"This is the ONLY way to camp!" I joyfully stated, over and over on our Boy Scout campout this weekend. After being delayed on Friday night due to tornado watches (yikes), our troop left early on Saturday morning to head out to the beautiful Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The forecast was partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain and we were all pumped and ready to camp!
We arrived by caravan sometime around 9 and the boys set up their own tents and started making their OWN breakfast while the supervising parental units set up OUR own tents and made OUR own breakfast. And then? Then the adults sat down and, well, SAT. And the kids ran off with their patrol leader boys to do some boy scoutish things that involved ceremonies and sacrifices or something. I don't really know because the parents aren't supposed to be involved! AT ALL. The ENTIRE weekend!!
I know. You're smiling for me and feeling jealous, right? Trust me, you should be! Because it was FREAKING AWESOME. Whenever we camp as a family, I am the organizer and tent assembler. I pack the bags, unload the gear, and try to wrangle my children into helping me without throwing too many tent stakes at their heads (flesh wounds in a campground are just a bitch to keep clean, you know). But when you gather about 30 boys and openly state that the parents are to be Hands Off unless there is a major emergency, you will end up with 10 parents who have nothing to do at a campground! You will then find these parents gleefully playing games of Koobs for hours on end while the boys trek through the woods and return covered in mud and sweat. All the parents needed to make Saturday absolutely perfect was a live band and some wine coolers...
"This is the ONLY way to camp!" was my mantra on Saturday. From breakfast through dinner and s'mores at 9 pm, I was thrilled to watch the boys romping through the tall grasses. Their games morphed from running with sticks and flashlights to flinging leftover spaghetti into a tree (to feed the birds! It's a Spaghetti Tree!) as they ran about like Ralph and Jack (without the unfortunate ending, of course). Even the intermittent drizzle didn't phase these boys; they were living large and loving the freedom.
(Why is there always a "but?")
BUUUUUUTTTT.... Bedtime loomed and, my friends, my son (whom I hadn't seen more of than a blur of hair for hours) was, shall we say, absolutely, completely, exhausted.
He flopped beside my folding chair, "I'm tired. I want to go home. I'm not having any fun!"
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, yeah. He actually said he wasn't having fun! The boy who spent 2 hours chasing zombies and vampires with sticks in the grass wasn't having fun!! Thankfully, I was able to coerce him into changing into sweats and going to bed in his tent where his buddy was already passed out in. I walked across the field to my own tent (being the only single girl in a group of boys and men has its benefits!) and settled down with my book for the night.
And then the rain began to fall.
The steady drumming lulled me to sleep and I was having the most LOVELY dream about being a finalist in a dancing reality show (it could happen) when a conversation outside my tent woke me up. It was with a heavy heart that I admitted (through my clenched eyes) that it was MY child traipsing around in the torrential downpour, flashing his light into the adult tents, loudly "whispering", "Mom? Are you in there?!?"
(All together now: Uuuunnnggggghhh....)
Poking my head through the tent door, "What is going on?!? Why are you guys out of bed?"
"Our tent is totally leaking and we are absolutely soaked! Can I sleep in the van?!?"
"Justin! The van is all the way in the parking lot and it is in the middle of the night! You can't sleep over there without me and you can't leave your buddy alone in the leaking tent! You guys can't sleep in my tent because he's not my son!* GO BACK TO BED!"
I tried. Oh, how I tried! But the tears were flowing and the exhaustion on all of our faces (mine, Justin's, his buddy's and a leader who was woken up before they found me) so I brilliantly said,
"Fine! You and your buddy can sleep in my tent and I will take the van! Get your stuff and get over here!!"
They sleepily but profusely thanked me as they ran off to get their bedding.
I huffily snatched up my spare blankets that were SUPPOSED to be my mattress (Justin's sleeping bag was soaked, so he used mine) from the tent, hoofed my way across the drenched field and pot-holed gravel road and climbed into the van. After assembling myself on the back bench with a pillow and blankets I realized something:
I had a dry bed with a MATTRESS.
This was DEFINITELY the only way to camp!
* Scouting rules include that no adult may be in a tent at any time with a scout.
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