Friday, May 1, 2009

Camping with Dad

Sitting on two old pine stumps we watched the campfire. Our island home is small and steep. It feels like a tiny volcanic isle jutting up from the south pacific. The setting sun is on our shoulders as Braden and I prepare our first hobo dinners. His is with hamburger, potatoes, and carrots. Mine is the same with the addition of onions. The onions are mounded high because Braden didn't take his share. Off to our left bathed in the glow of a Coleman lantern Arica sits quietly in a camping chair reading a magazine.....


This is the picture in my mind of the first camping trip our family will take. Now that warmer weather has fully arrived I can't help but think of camping. Arica and I like to take my fishing boat packed with camping gear out onto the lake. We find a nice secluded island and make it our home. We didn't camp last year because Arica was pregnant. The thought of making my pregnant wife sleep on the ground in our tent didn't radiate genius. I think we made the right choice.

I've been camping since I was a Boy Scout. I was big into the scouting thing for several years. In all my wisdom I quit one merit badge and a project short of being an eagle scout. I thought my Dad was going to disown me, but it has not caused me any problems later in life. I was not denied entry to college or turned down for any job offer because I was not an eagle scout. Surprisingly even my Fraternity let me gain admittance. The issue of Eagle Scout has never come up.

I quit scouting because it was too much meetings and not enough outdoors. I loved camping. That was the draw for me. When our troop went out for a weekend campout it was the best. I loved cooking on the fire. We made hobo dinners almost every time. Hobo dinners are hamburger, potatoes, onions, and maybe carrots wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals. Once a few years back I put a twist on the hobo dinner when Arica and I went camping. I made it into a meatloaf. It was the best meatloaf I've ever cooked. Arica agrees. There is just something about cooking on the campfire.

Camping helps a young guy learn about all sorts of other things as well. I still use knots that I learned from camping all the time. You learn about conservation and care for the environment. You can learn survival type skills as well. Hopefully none of us will ever need them, but it's a comfort to know certain things when you are out in the woods. I am no Les Stroud or Bear Grylls, but I can hold my own.

Now as a father I can't wait until Braden can go camping with me. My Dad was one of the scout leaders so we shared all our camping adventures together. Scouting doesn't seem to be so big anymore. I don't hear much about it. I don't care if Braden is a Boy Scout or not. We don't need an organization or any other type of structure to enjoy camping together.

I often wonder what things Braden will like to do with me. You readers have heard me wonder about baseball, Star Wars, fishing, and Seinfeld. Watching things on TV is up in the air. Braden might not share my sense of humor. He might not share my tastes in movies, but I am almost certain that he will share my interests when action is involved. He will surely want to spend time with his Dad. That will lead him into the wonderful outdoors where we can share a love of animals, fishing, hunting, and camping that will be with us forever. Maybe the night on our first camping trip will go something like this.


....After the sun set we continued sitting by the fire. The stump had started to make my backside sore so I moved to the ground. A cloudless sky shined with the brilliance of a million stars freed from the oppression of city lights. The night was silent except for the crackling of pine logs in the fire and an occasional hoot from an owl across the lake. It was a perfect night until out of nowhere our dogs Otter and Abbey stormed into the campsite panting and growling. They proudly displayed a dead possum as their trophy. They slung water and mud on everything as we all dodged the disease ridden prize. It was at this time that I realized reality is never quite as perfect as our dreams, but spending time with family is always better than you can imagine.


19 comments:

cIII said...

There is, truly, no greater Thing in the World than teaching your kids to Camp and generally "get along" outside.

We "baptized" our oldest in the cool rivers of the Smoky Mtns. when she was 2. The youngest has yet to meet the same rivers, but as you say....It's getting warmer...and my patience is wearing thin.

Good stuff, Otter.

Daddy Files said...

Dude, you've made me miss camping so much. We used to go every year but it's been almost two years since we've gone due to pregnancy and the birth of our son.

The best steak I ever cooked was over an open flame while camping in the Berkshires and just the smell of the pine trees and fresh air...it's indescribable. I actually don't trust people who hate camping because it seems inhuman not to love it.

Andrew's Daddies said...

I can't wait for times like this when we can head to tahoe, rent a cottage, have bbqs and go on hikes (that's our version of camping)..

WeaselMomma said...

I hope it's a great trip.

surprised mom said...

Wow! Great post! I hope you get this camping trip and many more. It sounds like a wonderful time.

Jason said...

I remember camping as a kid, but not as fondly as you LOL. I'm not much of an outdoorsy person. I hope you get your trip and it turns out as wonderful as you've imagined it.

Mocha Dad said...

I took my son on our first camping trip last weekend. Check out the blog for a full account. I can't wait until my younger son is old enough to join us.

Colorado Dad said...

Have fun! I have nothing but fond memories of camping with my dad as a kid.

mommaruth said...

My dad & I used to hobos every time we went camping! What great memories ;) we always used that worcestshire sauce with ours & it came out great - there is absolutely NOTHING in the world that can compare to campfire food! GREAT POST :)

Momo Fali said...

The first camping trip we took as a family included our one year old dog and our six month old daughter...who was on a heart monitor. There was no running water at the campground and you had to walk a 1/2 mile to the bathroom. It was GREAT!

Rob said...

My family growing up camped alot so I am not sure why we are not big campers because I think my wife and kids would enjoy it. I hope you and your family enjoy many camping trips together. Happy FF!

New Dad Blog said...

Teaching your kids to unplug and enjoy the simple things is great. I'm going to be a big proponent of camping when the kid is older.

Super Mega Dad said...

I'm with DaddyFiles...really got me missing camping as well. We used to camp ALL THE TIME when I was a kid and I LOVED it. I really need to get off my butt and start doing this type of thing with my kids. The wife might have to stay home, however, she's against anyplace without electricity.

Great post, Otter!

john said...

growing up we did alot of camping, maybe thats why Im over it. I hope you get to go on that camping dream.

teri said...

This is the first time I've been to your blog. This post was so good that I actually read through the whole thing...something I don't often do because is so precious. This was worth my time. Nice job.

KWG said...

Sweet. I can't wait to take Bea camping some day. Mama A doesn't really want to camp, but she said she'd go (sometimes). I haven't camped since I was a boy and man did I love fishing!

Out-Numbered said...

Hey bro. Thanks for all the love on Out-Numbered. I just added you to my blogroll. Keep up the great work. Your blog it fantastic!

seashore subjects said...

Sounds like a wonderful plan! Camping is a great excuse to unplug and enjoy each other.

Jennifer said...

Great post. I am in the middle of writing about this topic (sort of) and how I wonder if kids will still learn any of these skills or get to enjoy nature the way I did and still do. It's good to know there is at least one other family out there that is passing on the tradition.