This weekend, I was made to go camping. I had to go alone with little Gerry. My Husband conveniently scheduled the band trip over graduation camp out weekend. I knew of the conflict in September. However, the shock of actually having to go camping didn’t settle in until Friday. I always thought that camping alone in a tent with my 9 year old would be plan B. I just hadn’t figured out plan A yet. Well, unfortunately, plan A never materialized and I was forced to endure plan B.
You may think that I am overreacting a bit. Let me fill you in on a little background. I HAVE NEVER BEEN CAMPING. My family never went camping when I was a kid. I did go to Girl Scout camping which I thought was camping but now I have learned it wasn’t really camping. As girl scouts, we stayed in cabins and had real bathrooms next to our cabins. For me, this was camping enough. I do admit to being a bit of a Princess. I don’t do bugs. I don’t do dirt. I do require flushing toilets and clean showers. And if you want me to spend time outside, it must be dry and pleasant. I don’t do well with cold and hot. So you can see how camping is a bit out of the box for me.
The anticipation leading up to the camping was just as traumatic as the camping itself. I really avoided thinking about the whole event until about a week before it was supposed to take place. I still had a little hope that I could come up with Plan A but I was starting to mentally prepare for plan B. I watched the weather. Now, last year the weather was on my side. We had the threat of overnight severe weather so they canceled the overnight part of the trip. I was overjoyed. So I anxiously awaited the weather forecast for this camping trip. And there was a glimmer of hope. They were predicting thunderstorms on Friday night and Saturday morning. Camping was to begin on Saturday afternoon. So I started praying, “Please God, deliver me from this camping trip and delay the storms by one day.” I knew that God was my buddy and I believed that he would answer my prayer. I held out hope that He would give me that miracle all the way until Friday evening. When the weather played out like the original forecast predicted, I got nervous. Especially when I got the e-mail saying that even though it has rained a bunch, they weren’t canceling the campout yet. They were in a “wait and see” mode with the weather. That is when I had a light bulb moment regarding the weather and the camping. The rain was making the camp ground wet. Was I going to have to go camping in the mud? Surely, God would not do this to me! Are these people crazy? This campout should be canceled so I do have to sleep in the mud!
As evening wore on Friday, I got more nervous. That is when I decided to go buy camping supplies. At this point, I was holding out hope that Murphy’s law would come into play. If I buy all the camping supplies, then they will promptly cancel the campout. So I bought the camping supplies, and then checked my e-mail every 5 minutes. My answer came on Saturday morning: “Even though we may run into an occasional shower, the campout is a GO.” My heart stopped. I was really going camping. Camping in the mud and rain. Why is God doing this to me? Why hasn’t He delivered me from this camping problem? I knew what the answer was. It was probably going to draw me closer to my precious child and to Him. But why has he picked camping in the mud and rain to bring this about?! So, in my defeated moment, I began packing our camping supplies. The amount of stuff was amazing. I didn’t have the slightest clue how to get it from my car to the camping site. I was very overwhelmed.
The next morning, I got up, savored my shower and packed the car. We made a quick run to Wal-mart for dreaded rain gear. After dropping Ben off with my wonderful friend, we headed to the camp grounds. It was an hour long drive- an hour for me to think about all the mud and look at the dark clouds. When we arrived, my guardian angel in the form of a man with a pick-up truck helped me get our gear to the camp site. I promptly set up the tent all by myself. It was a nice feeling of accomplishment but I have to admit it wasn’t very hard. Then my friend arrived and I helped her set up her tent. After walking around a bit, we realized that we were the only two women camping without husbands. And my shoes were very muddy.
The first event was a water balloon fight at the pirate ships. The pirate ships are the size of real ships and the boys can launch balloons from the top of one ship and hit the other ship. Of course this was great fun for them. And I was enjoying watching it from the sidelines. Then the Cubmaster made all the leaders get on one ship and put all the kids on the other ship. Then after I reluctantly got on the ship, he suggested that the kids could leave their ship and try to get on the leaders’ ship if they wanted a better shot. This was not a good plan in my opinion. The other leaders made me take a water balloon so I could defend myself. I threw it at a kid but it didn’t break so I immediately went to plan B which was hide. That worked for a while but I was eventually hit and then I was wet. And my shoes were very muddy.
