One of the requirements for WEBELOS to “bridge” over to Boy Scouts is to pitch a tent and camp overnight. We thought we would take care of this requirement over summer, but opportunities were never taken.
This month, the local Boy Scout troops are hosting camping days/nights to help with this requirement, and to introduce and encourage them to join a particular Troop. Troop 6284 was the first on schedule, and Namita was concerned that if we wait too long, we’ll miss the opportunity. Especially as the weather gets colder each week.
As we watched the weather report for each rainy day, and with Hurricane Joaquin approaching the U.S. East Coast, I didn’t think we would be able to go camping. First time camping in flooded conditions? Or the pouring rain?
I’ll also admit that since this would be my first time camping, I was reluctant. Camping was never my thing — I’m all about Camp Marriott. Friday arrived with significant downpours, but the forecast for the weekend wasn’t terrible. And the camping trip was still on. Namita stared at me with a disapproving eye, as now it was the day before camping, and we had no gear.
Friday night, we were off to the new REI store in Lawrenceville to buy camping gear. My sister Julie and BIL Robbie had gotten Josh a very nice Coleman 4-person tent and LED lantern last Christmas, and sat in our living room unused. Well, we would be using it this weekend! We ended up spending an hour at REI, spent $750 on sleeping bags, air beds, thermals, ponchos, etc, and sending in-store sales skyrocketing. Don’t worry — I returned about $160 of unused stuff last night, so the damage was minimized as best we could.
Saturday around noon, we arrived at the campsite about 7 minutes from our house at the local Elks Lodge. Not too far from home, in case we needed an air lift by Navy SEALs. It was rainy, but we unloaded the car, pitched our tent for the first time, and secured everything with lots of stakes.
For the rest of the day, the kids ran around and played games with the Boy Scouts and each other, and worked on their Outdoorsman badge. The parents stood around, conversed, and occasionally made group field trips to the Wawa next door. Not all of the kids needed to stay overnight as they’ve been camping before, but everyone stayed for dinner on the grill and skits by the campfire.
Close to 10 PM, Josh was exhausted. We packed it in, got our air beds and sleeping bags set up, and turned out the lights. Although Josh apparently slept well, I kept waking up throughout the night. Maybe it was the wind and rain, maybe it was sound of a Spielberg T-Rex outside, I don’t know why. Eventually morning arrived, but I was fairly tired.
After a breakfast of pancakes and sausages, we finished packing up, loading up, and we were rushing home to freshen up for another full Sunday of events.
All in all, it was not as bad as I thought it would be, even with the rain and cold. Despite it all, Josh had a fun time learning about making knots and other outdoorsy things, but also running around and playing games (including flag football!?) with all the other boys. Yes, even in all the rain and mud and cold.
Discomfort for me? Sure, but you know, he had such a good time, it was worth a little discomfort.