My love of float trips began my senior year in high school. I really wasn’t into “roughing it,” but my buddies and I were really into have a guys’ weekend that involved music, some under-age drinking, and, yes, getting into canoes and floating. And this was the start of what came to be known as the “Massacre.”
We all went off to different colleges, but vowed that our annual float trip would continue every summer, and it did. But we made new friends in college, and so we began to invite them to be a part of the event, if they could make it to Missouri on the planned weekend.
Many of them did. In fact, they liked it so much they became a part of the group, and we were now making reservations in campgrounds that had gone from the original 5 to about 30, by the time we all graduated. This was when we decided to name our event and the “Massacre” seemed only fitting, considering what we did to our bodies in the space of 3 days – too much drinking, too much sun, crap food, bug bites, and the occasional poison ivy. Still we vowed to continue on.
Fast forward to adulthood and real jobs with real responsibilities. It changed nothing. For that one weekend, we had our “mojo” back. And the group kept expanding. Now there were the original 5 from high school, our college buddies, and new friends we had made since graduating. Each year our reservation for the following year got larger, and we were virtually taking over an entire campground. This was probably a good thing, because at least we were not disturbing couples and families who might actually want to sleep!
As all things do, eventually we began to opt for other vacations. We all had families by now, and wives and kids who wanted family vacations. And the schedules kept getting more and more complicated as we tried to email, call and text our way through finding a weekend that would work for everyone. The handwriting was on the wall. The “Massacre” might have seen it last days.
Determined not to go out with a “whimper,” however, the original 5 got together and planned the one final “Massacre” two years in advance.
We rented an entire campground again, this time a larger one; we emailed the invites to all current participants and more. They had to reserve their spots through us, and pay in advance, because the expense was going to be a bit more. The plan began to take shape. And, when the weekend finally came, it looked like this:
- We had hired two cooks who arrived in a refrigerated truck, filled with food for the entire weekend. We had eggs, sausage and biscuits for breakfast. Dinners were steaks and kabobs, with plenty of sides. Hot dogs, brats, chips, etc. were available throughout the weekend at any time.
- We hired a local St. Louis band for both nights – no more “canned” music for us! We sang until the very wee hours of very inebriated nights, but we fed the band well and they were only too happy to have the extra hours to charge for.
- Not many floated that weekend. Instead, we spent our time reminiscing about “Massacres” gone by, and the end of an era for us all.
We’re all in our forties now. And the 5 high school buddies are still as “tight” as ever. We have our own weekend every summer, rotating locations among our homes. And float trips? Yes, we sometimes have them, but now we are a part of the “family” crowd with wives and kids in tow. It’s all good!