After the pirate ships, we changed, ate dinner and then headed out to the graduation ceremony. I was looking forward to seeing all the boys get their new neckerchiefs and advance to their next rank. We arrived and sat down and everything seemed nice. But really, we were being hunted. In those first few moments of our arrival, the mosquitoes were formulating their assault plan. It took them about 10 minutes for them to start their attack. And it was vicious. These were not normal mosquitoes. They were giant. Remember, everything is bigger in Texas. And they were not deterred by bug spray. I was killing them left and right. They tried every inch of my body and I fended them off as best I could. Unfortunately, they did succeed and I have a bite ON MY FACE. It’s such a wonderful souvenir. And after the battle was over and we were safely back at our camp site, my shoes were still very muddy.
For our evening activity, we had skits around the campfire. This was actually fun to watch. The boys love putting on a show for one another. Our boys ended up doing three skits. Their last skit was like one of those MasterCard commercials where the punch line was “watching Mrs. Lori’s face when we tell her she has to go potty in the woods, priceless.” After the skits, they gave me chocolate and I was happy. They all had a good time cooking their marshmallows and eating their smores. And then it was time to get ready for bed.
I was going to have to use what they considered to be a bathroom. I think it is called a latrine. The toilet is basically a hole in the ground and you bring your own toilet paper. I went inside and conducted a survey before I decided to actually use it. I knew there was a flushing toilet up the road but I also knew it wasn’t very clean. After weighing the long walk to the real bathroom with the conditions at the latrine, I decided to “man up” and use the latrine. I am proud to say I successfully used the facilities without touching anything. But my shoes were still muddy.
Sleeping in the tent went as well as to be expected. I am a very light and fussy sleeper. I did have an air mattress so I wasn’t completely uncomfortable. However, even though I had my ipod, I could still hear the bugs dive bombing the tent as I tried to fall asleep. It took forever for me to actually sleep. And then the wind woke me up at 5:30 and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was very creepy. Even though I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to get up because it was FREEZING outside- well, I guess outside is inside when you are in a tent. Semantics aside, the point is I was COLD. And I was tired. Which I guess is why people kept inquiring about my rough night at breakfast. I guess I didn’t look so good. And the mosquito bite on the face didn’t help. I am really glad I forgot to bring a mirror.
After breakfast, we were to go on a hike. I was actually in better spirits. We were coming to the end of our trip!!!! Anyhow, I wasn’t that worried about the hike. I am a runner so I knew that I could handle the endurance it required. But other than that, I didn’t really know what we would encounter, so I guess you can say ignorance is bliss. As soon as we entered the woods, there it was- poison ivy. It was everywhere. We were hiking in the poison ivy forest. I immediately started to itch. And I was glad we were walking fast. I was worried the poison ivy would pass through my clothes and get me. And then the terrain got kind of rough. We hit a spot where basically people were sliding down this steep hill, hoping for the best. I decided to run down the hill into the arms of my other guardian angel in the form of a sturdy man with a good foot hold. After going up and down and all around in the poison ivy forest, we were allowed to pack up and go get our cars. The best news I heard on the trip yet! However, my shoes were still very muddy.
I must say that the trip wasn’t as horrible as I expected. I tend to think of the worst so I can take out the element of bad surprise. And I did have a good time with my son. He had a blast. It was fun to watch him be a boy with his friends. Being that it is Sunday, we had a short religious service this morning. And the man leading it asked this question: “Why are you here?” All I can say is this: it’s for the love of a 9 year-old boy. I got on the pirate ship for the love of a 9 year-old boy. I used a latrine for the love of a 9 year-old boy. I got harassed by Texas-sized mosquitoes for the love of a 9 year-old boy. I slept outside in a tent for the love of a 9 year old boy. I waded through the poison ivy forest for the love of a 9 year-old boy. I sacrificed my shoes to the mud for the love of a 9 year-old boy. When they put this baby boy in my arms 9 years ago, I knew in the back of my mind that I would have to endure the dreaded camping trip one day. And even though I avoided it like the plague, God made sure that I got to go so I could experience the love of a 9 year-old boy.