A Camping We Must Go.Posted: September 26, 2011
I have often said that I could live the rest of my life in an airlock in outer space and never miss going outside. Needless to say, I’m not really an outdoorsy person. I like my air – conditioned. My bathrooms – indoors. My showers – hot. And my bed – high off the ground. But this coming Saturday, nature and I have a date with destiny: I am going camping with my family. Outside. In a tent. All night long.
Why, you ask, would I do such a thing? In a heavily ironic twist of fate, I find myself the co-leader of my ten-year-old son’s Cub Scout den. I, along with my sister-in-law, are responsible for helping seven boys learn a variety of nature-related skills on their way to becoming Boy Scouts. Though I could not be less qualified for this work, I was willing and available to help, so I got the job.
For most of the skills we have to teach the boys, we can either call in a professional to help (knot-tying, wood whittling, or CPR) or we can do a quick-study and teach them ourselves (baking soda volcanoes, recycling projects, and bicycle safety). But this year, the boys have to earn their Outdoorsman Activity Badge and this requires – you guessed it – spending time outdoors. So we are all going on a Cub Scout Family Camp this Saturday. Outside. In a tent. All night long.
I had actually hoped never to go camping again. I went once when I was nineteen and living in Colorado for the summer with three friends. We, or rather, they decided it would be fun to go camping for a night. We, or rather, they were wrong. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember a few important lessons I learned that night:
- Building a fire is harder than it looks.
- Cold hot dogs do not taste good.
- Never underestimate a 30% chance of rain.
- Not all tents are waterproof.
- One can never wear too much bug spray.
- Fear of a bear attack will keep a girl up all night.
- Any activity in which you have to “watch out for snakes” is not for me.
- It is not possible to “hold-it” all night when you’ve had a certain amount of diet coke.
- Going to the bathroom outside in the dark when you’re a girl can be tricky and upsetting.
- You can get poison ivy anywhere on your body.
I survived my one night of camping, considered it a victory that I didn’t go sleep in the car, and checked it off my to-do list forever. But here I am, too many years later, and there Camping is, on my list again. And this time I can’t even comfort myself by complaining about it. As a den leader, I have to show enthusiasm and excitement about camping! I have to model for the kids a positive attitude, a willingness to jump in, and if not show a love for nature, then at the very least hide my contempt for it. And I’ll have to do it all outside. In a tent. All night long.
I’d like to say that maybe I will learn to enjoy communing with nature this time around, but I am too old for that kind of naïve optimism. My only real goal is to make it through the experience without the boys picking up on my aversion to great outdoors. Second to that, I’m hoping for a dry forecast, a snake-free tent, and a personal state of semi-dehydration that will allow me to make it through till morning without needing a potty break. Because whatever else I will be this weekend – itchy, scared, cold, hungry – I will definitely be outside. In a tent. All night long.
Wish me luck.