Camping, Anyone?

By Judy Berman

Ah, camping! Pitching a tent and communing with nature! As Memorial Day approaches, it’s a time when many begin to think about the great outdoors, the lure of the water and the call of the wild.

The last time I heard the call of the wild – it seems a lifetime ago – was when we pitched our tent in the middle of a square-dancing marathon. The strains of do-si-do still cause an involuntary shudder in our household.

Still, off we bounded with optimism in our hearts as we pitched our tent on the lake’s edge. Our eyes were bloodshot from absorbing the sights and sound that suburbia locked out.

These were some of the attractions of our camping grounds. The water was so far from our campsite that, on the return trip, I drank most of the water supply to fight off dehydration.

The bathrooms, which my children discovered a need for at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., were so far removed from our campsite that I had to take them there by car. (This is when they were much younger.)

Low-flying helicopters buzzed the rec area during the day because some bright flyboy discovered that the showers had no shower curtains and no roof.

The dark spot on the horizon was an approaching rainstorm. The flashes of lightning looked so picturesque off in the distance across the lake. Our friend warned us about the slight shift of wind.

So we secured the tent, tied down the flaps, put most of our gear away and slipped into our sleeping bags, expecting to be lulled to sleep by the gentle patter of rainfall on our tent.

What we hadn’t anticipated was the slight shift of wind, predicted by our friend, that amounted to a gale force of 50 mph winds and rain that descended like a torrential downpour. The wind savagely whipped around our tent and uprooted some of our supporting frames.

We sought refuge in our car which really was not designed to hold two adults, two children and a St. Bernard.

When the rain stopped, we gratefully got out of our cramped quarters. Bad news. Everything, including our sleeping bags, was drenched. We packed up like thieves in the night and began our long haul home.

At 3:30 a.m., we finally arrived home. We peeled off our wet, sandy duds and tumbled into bed.

That experience still cuts through me like a knife. When anyone suggests in an upbeat, chipper tone that we go camping, I recall how our dog would bolt under the table and whine pitifully. To this day, all the rest of us still register panic in our eyes at the thought of a return to the great outdoors.

What family vacation makes you chuckle or dive for shelter? Comment below.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Main photo: Camping – Danielle and Jenn – Labrador Pond, Tully, NY

* camping – cooking

* Camping graphic –  Source: USDA Forestry Service website

  1. Hahaha! That was so far from a pleasant camping experience.
    I’m not a fan of camping either. Well, there’s ‘glamping’ now but it costs as much as a stay at a nice resort. 🙂

  2. Mom thank you for not providing all of the traumatic details of that fateful camping trip. I preferred when we would “camp” in our driveway in the pop up trailer. Cute story though.

    1. That does sound like a lot of fun, Lisa. My daughter, Danielle, roasts marshmallows outside on a grill. Then, she retreats back into the house for a “camp in” with her hubby and kids.

  3. Also a camping story. I planned a weekend trip with hubby and 2 then little ones to a campground I loved going to with my Dad when I was a kid. This was about 18 years later though and I didn’t bother checking to see if the place was still there. It wasn’t. Stayed in a hotel the 1st night. Oops.

  4. Judy, I camp at Holiday Inn Express.

    The last time I camped was in 1999. Went with my son’s boy scout troop on 5 mile out hike at 7,000 ft in Tahoe Nat’l Forest. It was 93 deg during the day and dropped to about 29 deg at night. I got what was probably hypothermia during the night. I could not get warm in spite of sweats, a jacket, and a super-warm sleeping bag.

    To me, it’s just not worth all the getting ready, etc. Plus, it costs as much or more than a hotel room.

    Guess I’m just not the outdoors type. 🙂

    1. Our family started camping with a tent. We quickly moved on to a pop-up trailer. Finally, we wised up and booked a hotel room. I like the outdoors for short nature walks, but I don’t want to share the habitat with whatever is lurking out there while I’m trying to sleep. I also can relate to your experience about the sudden drop in temperature.

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