Soggy Camping


You mean we’re going to be here all night?

A couple weekends ago (sorry I’m a little behind) some friends invited Martina and I to go camping with them. It was a pretty perfect deal: they would find the camping spot and plan the meals. All we had to do was bring our stuff up and camp. To top it all off, they were bringing their little boys (ages 2 and 6 months) so we didn’t have to feel weird about bringing along our little guy for his first campout! A day away from work, spending time with friends and family, and just relaxing out in nature, how could we say no!

As I mentioned in another post, camping is a great way to escape and recharge from time-to-time. It was fun to sit around watching our kids explore and play in the mud – even though I knew it meant Boston was going to need a major bath. Our kids would follow each other around and share toys. While we adults sat and talked, or just relaxed in the sunshine while a breeze rustled the trees.

As the day progressed, clouds started to fill the sky, not the fluffy kind that look like monkeys and dragonflies. The kind that look like, “Oh crap.” But we decided to stick it out; we were after all having steak, dutch oven potatoes, and dutch oven pumpkin cake for dinner – and I love me some dutch oven cooking. The rain cam – a small trickle – while we ate. We gathered under the tarp over our picnic table and stayed pretty dry. The rain remained light and even stopped. Unfortunately, our friends’ kids were getting really cranky and in the end our friends decided one of them needed to take them home rather than stay another night (we weren’t too far from ours homes and they had come up a day before us). So my friend’s wife packed up the kids and headed home for the night, promising to return for breakfast (again, we were gonna have dutch oven breakfast, so who would want to miss that?).

Not even an hour had passed before the storm gods decided to grace us with their presence. The rain returned, with reinforcements. We did what we could to keep things out of the rain, but it just kept coming. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled. We stayed under the tarp, hoping against hope the rain would subside, but with no luck. In the end we decided to just call it a night. In the short time it took us to get from the picnic table to the tent we each become decidedly more soggy.

The rain, lightning, and thunder continued and though there was a brief let up in the middle of the night, and I thought it was over, the storm gods had tricked me. It started up stronger than before. The tent kept us dry and the new sleeping bags Martina and I bought kept us warm (though Martina needed a couple extra blankets to get to that cozy warm she likes to sleep in). And while it wasn’t the most restful of nights for me, I considered it a blessing that the lightning and thunder didn’t wake Boston up, who I think actually had a really restful night.

When morning came we made a fire, set things out to dry in the sun, and started getting breakfast ready – a hardy mountain man breakfast. I thought Martina was going to be a little cranky about the poor weather, but on the contrary, she was so excited to have made it through the night. She said it made us hard core campers and she was glad we had stuck it out. My wife rocks.

We got home exhausted – weird how relaxing in nature can make me so tired – but it was an awesome adventure. Our friends definitely came through on an awesome weekend, we might even make it an annual event to get together and camp for a weekend during the summer. Annual adventure, count us in!


Boy Scouting

My little tent in the woods

My little tent in the woods

Like a lot of guys, I was once a Boy Scout of America. In fact, I even became an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America). I can’t say that I am a hard core outdoor wilderness guy, but I do enjoy camping, hiking, and the great outdoors from time to time. Now as an adult I am a Boy Scout leader in my neighborhood; working specifically with the 11 year old scouts. This past weekend was one of three campouts we go on as a group.

It had been a long time since I’d last been camping, and to be with a group of 11 year old boys is a whole other story. The first thing I noticed when I got to our camp was just how quiet it was. No traffic. No loud music. No technology hum. All the sounds that make up the background noises of my life seemed to vanish. I felt a little guilty pulling out my iphone to check if I had service — nothing. It was so refreshing.

The camp we were at was an organized scout camp, so there were camp programs and activities. The first night we walked about a quarter mile on what was called the Honor Trail. Every few meters or so we would stop as a camp councilor would talk to us about one aspect of the Scout Law. We were each asked to walk in silence and with our flashlights off. It gave each of us time to reflect on becoming a better person. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see constellations above us. It was beautiful. The moon eventually came out and my eyes had become so adjusted that the moonlight seemed incredibly bright.

The view at 7 am after 2.5 miles of hiking

The view at 7 am after 2.5 miles of hiking

The next morning we went on an early morning hike – 5 miles before breakfast (which for me is an accomplishment). The hike was great. The quiet morning before it got too hot and the incredible scenery that I don’t get from my office’s windows. Added to that was the success of each young scout that completed this trek – waking up early, on a Saturday, to do something a lot of them weren’t even sure they wanted to do. By they end, they all agreed it had been worth it.

A part of my faith is to set Sunday apart as a sacred day; to take that time and reflect on how I can serve others, improve my relationship with God, and work on being a better person. I think camping can work the same way. I get caught up in the daily grind of life and taking the occasional overnighter to get away from it all is empowering. Camping is one of my favorite summertime adventures (we’ll talk about winter campouts another time). And hopefully I’ll get to do more.