Saturday, June 12, 2010

My campout adventure

I don't know how to set up a tent. There I have said it! Not proud of that fact, but that was the truth, until a couple of weeks ago. Sure I can help anyone that knows what they are doing, but actually setting one up on my own, I hadn't done that. Now I have and it was really easy. Being a city guy all my life, I never had a desire to camp, in fact the thought was anything but appealing. At 40 years old, I can say my opinion has changed. I am now looking forward to my next camping adventure.

I went with Austyn, my 10 year old, and his boy scout troop, on an overnight to a state park close by. I really had no desire to go, but AJ was very excited and some of the other dads were going as well, so I didn't really think I had a choice. He is a Webelos now and parents aren't always required to go along on these trips. When he first heard about the campout, he politely told me that he did not want me to come as he wanted to do this on my own. Although I was a little disappointed, that my son didn't want me around, that quickly turned to excitement when I realized that I didn't have to camp out.

About a week or so before the campout I got an email confirming all those attending the campout. You can understand my amazement when I read every dads name on the campout list except mine. I thought it was a campout for the boys so they could get used to being outdoors without us dads! Well...I didn't have much choice and after talking with AJ, I emailed back that I would in fact now be attending too. Man, was I excited.

So the day came and I waited as long as I possibly could before leaving for the campout. One of my buddies that was already out at the park, kept texting me to find out when I would be there. Finally I decided, I couldn't put off the inevitable any longer and AJ and I packed up and headed out. It was a quick ride and we were at our campsite within a half hour. Oh the fun was about to begin! As AJ headed off to play touch football with the boys, I was left to complete the task I dreaded...tent set up. Wasn't this supposed to be about the boys doing things for themselves? I picked a good spot next to my buddy and got to work. Luckily for me the other dads were off doing their own things so no one would have to watch me as I messed up my tent. I made the mistake at looking at the other tents and how they well constructed they were and worried that mine would look like Charlie Brown's version. Surprisingly, it went much better than expected and within about 10 minutes, I had finished my tent without incident. It was at that point that I thought that maybe this night wouldn't be as bad as I thought.

After filling up our air mattress and filling up the rest of our overnight supplies in the tent, I was ready to relax and enjoy the rest of my night with AJ. Now...what about food? That question was quickly answered when our two den leaders started pulling out all their cooking supplies. Just like Mary Poppins and her garment bag, these guys just starting pulling out an endless supply of cooking utensils, food, grills and more. I was in heaven and so were the boys...I mean the other dads. We ate so well that night. Not only did we eat well, but the leaders did everything for us! I don't even get that kind of service at home, very often. All my worries were gone and I was truly enjoying myself.

The rest of the evening involved a campfire and lots and lots of smores. After the fire had gone out, AJ and I headed to bed in our tent. It was great feeling being close to him like this. Usually I have to share my attention with others, but not tonight. We stayed up for awhile just talking about the day and all the things that were on his mind. It was in that moment that I was feeling really bad about not wanting to go on this campout. In that moment, there is no where I would rather be!

The next morning began just as the night before had ended. When I finally woke up at 8:00(I think I was the last to get up), breakfast was all ready and the den leader met me at my tent door with my plate! I was very eager to show my appreciation and scarfed it all down. After breakfast the leaders had some learning time for the boys followed by another football game. I decided to let AJ have fun and broke down the tent myself while he played with his buddies.

After everyone was cleaned up we gathered for a closing talk. We talked about the best and the worst part of the campout. When it got to AJ, he made the campout complete for me. He said the best part was spending time with his dad and the worst part was listening to his dad snore last night. He filled my bucket to the top and I laughed so hard! He has another campout scheduled in August that I don't think I will be able to attend and that is a bummer for me because I will remember this one for a long time.