Here are a few of my camping highlights:
- Making a "Sit-Upon". In the olden days, we didn't have those collapsible mesh/nylon chairs that are easy to carry in a slingback...so we made our own devices for sitting around a campfire on cold hard or damp dirt. We canvassed our local carpet stores and asked for discontinued carpet samples a couple of those wrapped in a clear plastic sheet and connected with (what else, the wonder device..) duct tape and you have an official Campfire Girl "Sit-Upon" and if you're lucky...a patch for your uniform.
- Hobo Pie Makers. Sometime after my campfire girl adventures, my family began their own camping experience. It began with my Uncle Ron and Aunt Marge and their family, and we tagged along. One of the highlights (besides sharing a tent with my crazy cousin Suzie) was making hobo pies on the campfire. The pie-maker was a hinged iron square with a long handle that you could load up with bread slathered in tomatoe, cheese and pepperoni (hobo pizza), or filled with apple pie filling (hobo apple pie, obviously), or some other concoction. They beat s'mores any day.
- Permanent Site. After sharing tent space with my cousin, and renting a trailer her or there, my parents invested in their own trailer. Strangely enough, while you think of a trailer as a mobile vacation home...so you can go to many places...we found ourselves parked at a "permanent site" at a local campground not long after we purchased our own trailer. We got a nice little spot, right on the stream, under some shade trees, with some nice wooded privacy, and only steps away from my Aunt and Uncle who had taken their own site.
- Summer Fun. While parked at this site, I discovered the joys of house on wheels air conditioning (putting your folding lawn chair in the stream and sitting in it), mosquito repellant (watching the bats fly en masse in an eating frenzy), girl-fishing (squeamish about worms? no sweat, roll cheese into a ball, stick it on a hook, toss in water, CATCH FISH!), and imaginative entertainment (radio mystery shows at night, stories around the campfire, walks in the woods, hourly visits to the camp store to eat old fashioned candy, bike rides through corn fields, and - unique to our campground - leaping and playing on a trampoline that was suspended over a pit to make it even to ground level and covered by a shelter).
- First Love? I also met my first boyfriend while camping. Ah, sweet love in the summertime. He had the same first name as my husband (but there the resemblance ends) and hung out with the "cool kids" on the back porch of the main building. His nickname was "Feet" because his feet were so large. Now don't go there - I was only 13 for god's sake. He was also 6'5" and a star basketball player. We only "went out" for a few weeks - I was too young, we lived too far apart when we weren't at the campground, but he was a nice boy and it's nice to remember those first blushing moments of love. Learning to kiss in the shadows. Flirting on the basketball court. Sitting in a group and feeling for the first time the security of a partner's arm across your shoulder.
- Sailing in Your Motor Home. Our next trailer was more mobile...it was a motor home and we took it on a couple of trips from NY to FL. On one trip - that Chelle joined us on - we drove from NY to FL and I think she and I slept 90% of the time in the full beds in the back, while my folks drove. We were laying there at one point when I heard my Mom let out an exclamation and I realized that the awning attached to the side of the motor home had come loose from its clamps and had launched into the air like a sail ... an interesting effect when you are traveling at high speeds on I-95.
- Young Life. Sometime in high school, Young Life became a part of my world. I can't even tell you exactly what it was...except it was a thing my friends and I joined to meet other people. There was a lot of singing, some camping, and then there was prayer. But I either tuned out or took off when the praying started...Not. My. Thing. My greatest memory from Young Life? Some cute guys...some cuter counsellors...and camping with my friends.
- A Cabin in the Woods. Shortly before I graduated from high school, my folks decided to make camp more permanent - and bought a sweet little one bedroom with loft cabin. It was adorable - with a screened in porch with a swing, a tiny little kitchen, a comfortable living room with pot-belly stove, and twin beds in an open loft up above. The only drawback of no running water...yes...that's right...we had an outhouse!! Like most 2nd homes though - it eventually became a chore to manage and most weekends were spent caring for the property rather than enjoying a getaway.
- Train Tracks and Tents. When Hubby and I were in our 20's we were asked by some friends to join them in a camping weekend. It has been about 10 years since I had shared a tent with other campfire girls or my cousin, but what the hell... Unfortunately we picked a holiday weekend to make it happen and had no reservations...we drove by/through 3 campgrounds before we found one with an opening. By now it was well past sundown and we had to pick our site and assemble our tents in the dark with only some lanterns and car headlights to help us out. We woke up the next morning and our friends were dumbfounded we had slept through the night. It seems in selecting our site in the dark, we had failed to notice the train tracks that went right past the edge of the site and a freight train going through in the middle of the night had scared them to death and shaken the tents like an earthquake. Hubby and I heard nothing.
- Moving Up to Motels. Hubby and I moved on (up?) to motels and enjoyed some weekends in the Thousand Islands. On one particular weekend we were enjoying the king size bed and view from our hotel room on the water (you know...enjoying...) when we were startled by a loud ship's horn. The DOUBLE-DECKER tourist boat was docking outside our window. Um... I hope they enjoyed the view IN our window as much as we had been enjoying the view OUT.
I doubt if I will ever be a camper again, but I don't think I would trade those memories for anything.