|There are still no pictures of me.|
On the homestretch of last week's camping trip, the Scoutmaster turned to me and noted, “I gotta say, Rob, I’m really impressed with your camping ability.”
I don’t camp. I made this clear to him when he asked me to come on the trip six months ago.
I know how to camp, but I don’t.
One of my first camping experiences was “gold mining” with my father in the Toiyobe National Forest. Gold mining, in the McCandless dictionary, roughly translates as “fixing equipment that may or may not be used in the process of actual mining.” We didn’t use a tent. Instead, we had a sheet of Visqueen that we laid over a rope tied between two trees. It was open on either end, and I remember no end of bugs that came into the shelter. The first night, we slept in a down pour, in the dark, in what was apparently a creek bed that flooded.
So . . . yeah.
Since then, I’ve camped as a scout with Troop 220. We were a non-LDS troop in Bountiful. Including summers at Camp Steiner, we had a “woodcutting” camp, where we literally cut eight-foot logs, loaded them into the back of a tractor-trailer and brought them back to be cut into firewood. We sold the firewood as a fundraiser for our “snowmobile camp”.
Snowmobile camp was in West Yellowstone Montana and we stayed in a hotel.
If there were merit badges for either of these camps, I never got mine.
I’ve also camped with some excellent friends, hiking into the High Unitas and East Fork of the Bear. I didn't hate the camping, but what I learned is that I was there for the friendship. Camping is not a thing I actually enjoy. It's course, and rough, and irritating. I also learned that pop-up tents are best for car camping, and that a blow-up mattress is your friend.
I will patently refuse to do any camping where these two items are impractical.
Thus, this past week was rendered only mostly inconvenient by the requisite camping. I forgot my iPad, where I’d downloaded several hours of movies and television to watch, but I did have my Kindle with three or four novels. I’m still not certain what to make of the lady who commented, “All this beautiful nature surrounding us, and you’re reading a digital book?”
I'm not clear why reading was ok, but doing so on a modern convenience that didn't cost any trees to sacrifice their lives was not.
Perhaps she forgot her blow up mattress.
Food was served in a mess hall type commissary, and while it was hit or miss, the saving grace was that I didn’t have to cook it AND I didn’t have to watch the boys attempt to cook it. Each morning, I went on a run, looping around the camp twice, for a nice 3.5 miler. I’d grab a shower—so-called by the camp staff—then sit in my chair, read, and chase the shade to try to stay cool. During this time, my son was off at his climbing merit badge class, which took up the whole morning. After lunch, he and I would figure out an extra merit badge to work on before his Chess class.
Yep, he has his Chess merit badge now. That’s a thing!
I ended up with a lot of stories, most of them of the “shaking my head” variety, but that didn’t make the trip any less enjoyable. I adopted the attitude that this was not my monkeys and not my circus. So long as there weren’t bugs in my tent, and the air mattress stayed reasonably full, I was in good shape.
They're weren't. It did. I was.
Camping trip successful.