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Waiting for fire and the arrival of raccoons

April 28, 2013

CampingWe were seven girls wearing birthday party hats (yes, the ones with the strings underneath) sitting at a table with a balloon-covered tablecloth and a ‘Happy Birthday’ sign hanging from the trees in the middle of the park. And thus is the image that will forever remain in my mind from my camping adventure this weekend.

This weekend, the Jewish American Princess stereotype was well-represented as I ventured into the wilderness known as Clinton Lake State Park for my friend / future roommate’s birthday. Prior to this adventure, I was somewhat terrified. I had never been camping before and hadn’t thought about making a fire or pitching a tent (I had, however, thought about creepers and bear attacks). But I went. It was a good time.

The first camping matter to take care of was the tent. The tent I pictured was a triangular-prism shaped structure covered in a sheet propped up with wood. Now, in the back of my mind, I knew this would not be the case. This idea may be perfect for building forts in the basement (with furniture, not wood), but not for a rendezvous in the woods. Instead, we had an actual tent that could fit all six of us (only six were supposed to spend the night – more on that later). So, I held a nice long rod while my co-campers built my home for the evening. They did well.

Within 15 minutes of our arrival at the campground, we met a man we deemed “the creeper.” He was an older man with a dog named Abby who may or may not live at Clinton Lake. He came over and asked if we needed help with the tent, which we didn’t, and then left. But he also decided to chat with us a handful more times, even asking one camper standing by the fire if she was “Warming up that bottom of hers.” Luckily, the creeper did not break into our tent or sit in it when we were gone (that we know of).

Our campsite was uphill from a lake, so we “hiked” to the lake. One of my favorite things to do is sit in silence while overlooking water because it’s perfect for thinking and breathing in nature. For this reason, the birthday girl and I ventured back to the lake at sunset. Loved it. That I would do again. But then, of course, I almost led us down the wrong path to get back to the campsite. No wonder my people wandered in the desert for 40 years; we have no sense of direction.

At around 5 o’clock, we decided to start dinner, so we attempted to make a fire. Attempted. It had rained prior to our arrival at the campsite, so the wood was wet. Even though we had some non Jewish American Princesses in our ranks, every time we started a fire, squirted lighter fluid on it and fed it, it eventually went out. And when the coals were burning (or whatever they do), they weren’t getting hot enough to cook our hamburgers all the way through. However, we solved both issues. First, we sent a few people to Walmart to buy dry logs. Then, we transferred our hamburgers to our vegetables grill because those cooked fine. We ended up eating chips, then corn, then the burgers… at probably 8 o’clock. It took us a nice long while to get that fire going, but once we did… it went out before we had a chance to make s’mores. We did, at least, make campfire cones over the vegetable grill. The idea was that the chocolate chips and marshmallows I put in my waffle cone would melt, but… they didn’t. Didn’t matter. Someone made the point that had our food all cooked quickly, we wouldn’t have had as much of an adventure. So it all worked out fantastically.

After dinner, we decided to prepare for bed. Before that, we drove to the bathroom because there was no way we were going to walk across the marshy weeds in the darkness to use the facilities. I mean, yes, the effort would have been worth it, but someone probably would have broken an ankle.

Now, let’s return to the tent. I slept on the side of the tent, and because there were six of us (initially), it was a little snug, but I was warm enough and content enough. Before closing my eyes for the night, we opened the tent’s window (because apparently those exist), and I gazed at the stars (which was one of the only reasons I went on this camping adventure… just kidding… ish). Not as epic as the middle of the Negev Desert, but it’s pretty legit that they’re all the same stars.

At 5:51 a.m., I woke up and felt cold. I tried moving my sleeping bag and realized it was a little damp… and the side of the tent was stuck to it. See, at night, dew forms, which means condensation envelops the tent. And because I was stuck on the side, I was literally stuck to the side. Luckily, my fellow campers soon woke up, at which point I realized there were only five of us. No worries though, a raccoon did not eat her; camping was just too much for one of our campers, and she left at 1:30 in the morning. Also, there were no raccoon sightings, nor any knife attacks. However, I did see Bambi. Twice!

Before breakfast, we drove to the bathroom. Our luck being what it was, when we pulled in, the creeper was sitting on a bench doing laundry (See? I told you he lives there). So we ran in, did our business and ran back to the car, then returned to our campsite and quickly climbed into the tent. We ate breakfast and chatted, I learned I have ticklish knees and I returned to Templin at about 9’clock.

I am glad I went on this camping adventure because now, I can say I have been camping. I can check it off the bucket list and never look at another campsite again.


From → Sophomore

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