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.