I took my grandson on his very first overnight camping trip Saturday night, which was a huge success, but was touch and go for the last two weeks, and on Saturday morning it may never have happened had not his Pop-Pops not spoken with him and asked him to go… and had he not been bribed with offers of rewards from his dad and his step-mom who had come to the house to pick up his twin sister for her weekend visit.
We’re talking about a six year old, who confessed he was very nervous about sleeping in the woods, and thought we were going far into the forest.
His scout shirt “disappeared” when he heard it was a requirement to have it at the campfire Saturday night! We tore up the whole house looking for it and it never showed up. When we asked him if he knew where it was, he had a difficult time keeping a smile from his face, and to his credit, did a good pretense of looking for his shirt.
This boy isn’t afraid of riding a horse bareback, all by himself around the field. He took to it naturally the first time he got on “Horse’s” back (yes that’s his name), and told his Pop-Pop to let go, he could do it by himself… and he did!
Click on any image to see it on Fine Art America!
He can be a little closed-minded to trying new foods, and usually needs a lot of coaxing, especially when he has pronounced something as “disgusting”. “That’s disgusting! I won’t eat it!” Then after he tries it, his opinion does a 180 and he then says he loves it.
So that was our tactic in convincing him to go. We reminded him how usually he says he doesn’t like something and then ends up loving it. He was adamant and wasn’t buying our reasoning. I told him we’d go out there and if he didn’t like it we’d come home and he could sleep in his own bed. He wasn’t giving in – he was sure he was being tricked! I was serious however, I’d have brought him home if he really didn’t want to stay.
Then his dad got on the phone and called his grandfather; when Pop-Pops spoke with him, David agreed to go with me. I’m an experienced camper, having gone on many trips in my own childhood, and having taken my daughter on quite a few when she was a kid, so she knew he’d be in good hands, even though it had been a few years since I’d last gone.
Not so long ago really, since my second husband and I had gone, but I had given my camping gear to my step-son, thinking I was done with sleeping out in a tent!
So with only a couple sleeping bags left, I had to assemble some gear, and I really didn’t want to spend all of my new paychecks, since I’m still paying down debts (from getting out of the marriage).
I found a usable tent, screen shelter, a folding camp chair and a water dispenser at the local flea markets, some metal handled frying pans and a pot at Goodwill. I had a folding table from the days when I had a studio in the spare room and I already had a cooler.
Our equipment was basic, but I did put the tent up inside the screen shelter, (and the bug invasion inside the tent was about nil, since I found only one to kill. Not bad at all!)
On the drive I asked him if he had any idea where the shirt might show up once we got home, and he blurted out that it would be in the garage. Oops! He realized his mistake! “No Grandma, it won’t be the garage. I’m positive it won’t be in the garage!” Hmmm… “Okay David!” I had a hard time not smiling! (In a couple of days I’ll have a “conversation” with his mom in front of him, and I’ll let it slip that it would be really awesome if the shirt will magically show up in the laundry basket!”)
When we arrived at the campground, we had to drive around a little to find the field that his scout pack was camping out in. The grass has already come in nicely after the winter, so it wasn’t a muddy field! All the picnic tables had been assembled in one central area, and a shade tent put up, so the group could eat together. People had brought camp stoves, which all went into the central “kitchen area.
We had arrived a little after most people had arrived and already put up their tents, since it had taken so long to convince David to go, but once he saw all the tents set up, and how many of his friends were there, he turned to me, smiled and said, “Grandma, I think I’ll stay here tonight!”
“Yeah!” I said, but secretly I was hoping he’d decide not to since the sky was looking a little crowded with gray clouds starting to fly in, and the weather forecast was calling for rain and thunderstorms on Sunday. I really didn’t want to wake up soggy and wet!
It splattered with rain while we set up camp, but I determinedly continued rather than throwing in the towel, the rain stopped, and the sun came out again.
David ran off very quickly to play with his friends, while I finished getting everything set up for the night. I figured we’d stay the day at least, and if the rain came back I’d throw everything into my pickup and we’d go home.
Once our camp had been set up, there was a long stretch of time ahead of us before supper time, and I hadn’t brought toys, games, my art supplies or even a notebook for writing in! I know right? Luckily the pack leader blew his whistle and had us all assemble at the tables.
We were all going on a 3 mile hike into Greenville, for all who wanted to that is! David wasn’t interested, at least not right away he wasn’t. He was much more interested in convincing me to take him to the bathroom building, where there was a soda machine, and he hoped he could possibly convince me to let him buy one with the three quarters he had in his pocket.
By the time he got me over to the machine, and we had determined that he needed another 3 quarters to make his desired purchase, the group of scouts with their parents and siblings had already left on their walk.
I wasn’t convinced he needed a soda, seeing how I had brought a box of juice pouches for him and plenty of bottled green tea for me, which he had developed a taste for, so I didn’t give him the additional money. 😦
By the time our exchange was done, he decided he wanted to go on the walk after all, and wanted to hurry to catch up to the group. Dude! The group left 20 minutes ago! …and Grandma can’t run!
So, we decided to go on an adventure walk, and I let him lead the way. So rather than taking the direct route to the bike path the group had gone on, we took the meandering way around the campground, found a small pathway to the outdoor chapel, where he got up on the stage and tried it out for size, looking like a small, junior of his preacher grandfather!
We looked at a raspberry bush just starting to grow its flower blossoms which would later grow into the berries, and he found out quickly not to swing his hands through the bushes! Luckily he only got one small scratch, but he did try to get a lot more sympathy out of me than it merited!
We continued to meander until we came upon the bike path, which he wanted to explore it. It was quite humid, so I wasn’t thinking that we’d go the entire distance, particularly since the group had arranged for rides home, and we’d most likely miss out, so I really didn’t want to end up carrying a tired boy all the way back to camp again!
