Our only child was an extrovert. An extrovert with FOMO (fear of missing out). If his friends were doing an activity, Dalton had to do it. T-ball turned into Pony League. AYSO turned into club soccer. Going to the YMCA alerted Dalton to possibilities such as Jr. Lakers basketball, gymnastic class, kid yoga, and porpoise club. Porpoise club gave way to Junior Lifeguards.
There was also Cub Scouts. Dalton was all over that: “You build a miniature car! There’s races! And there’s a camping! And you get to spend the night on a Navy ship! Mom, please we have to join!”
“Sure thing, buddy,” I agreed. Visions of a night alone in the house danced in my chronically sleep deprived brain. “Seems like an excellent program with lots of father-son time!”
“Wait, what?” asked my husband, who hadn’t been paying attention.
“Yay!” yelled Dalton. “Camping!”
“Camping with Dad,” I corrected. “Poor mother will have to stay home with the pets.”
Andy reluctantly got a tent and sleeping bags. He also got air mattresses. I pulled out some old camping plates, tin cups, utensils, and a battery-operated light/ radio. Andy eyed my stash and said accusingly, “You’ve been camping before.”
Andy laughed and said, “No one goes camping when you grow up in Hawaii. It’s like road trips.”
“I saw campgrounds when we were in Hawaii.”
“Those are for tourists.”
“I bet other people in Hawaii went camping.”
“White people, probably. Everyone else is like, ‘I spent so much on this house, and you want me to sleep in a tent?!”
“Whereas my mom dragged us all out camping when Baby Brother was three months old.”
“Didn’t Baby Brother spend his first month in the NICU?!”
“Yep. I watched him while everyone else was setting up tents and swearing. But the wildlife programs at the ranger station were pretty cool. All about owls and how to avoid being attacked by the raccoons who got trapped in trashcans—”
“Attacked by raccoons? That’s a real camping thing?!”
“It is when they’ve been stuck in a trashcan for hours. And then in my twenties I did a kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands where we camped out every night.”
“Since you’re the one with all the experience, maybe you should—”
“Oh hell no.”
On their inaugural Cub Scout camping trip, Andy forgot the sleeping bags. He texted hopefully from the mountains: I guess we will have to come home.
I utilized the Mom Network and caught a mom before she left. She brought two extra sleeping bags.
Try to imagine Andy’s excitement.
Dalton had a fantastic time, relishing the abundance of activities and playmates.
Andy hated it. He complained about the food, the showers, the dust, the ill-behaved children, the crappy parents who ignored their ill-behaved children, and the hard ground (even with the air mattress).
They were home by 7 AM on Sunday morning. After a two-hour drive.
On all subsequent Cub Scout trips, they were also home by 7 AM. Andy would immediately go sleep in his own bed for 5 hours.
Camping Torture only lasted about 3 years. Once Dalton got serious about soccer, practices, weekend games, and tournaments conflicted with Cub Scouts. And as Andy was quick to point out, “We’re paying too much money for club soccer to miss a single game!”
That man sold the tent and air mattresses as fast as he could.
Several years later, Dalton asked, “Hey, Dad, why don’t we go camping again?”
Andy shot Dalton a reproving look and answered:
“Son. We are HOTEL people.”
Shoutout to Mark My Words for his inspirational post about indefinitely postponing camping.