We Will Return to Cayo Costa





ayo Costa.  The name will never seem quite the same again.  There were 35 Great Outdoors campers this year, making it the biggest camping trip we have ever sponsored.  We had to charter a second boat, just to take our gear!  Eight guys arrived by kayak!


Dave had 21 men sleeping over at his house on Friday night.  The neighbors in Port Charlotte must have had a lot to talk about!


The ferry dropped us at the island by mid morning.  The range tapped his higher math skills to determine the appropriate rate for 21 singles, and then transported us to the campsites on the Gulf side of the island.


Our campsite was perfect--a clearing large enough for most of our tents, around a campfire pit (Village A).  Several tenters chose an adjacent area with a snooty water view (Village B).  Ron, for example, chose Village B.


The rest of the first day was spent in minor exploration and beaching.  Dinner--three different dinners,. in fact, with a generous supply of rice--was consumed with gusto.


Sunday began with Sterpe eggs (recipe, not offspring).  Two groups set out for hiking: the Edwin Group heading for the northern forested portion of the island, ending up at Quarantine Docks; and the Chuck Group, heading south for the shore walk along the beach.


Midway through late afternoon facial time, a dramatic cloud appeared on the horizon, and in rolled a heavy fog accompanied by cool damp weather--perfect campfire weather!  Robert from West Palm owns the campfire entertainment business.  On Saturday night he gave a (legit) message demonstration by the campfire.  On Sunday, however, he outdid himself with a New Camper Initiation Ceremony.



This was pretty much straight from a Boy Scout manual, but it was pretty amazing how a group of grown men can get caught up in beating sticks together and dancing around the leaping flames.  Initiates recited the promise to return to Cayo Costa.  When Edwin was chosen by the Divining Rod of Leadership, there was really some concern that he would be passed through the Flames of Rebirth.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Edwin remained untoasted.


Edwin, in a moment of inspiration, calmed the pagan beasts by initiating song.  At this point we sang every show tune, patriotic song, television theme and 60s folk song (see Everglades National Park trip) we knew.  Adjacent campers admitted later that the them song from The Brady Bunch was most beguilingly rendered. The evening ended with a late night dip in the Gulf by some of the braver members of the group.  Late night in this case is about 10:30 PM.


On Monday, the weather turned downright ornery.  We waved farewell to the kayak group as they headed off into overcast skies and light fog.  We huddled under the dining tarp during the worst of the downpours.  By the time it was time to go, the rain had stopped.  Those who walked out to the lagoon experienced the sight of thousands of swifts skimming the surface--an awesome sight!


By the time we were gathering up to leave, the weather cleared, and Cayo Costa bid us a sunny farewell.  We will return to Cayo Costa...next year.