We walked quite a way… David being a 6 year old was very enchanted with various sticks he found, and enacted sword fighting and various activities known only to himself as we went along.
I was looking for a good turning around point, when all of a sudden he gave a shout and announce we had caught up with the group! Actually, it was one of his buddies, his mom and Grandma, who were walking back to camp. I told the mom this was now our turning point, and we all walked back to camp together, with the two boys actively engaged in their imaginary play, both with sticks.
I think it’s the age, because I had seen other boys their age with sticks too, but the older boys seemed to have lost their interest in them. These are kids who preferred to play with electronic toys, but put them in a field surrounded by trees and they go back to old fashioned stick play!
We strolled our way back into camp, went to our tents and rested for a little, then David announced he wanted to go on a journey this time. “Didn’t we just do that?” I asked. “No,” he said, “that was an adventure!”
“Okay Grandson, let’s go!” I said. “Lead the way!”
So we went on another meandering walk, this time all around the campground, gathering sticks. Not too long or thick that a hot-dog couldn’t be put on, and not too thin that they’d break under the weight. We ended up with quite a good collection, which Grandma had to carry, since David was finding them!
Once we went back to camp, we went over to where the Weeblos were learning how to build a campfire, and saw they had made an impressive stack. We offered our sticks, and were told just to put them in a pile near one of the pick up trucks.
Next, David had some quality stick play time with his buddies, while Grandma relaxed by the tent in the folding chair and sipped green tea!
Supper time! Our dinner had been cooked in cast-iron dutch kettles, on a bed of hot coals with more mounded on top.We lined up to have egg noodles spooned onto our paper plates, and to have chicken medallions in a cream sauce ladled on top. Yum!
We were very hungry from our exercise and the fresh air, we ate everything!
After eating, it was time to clean up, and have the scouts put on their uniform shirts, in preparation for the campfire! I quietly spoke with a couple of the leaders, and explained how our day had started. “No problem!” I was told. He’d wear a plain green polo shirt and put his neck scarf on, so at least he sort or, kind of, looked the part.
Once it was getting dark we all brought our chairs around the campfire, and the various groups put on their skits and entertained us in front of the roaring fire.
Next, was the handing out of the new neck scarves for the boys, a moving ceremonial type of journey for all the boys heading up to the next level. The youngest boys were first, and David was among them.
They were told to remove their Tiger cub scarves and hold onto them. Then one by one the pack leader, took a scarf, opened it up, spun it around it’s length until it was the perfect small triangle for the back of the neck, and put the new Wolf cub slider on it, around each boy’s neck, on down the line.
When David’s group was done, he proudly ran back to me to show me, and I took pictures both with my pocket camera, and my phone, then texted his mom and dad with the pics, David with a big grin and two thumbs up! That took the last of my phone battery, but at least they got to see the event, even though they both had to work. (Both are bartenders, and so taking a Saturday night off, was asking a lot, hence Grandma got to be the stand-in.)
Once all the boys had been “powered-up” as they said, we got down to the serious business of roasting marshmallows to make Smores! This was David’s very first time camping, his very first time roasting marshmallows, but he caught on quickly. The first couple burst in flames, so he learned not to put them too close to the fire. We were given baggies with a huge marshmallow, a couple graham crackers and a strip of chocolate inside.
David ate his way through a few bags, intent in roasting and eating more, but after his third (I think) I said he’d had enough. I really didn’t want him throwing up in the tent that night! Yuck! He was pretty well done with the sweets, since he had difficulty finishing the last one, he was going in slow motion by that time!
I had driven the pickup around to where the campfire was, since I really didn’t picture myself carrying both our chairs, the flashlight and possibly him all the distance back to the tent. Since the truck was close by it was easy for him to carry his own chair to the truck and put it in the back himself.
We drove back to our tent, and even though David was on a serious sugar high, after brushing teeth and getting into pajamas, and chatting a little together, he fell asleep very quickly and slept soundly through the whole night. I on the other hand hardly slept.
My air mattress which I had pumped up nicely earlier in the day had a slow leak, so as the night went on, I sank lower and lower onto the bumpy ground. The tent had a broken zipper on the from door, so the cold night air whispered around us. I’d brought extra blankets for us, and I think that was what got me barely through the night.
We both got up at 6:30 am, walked over to the bathroom building with our duffel bags, and emerged with teeth brushed and dressed for the new day.
Breakfast in the kitchen area set us up for the day; most people were packing up and leaving soon after, to get home before the rain. We broke camp and packed everything into the pickup, but David wanted to go for one last walk before we left, since he had fallen in love with camping now and wasn’t quite ready to leave!
This walk had him leading us all around the campground, and he picked the perfect dandelion puffs, and he turned it into a wish walk.
He made wishes for everyone he knew, and when he couldn’t think of anyone else he knew, we walked back to the pickup, where one of the leaders was waiting for us stragglers, so he could lock up the gate to the field.
I apologized for keeping them waiting… I didn’t realize they had to wait for all the vehicles to leave or I would have parked near the bathrooms. I explained that David wanted to go for a last walk before we left.
As we were leaving the campground the first drops of rain started to fall. We had just made it!
Sunday night it poured, and with all the humidity which had built up, it had created the perfect conditions for tornadoes. We had warnings all night, so I didn’t get much sleep that night too and went into work on Monday morning bleary eyed, but proud of what we had done together!
Next I’ll be taking David’s twin sister on an overnight with the girl scouts. We won’t be camping, but having a pool party at the local indoor pool, followed by a sleepover there.
As one of the leaders observed, “I hope the girls at least get an hour or two sleep!”
Me too… it’s going to be on a Monday night! Yikes!
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