Thursday, May 29, 2008

Take A Kid Camping

I had almost forgotten how much fun camping was when I was younger. How easy it was to impress a nine year old boy with stories around the campfire. I had also forgotten how many monsters one can imagine in the flickering shadows of a fire burning down to embers. The hoot of an owl, the howl of a coyote, a bull in the back pasture bellowing across the fields, all become something scary and unknown at that age. I no longer enjoy sleeping in a tent due to a bad back from a wreck a few years ago but I remember the thrill it was when I was nine years old. I can remember waking up to the smell of bacon, eggs and campfire toast and how wonderful those smells were to me. I do not know why but even the plainest food tastes so good on a camping trip. I can remember how excited I was to learn new skills such as shooting and firearm safety, baiting a trotline or casting a bait for fish. It was always an adventure to see what wildlife we would see and hear on camping trips and what animal secrets we would learn.

Things are a lot different these days and lots of kids are raised by single parents and do not get to have the outdoor experiences that most of us remember. My wife and I took our kids camping and created memories that will last a lifetime. My grandparents and father that taught me much about the outdoors have been gone for years but my mom is still here and doing well. They all went out of their way to take me on outdoor adventures and teach me the skills of an outdoorsman. I am so appreciative of all the times they took me along when it would have been easier to leave me at home. Mom called last week and asked if I would take her, my sister and my nine year old nephew camping. I could not say no so off we went to enjoy the outdoors. My youngest daughter was home from college so she and my wife went along also to enjoy this foray into the wild.

My idea of a camping trip these days is a motel or cabin with all the modern conveniences and a good bed. I do not do well in a tent and have the miles and years to justify why I no longer do it unless necessary. I slept little on this trip and thus had a lot of time to think. I had almost forgotten what it was like to get out camping but not really. I just needed my memory jogged by a nine year old boy making his own memories of life.

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