[Editor’s Note: This true story was submitted by local and loyal readers. Names have been changed to protect privacy.]
Nearly 35 years ago, Vince and his sons embarked on a Dad & Lad camping trip with the Cub Scouts. What should have been an enjoyable experience for Vince’s family was anything but.
The reason? Chris and his sons are simply not built for the great outdoors.
Since our June issue of 1808 takes a look at outdoor adventures, we felt it was only fitting for Vince to relive his experience — and all of its memorable quirks. He wrote a letter to a friend, which has been adapted for publication.
I hope things are going well for you; although tolerable may be a better word to describe it.
You mentioned that you, Becky, and Sammi would do spur of the moment vacations. To pack up, go, and look for a campsite was daring and took courage, and it worked for you all. That’s something to be proud of.
I knew you loved to cut a trail through the woods on a four-wheeler, hunting and dressing deer, and camping out. Chris, you would have been a great pioneer person; blazing a trail, staking out your land, building a log cabin, living off the land, and storing food. Some people, like you, have the know-how.
I, on the other hand, ain’t no outdoorsmen. Never was. But the crowning jewel was the Cub Scouts Dad & Lad camping trip with my two sons. Even though it wasn’t my thing, it gave me the opportunity to strengthen my bond with them, who were eager to go. The trip was all day Saturday and leave sometime mid-morning on Sunday after breakfast. Anybody can endure a day and a half. What could go wrong?
Our den met at the church Saturday morning; about 12 kids with dads and three extra troop leaders. We drove the 15-20 miles separately, and when we got there, we unpacked and walked no more than half a mile to our campsite. It was an open area and you could see through the trees; there were shelters … more like Adirondacks. A three-sided hut with a roof, sitting on a concrete slab. This three-sided hut was designed for comfort (and I use that word loosely). We moved our stuff inside our hut; there were four hammocks within each one. Since there were three of us, we didn’t have to share our hut with another family, or a fellow Dad & Lad. Thank heavens for that.
My sons wear contacts and this would create an irritant in the morning: no sinks, just a shelf running the length of a trough that had spigots and primitive showers. But, we decided to worry about that when the need arose. However, it makes a long day when all the little irritants start to pile up. And there were a lot
That afternoon, we had an agenda of “fun” things to do. Each Cub got a set of bow and arrows of the dime store variety, which were to be returned after use. After the scout leaders showed us the safety pointers — and safety always comes first in these outings — the kids shot a few arrows at a target, but that was it. It was time for our next excitement: fishing!
The lake wasn’t that far; we cut through the woods and the three of us went around the lake until we found “our” spot. There we stood on the bank with a pole in the lake … but all we caught were skeeters and gnats. (At this point, I had to remind myself that this was family bonding).
It was now getting close to supper time; we were sticky and hungry. Our experienced scout leaders were big into cooking supper in a nice fire pit with hot rocks. Potatoes, carrots, and meat; a nice stew. After dark, you guessed it! Marshmallows on a stick and more bonding.
Once we were finished sitting around the campfire, it was bedtime. It was 10 p.m., which made for a long night of sleep. But there was no sleep.
Let’s talk about hammocks: They look harmless and innocent. There’s no bed linen, no tucked sheets, and no wiggle room. Once you lay in it, you are there; no tossing, no turning over, no repositioning, no nothing. I must have looked at my Casio watch every 15-20 minutes. Pure torture but again, the bonding thing.
Near daybreak, we woke up and we could reach other’s minds. As good as all this had been, we had had enough and were ready to leave. Having our own hut made it easier to escape. We quietly packed up our stuff and walked out just as it was getting light.
We renamed the trip to the Sad Dad & Lad. Now, when I see tents, fishing gear, and trailer hitches, I break out in hives.
But, I’ll never forget the experience.
Wishing you the best,