I will never go camping

I have never camped — in a tent. I have slept in an RV on the campgrounds at Disney World — once. But I am not sure that constitutes hard-core camping. Still, it was an experience I would never choose to repeat. And so I know camping in the woods, surrounded by flimsy nylon and zipper doors is far from up my alley. Especially after the stories my three boys brought home recently following one night of camping — in a tent.

My husband and two little boys — ages five and three — went camping with another dad and his two little boys. I accompanied the whole crew to the campsite, watched my wild, stick-wielding, shrieking boys tear through the wild while the tent was erected, and then headed swiftly to the closest spa for a one-hour massage. I ate a quiet dinner with my mom, sat at my computer and wrote articles about cancer with a cinnamon candle burning nearby, and slept for ten whole peaceful hours in my king-sized bed. It was heavenly.

The camping trip was not so heavenly, in my pampered opinion. Yet somehow, my three boys came back simultaneously sad to have left the wilderness and giddy with laughter about the horrendous series of events that quickly convinced me I will never go camping.

My husband — John — and our two boys invited one of the other little boys to join them in their tent. Everyone went to sleep and all was well until 2:30 AM when the other little boy began vomiting. Since tents are not the roomiest of spaces, much of the bedding was soiled and had to be cleaned with wet wipes — not the most effective of sterilization methods. The little boy’s dad had to be awakened in his tent, and he promptly took his son to the shower (indoor bathroom facilities — a perk). He returned, took his son to his own tent, and each family attempted to sleep once again. It took hours, John says, for our family to drift back to sleep. It was maybe 4:30 AM. And then an animal struck.

They think it was a raccoon. They heard it coming, heard it getting closer and closer, and wondered what to do. John envisioned hoisting both boys on his shoulders while beating off this wild animal. Danny, three years old, announced, “If that animal gets in here, I’m going to cover myself with this blanket because I’m scared.” Joey said nothing, was nothing but stoic.

The raccoon never made it inside the tent, although it wrestled and scratched and tore every bit of material it could get its paws on. John says there are gaping holes, that it would take loads of duct tape to fix the damage. Still, the tent is packed up, back in the attic, waiting for the next trip. I’m not sure how they can even consider another trip.

They are tough. They are rough. They are explorers and adventurers. After the raccoon attack, the went back to sleep, woke up, ate eggs and bacon, and headed off on a nature hike — just after the same little boy threw up his entire breakfast.

It takes a special person to endure — let alone enjoy — camping. I live with three of these special people, who can’t wait to head back out to the woods. Without me.