I’ve never been into camping. I’m sure much of that reason is that my mom is the reincarnation of Donna Reed — pearls and all. She just doesn’t really do the outdoors, so I was never exposed to it. The poor woman was my Girl Scout troop leader for years (see, Donna Reed again) and was forced to take us “camping” three times. She always managed to do it in cabins, though, as primitive as they were.
When I changed schools in eighth grade, my new best friend asked me to go camping with her and her dad.
So long as my mom didn’t have to go, she was fine with it. I thought it would be a neat experience – especially the canoeing part of it. We were even going to be in a tent, cool!
Here’s what I learned about camping from that experience.
1) Don’t walk on squishy muddy sandbanks in lakes in Minnesota. They’re filled with leeches.
2) Leeches like to sneak in between your toes. And they get really fat after having been there all day long.
3) Always take tarps with you when you go camping. ALL. WAYS.
The first two are probably pretty self explanatory. The good news is that I never was the girly girl who was freaked out about bugs, so as my friend and I were getting ready for bed in the tent and discovered these little vermin gnoshing away between our toes, I simply pulled them off.
And yes, I then threw them outside the tent.
We then went to bed, after trekking back and forth to the latrine where we were able to use the facilities and brush our teeth.
I woke up around ohhhh two or three in the morning. Why? Because I was soaking wet, of course. It was pouring down rain, lightning and thunder. Huge, massive amounts of rain. And said rain was coming into our tent.
Oh, I don’t mean that our tent was leaking. I mean that the tent was sitting on ground that became a huge puddle and the water was seeping into the tent from the bottom up. And perhaps seeping isn’t quite the right word. After all, there were a couple inches sloshing around by the time I woke up.
My friend slumbered on, however. She had a fancy air mattress that her sleeping bag was resting on while I was on the bare ground. I woke her up, and she woke her dad up — and yes, he also had a nice air mattress. We then spent the next few hours trying to wring the water out of my sleeping back and get everything wet out of the tent.
Had my mom been in charge of the expedition, we would simply have piled into the car and gone to find a hotel for the night. I think that was the first time in my life that I was homesick for my mom.
After awhile of trying to dry everything out, we went back to bed. I ended up having to squeeze with my friend into her sleeping bag and have both of us stay on the air mattress. It was a long, cold night. We finally gave up very early in the morning — before the sun was really up in north central Minnesota in the middle of July, that’s early folks.
In fact, now that I think back on it, I don’t remember doing any canoeing. I vaguely remember searching in vain for a laundromat — the other sleeping bags finally got wet, too, as the rain continued to come down — but I think we finally just gave up and came back home.
And you wonder why I’ve never truly been camping again. Let this be a lesson to you — always bring tarp to place under your tent. I will say that I’m an expert in outdoor picnicking and keeping blankets dry and dew-free thanks to this experience.
But camping? Let’s just say that I’m hoping Mister Man is never interested in being a Boy Scout.