It’s good that the world didn’t End in a bloody, locust-infested fiery inferno over the weekend. Yet I woke up Saturday morning thinking that was a pretty decent likelihood within 24 hours to follow. Maybe I should have warned everyone?
Yeah, because, see, I went camping. In a tent. Over night. No power anywhere and nothing to plug in, away. And this was the real thing, too, not like putting a tent up in your family room and eating pre-packaged S’mores on an air mattress or rolling a camper that costs the same as a small house with a satellite dish on top into a “campground” complete with water, power, and hot tubs.
What would possess me, Puddin, the consummate indoorsman*, the kid who spent summers learning software programming and building Lego spaceships, to spend the night outside, amongst the crickets, spiders, and a thousand other biting insects beneath a bleached white moon on purpose?
Clearly, only the Cub-o-Ree could bring me out of doors with a sleeping bag and a lantern, at the risk of a global natural disaster event.
More surprisingly, even, I lived to tell the tale. As it turns out, sleeping outside isn’t quite the uncomfortable Trial by Torture I the depths of my fuzzy memories led me to believe.
That said, though, if any of my indoor-loving brothers and/or sister happen to be considering a camping excursion of their own in the not-so-distant future, allow me to offer you one very key hunk of recently attained wisdom:
Fear the Unjust Ground.
Seriously, you know that patch of ground where you’re planning to drop your “4-person**” tent? Yeah, it’s not level. No, don’t argue with me. I know it looks relatively flat, but it’s not. In fact, as soon as you climb into that bedroll—that only zips shut for children for reasons beyond physical understanding—at the unthinkable hour of 10:30 PM (because if you’re camping with neither campfire nor adult beverage, that’s when you go to bed), you’re going to quickly ponder if there isn’t some kind of tilt to the Earth’s axis. Half an hour after that, with all the blood in your body pooling in your head like you’ve been hanging upside-down, bat-style, your suspicions will be confirmed.
Of course, by then, it’ll much too late to address the problem, so get used to it, you reckon. What follows will be a sad attempt to re-situate yourself and your tent-mates (in this case, the Puddinpop and Mini-me) into patterns of alignment that hopefully lessen the impact of sleeping on what now seems an incline steep enough from which to ski jump. As an added bonus, each hour that follows, you’ll wake up automatically just to make sure you haven’t yet slid completely down the mountain in your water-resistant sleeping bag while still snoring (i.e. pulling a “Homer Simpson”). And every single time you wake up, that angle will have just gotten worse.
At sunrise, you’ll wake up fully vertical, yet somehow when you climb out the mouth of your time-and-space-warping tent, the Earth will again be horizontal as it should.
Outside of the Advanced Tent Physics Dynamics course, though, everyone had a tremendous time at the Cub-O-Ree. The boys got to do all the important Cub Scout-type things, and even took part in what I’m assuming was the world’s largest uncontrolled foam sword battle at dusk.
For the record, if you’ve ever wanted to see a demonstration of the very definition of chaos, try this:
- Gather 200-300 6 and 7 year olds on a softball field
- Give each one a foam sword
- Tell them to have at it
- Run for you life as they clearly and without hesitation demonstrate that they have neither interest nor respect for the terms of the Geneva Conventions.
I’m guessing William Golding (author of Lord of the Flies) was a frequent Cub-O-Ree participant.
At any rate, if you woke up Saturday morning with an inexplicable sense of portending doom, that was just me putting together a tent in spider-ville. Luckily, the world did not end, Hell did NOT freeze over, and even better, the kids of Cub Scout families all over the area had a ridiculously fun time in the non-indoors.
No, I’m not giving up my subscription to indoorsman any time soon, but it’s nice to know the Earth probably won’t split open in a fiery cataclysm every time I drive a tent-stake into the ground.
So I got that going for me, which is nice.
*It is too a word. If “outdoorsman” is a good enough to be a real word and even a magazine title, than I’m officially declaring “indoorsman” perfectly acceptable too. So, screw you, spell-check, it counts.
**This device is capable of sleeping 4 adults only in the case that some manner of Doofenshmirtz Evil, Inc. Debiggenator or Acme Shrink-Ray automatically reduces each occupant of the tent in both height and bone density upon entering. Because even if my 6 year-old daughter had been with us, she would been sleeping under someone’s feet. And having to sleep under someone’s stinky, been-camping-all-day feet has got to be an OSHA violation or something.