hollywood never lies.

Just when I thought I had advanced to the age where the possibility of "camping" would disappear forever, I married late in life, and began to raise a family.  A family that included two boys.  You know, when they were born, they didn't LOOK like campers.

Then, they grew up.

Mom's to blame, here.  SHE thought It'd be a good idea to "broaden the kid's horizons," and expose them to all kinds of new things.  I knew I shouldn't have married that woman.   I HATE new things.  I despise my cell phone, my cable bill, the Teletubbies, Barney, and ESPECIALLY Dora the Explorer.  That cartoon chick also helped create my camping downfall.

Show-Off.  That's her, officer.  She's the culprit.

So, yeah, the kids grow up, discover this cool "camping" thing when Mom registers them with the Boy Scouts, and "Voila."  Time to go camping with the boys.

Now, no father wants to look foolish in front of his own sons, but these kids are smart.  They KNOW Dad's a horrible camper, and they don't know anything about this new genre, either.  So the BEST thing to do in a situation like this?  Easy.  Makes friends with the Scoutmaster.  In MY case, the Scoutmaster of our pack ended up being a man named Bill Wetzel, a scout leader that has possibly the most decorated resume' in the history of scouting, not to mention a man that is easy to get along with and eager to teach the tricks of the scouting trade to anyone with a question.

Poor devil.  He never met anyone like me.  Bill's been answering my questions for about three years now, and unfortunately for him, I'm guessing they're always the same questions.  I keep waiting for him to ask me to help him with some fundraiser that would incorporate Aces Casino, our Orange County casino night party machine, into the scouting mix.  Sorry, no such luck.  These Boy Scouts have their act together.  They don't need me HALF as much as I need THEM.

I'll tell you a quick story about Bill Wetzel.  As this first Camp-O-Ree was approaching on the calendar, I had heard of something called an Air Mattress, kind of like a big air-filled pillow to sleep on.  Wow, I thought this'd be GREAT to have for my first camp-out, and Asked Bill what HE thought about air mattresses.  He told me, "Aces, you really don't need something like that.  I've never used one.  All you'll need is a nice soft spot inside your tent, and you'll be fine."

Well, OK, then.  I'll save the $60, and hold off buying the air mattress.  I'll go to the Camp-O-Ree without it.  If Bill can do it, I can do it.

Unfortunately, I forgot one thing.  This is BILL WETZEL we're talking about.  Super Scout-Man.  A man that I'm sure is the "McGyver" of Scouting.  He can probably make a hammock out of two twigs and a napkin.  He's been doing this for forty years.  I'm guessing he normally uses bears for bedding, and a tin can for a tent.  I'm not in Bill's league.  Won't be.  EVER.

That's Bill on the right, showing off his invisible hammock.

I went to that first Camp-O-Ree without that air mattress.  One week later, when my backache from trying to sleep on the hard ground for two nights at Camp-O-Ree had finally subsided, I went back and bought the Air Mattress.  Take it from a novice.  Bring an air mattress to your camp-out.

That was two Camp-O-Rees ago.  I'm now a three-time loser.  Last weekend, I went on my third "Camp-O."   They're pretty much all the same.  600 boy scouts or more, all of them with more camping skills than I'll ever have, and a whole bunch of scoutmasters that come off as military personnel (Except Bill, of course).  Boy, I am ALWAYS a fish out of water here, but that's the part that I enjoy.  OK, I'll camp out one more time, in the tent, with all the other stuff you have to bring...

Then, I see it.

As the first night of Camp-O-Ree comes to a close, I spot this gigantic white tent-like structure near our campsite, but it's nothing like our little Coleman mini-tents.  This thing looks like it was used in the last "Harry Potter" film.  It's HUGE.  Heck, I thought it was headquarters for this weekend's Los Alamitos Camp-O-Ree.  So, I go over to this Trump-Tower structure, to check in with headquarters.

Or so I thought.

This monstrosity isn't "headquarters."  It's a scoutmaster's tent for the weekend.  ONE scoutmaster.  ONE guy that brought this thing that's bigger than the Bonaventure hotel, and sitting right in the middle of Camp-O-Ree.  

OK, I'm ticked.  You gotta be kidding me.  I peek inside this thing, and find that it's big enough for a tennis court and a Jacuzzi in here.  Both these things are probably in this tent somewhere, but I don't have time to look.  What I DO see is a full bed, a kitchen, tables, and gawd-knows what else.  This thing is PACKED with amenities. 

This is my last "Camp-O-Ree," because of the age of my sons.  But, HECK, if I knew that I could bring something like THIS leviathan, I would have bought one over at "Trump's Camping Gear 'R Us."  I talked briefly with the owner of this Boardwalk hotel; He not much for conversation, and he sure doesn't like trespassers.  Heck, I was just looking for the Concierge.  Sorry.  Sue me.  But, I gotta tell you.  THAT ain't camping.  I oughta know.  I've been non-camping for three years.  Yeah, he kicked me out when I told him that.  Guess he had an appointment in his catering office.

Well, when all is said and done, this Aces Casino camping nincompoop survived.  Didn't set myself on fire again, took less than two days to put up the tent, had my lil' sand and water buckets in the right place so we didn't get marked off, and didn't tease the Sergeant Carter-type scoutmaster in the next plot like last year.  Our own pack scoutmaster, Walt Wilkerson, racked up something like seven awards for our Pack 558 last weekend.  Translation:  I didn't help them.  The kids appreciate that.

And I appreciate all the assistance I've received from all of the many good people of the Boy Scouts, especially Bill and his daughter Virginia.  They're the only reason this Orange County casino party guy has "survived in the wild" over these many Camp-O-Ree's.

If they DO invite me NEXT year, though, I've got a plan.  I'm checking into that big white hotel that the other scoutmaster brought.  I've gotta get that hotel's number.  Wonder if William Shatner knows it?

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