Archive for Monday, July 26, 2010


Camping resembles grieving

July 26, 2010


For 50 straight hours, I fought extreme heat and the harsh reality of being one of the few moms in my son’s pack unable to convince her husband that taking off work to attend Cub Scout Camp was vital to the development of our boy into a man who can tie a slipknot.

Like “Survivor,” it was rough, but we were not allowed to vote anyone out. After careful self-introspection in brain-melting humidity, though, it occurred to me that Scout camp did not parallel any reality show as much as it did the five stages of grief.

Beginning with …

Denial, which hits while packing for camp and culminates in a string of nontruths running through the brain while settling in at the campsite: I am not actually sleeping in a pre-fab tent in the middle of nowhere for two nights; the ladies’ room does not really consist of a cylindrical concrete hole with a fiberglass seat leading to a giant vat of communal excrement in the ground; and I am certainly not being fed just a solitary slice of ham for dinner. Everything is fine.

Until late at night, when we come upon stage two …

Anger: I am sleeping in a pre-fab tent after hiking to and from the concrete hole in the ground in spite of the fact that all I had for dinner was a slice of ham; the train that keeps circling the campground is drowning out all other noises except for the mouse climbing up and down the cot next to me; and I am texting my husband every 10 minutes until the sun rises so he does not miss any of this.

I refrained from texting but could not refrain from stage three …

Bargaining: I would give anything to sleep through the night tonight and will trade you my Tempur-Pedic pillow and two Xanax for your air mattress and battery-operated fan. Sound like a deal?

Unfortunately, nobody took me up on that. By dinnertime, I had settled deep into stage four …

Depression: Why do I bother wearing deodorant, using toothpaste or brushing my hair? Who really cares if I change into a clean shirt when it will only smell like this one in the end? What does it matter if I sleep with my flashlight on if raccoons will still creep into my tent in search of the Fritos I stole from lunch? This is hopeless.

But one more night brings about the inevitable …

Acceptance: We cannot fight the stench, but we can embrace the opportunity to forego hygiene. Or, as one dad put it, “I’m through the wall now, I could camp forever!”

Thankfully, Scout camp held one additional stage for me. I call it “Happy Hour.” One air-conditioned ride home to a warm shower and a cold margarita, and the post-traumatic stress of accidentally shining my flashlight down the concrete hole in the night was a lifetime away.

And I can’t wait to hear how my husband enjoys it next year.


Kontum1972 7 years, 4 months ago

i did that scout deal, cubs through boy scouts..the moms that were out there were troopers although i think we had it little better for the ladies...everyone was into what we were doing and we all just tuffed it out...we went prepared and fun was my son is 20 and those camp outs showed him what not to take for granted....and to adapt...and perservere.

your one hell of a woman/mom

my oldest son is an Eagle Scout he is a nuclear/electrical engineer for Siemans on the west coast. My 20 year old didnt go on....but i see what scouting did for him and his approach to life..its all good. Thanks for being a real scout mom.

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