Have you ever been camping?

Ahh…camping. Cozied up by the fire on a cool night, watching the stars overhead, maybe chasing fireflies. Eating s’mores and snuggling up in a sleeping bag, drifting off to sleep after telling funny or maybe scary stories…

This has not been my experience!

Many years ago, my brother and his wife owned a camper trailer for a while. My wife and our two kids went with them on one camping trip. I’m told it was fun! My wife recently even pulled out photos of said camping trip. I see myself in some of the photos, so cognitively I know I was there. But sadly, I really do not remember the trip at all! Why not? I couldn’t tell you – because I just don’t remember!

There are other camping adventures I do remember…

My wife’s parents and grandparents were campers. They both owned camper trailers, and we went with them a few times – maybe two or three times, max. I recall sleeping in a top bunk of her grandparents’ camper with the ceiling mere centimeters way from my face. It was almost impossible to move without smacking some part of my body on the ceiling. The weather was really, really hot at the time, too. So hot that we all took turns sitting in the plastic “baby pool” someone brought along, then emptying the warm water and refilling from a hose. The camper A/C was either on, in which case it was very very cold inside, or frozen up, and the camper was stifling hot. So going inside to cool off didn’t work too well. My wife and I ended up sleeping in hammocks for that trip. And for me, that meant not really sleeping so much as trying to rest, while swatting at the mosquitoes and other insects buzzing about. But the hammock was still much better than the camper with an out-of-control A/C unit.

We also did some overnight tent camping trips. While in college, we went with another couple on a quick one-night trip. All I remember about that one is the ground under my sleeping bag being SO hard that even though I eventually fell asleep, it was as if I was in a trance – not fully awake or asleep. I started to panic, thinking I’d become paralyzed and started groaning to try and fully wake up my body, but even then I still couldn’t move! My wife finally woke up to my pitiful noises and then proceeded to shake me until I was fully awake! I was SO relieved! I did not sleep the rest of the night!

Another time, when our kids were probably in middle school, we went tent camping with some friends who also had kids around the same age. There were plenty of tents, with air mattresses and pillows, and I thought surely it might go well. We were camping near a lake, and our friends had a ski boat, so after camp was all set up, we spent a couple hours of the afternoon taking rides in the boat, skiing, swimming, tubing, and otherwise having a grand time! Later that day, however, a massive and unexpected storm front rolled in from nowhere! The sky was swirling, and turned black as night, even though it was still hours before sundown. After scrambling to get our families out of the boat and away from the lake while lightning filled the sky around us, my friend and I spent about 30 minutes trying to keep the largest tent from blowing away – by standing in it and bracing it against the incredible winds! Even staked down, the tents were just flapping and collapsing under the incredibly strong winds! Everyone else huddled in the nearby public bathroom area, waiting out the storm. We eventually abandoned ship – er, tent, and took cover in the bathrooms as well. When it was all over, most of our tents were in the lake, our gear strewn everywhere, our food supplies destroyed. After fishing the stuff out of the lake and gathering the mess, we ended up just packing everything up and leaving late that night, grateful we’d survived.

There was one weekend outing when my son and I went with several other dad/son duos for a camping trip – part of a very large regional event. Imagine something like a Boy Scout event, with archery, BB gun and 22 caliber rifle practice, as well as other types of “manly”stuff to do and trophies for the boys who did the best. My son won a prize for 22 rifle shooting. He’s always had a good eye. That was pretty cool. Speaking of cool, though, it was a really, really cold night! My son and I had a small tent to ourselves and ended up zipping our sleeping bags together for warmth. And while I did not sleep very much, I do remember that event with some fondness due to the enjoyable time spent together with my son.

All that to say… yes, I’ve been camping. But honestly, I’m more of hotel guy. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy hotel, as long as the roof doesn’t blow off, the bed is decent and the A/C works!

5 thoughts on “camping

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