Part of my job as a camp host is to make sure the outhouses, more fancily called vault toilets, have toilet paper. We got new outhouses with the stimulus bill and they are massive, solid concrete structures. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

The new outhouses arrived on a huge flatbed trailer along with all sorts of orange construction equipment. This was back in 2010. One significant improvement from the old wooden ones was the locking bar, TP dispenser. Believe it or not, campers used to steal the toilet paper. One of the new bathrooms is a double with a door for men and a door for women. They are identical inside but someone thought that sex specific bathrooms were “how we’ve always done things.” The double unit got installed not exactly level and the back corner of the woman’s side is a bit low. When it rains, water runs under the door and accumulates in the back corner.

Add to this picture the fact that the lock on the women’s door wasn’t working reliably. Sometimes it would lock itself when the door shut. Until the new handle arrived I posted a note and put a small rock by the door.

That propped open door was an invitation to the resident squirrels. The water in the corner must have looked like we considerately made them their own wading pool or drinking fountain.

Here’s the story. I have the back of my car outfitted with a huge box of TP and cleaning supplies. I load the rolls of TP unto my broom handle. As I approach these bathrooms with my broom in hand, I hear a squirrel chattering from the woman’s side. I open the door wide to see a critter at the edge of the water. He sees me and runs behind the toilet. I think I’ll use my broom to herd him toward the door. He does not ‘get’ what I am trying to do and the chatter level turns to screeches. I realize that me and my broom are just scaring him.

Plan B is I prop the door wide open with a bigger rock hoping the little guy will leave. Ha! What happens is that another squirrel enters. Not a good thing. Pretty soon several campers have gathered around the door to watch a couple of squirrels play at the edge of the water. One camper leaves and returns with a jar of peanuts. He throws one in and a squirrel gets it. Clever camper keeps tossing nuts making a path that will lead the squirrels out of the bathroom and hopefully back to the woods. The process probably takes 10 or 15 minutes. The camper with the nuts gets a round of applause from the now small crowd.

His parting shot. “I don’t think one can herd squirrels. They’re too smart for that. But a few well placed nuts…..”