‘Enjoying’ the Great Outdoors
I need to preface everything you are about to read by saying that I am not a camper. I never have been. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy camping on occasion. I am, after all, an Eagle Scout, so I can hold my own in the great outdoors. However, given the choice between a hotel bed and a sleeping bag on top of a foam pad, I’ll almost always choose the hotel.
During our children’s lifetime, I can count on one hand the number of times we camped as a family. And at least one (maybe two) of those camping experiences was in my father-in-law’s backyard, so I don’t know if that counts.
Some years ago, a group of families from our neighborhood decided to go camping. From the moment we arrived at the designated campground, it was clear we were novices. The first clue was when we asked one of our neighbors for a pocket-knife to open the box to our new tent.
Once the box was successfully opened, we began setting up our temporary shelter. With a full set of instructions in hand and the “help” of our children, we made relatively quick work of assembling our tent.
As the kids ran off to play with their friends, my wife and I were left to inflate the air mattresses and organize the tent. After about 20 minutes of huffing and puffing, we had our beds blown up and ready to put in the tent.
In a state of extreme lightheadedness from this process, we noticed that our neighbors’ campsites were all set up, complete with multiple tents, comfortable camping chairs, Camp Chefs and tarps, and they were beginning to prepare their evening meal. A fire was blazing, vegetables were being chopped and meat carefully prepared. Someone was assembling a Dutch oven peach cobbler.
Again, embarrassed by our camping inexperience, I asked my son to run to the car to grab our bags of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the soft drinks we picked up at a convenience store on our way up the canyon.
With dinner finally out of the way and all evidence of our carefully prepared KFC properly disposed of, we enjoyed an evening of fun with our neighbors. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores (we actually remembered to bring chocolate bars and graham crackers). Then it was time to head to the new tent for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Needless to say, our night in the tent included just about everything but sleep. First, we were too hot and then we were freezing. Jackman started out on one side of the tent and ended up on the other. Olivia wanted to sing all night and Jordan wanted to tell scary stories. We all began the night lying north and south and found ourselves facing east and west by the time morning came.
We “woke up,” packed up camp, had a granola bar for breakfast and headed for home. The kids couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had sleeping outside.
Fast forward to the other day when Jackman asked if I would join him on his weeklong scout camp. I admit my first thoughts were of the disastrous campers we’d been nearly 10 years ago. But then I remembered the wonderful memories we made. I think I’ll plan to join him … at least for a night or two.
If you’re one of those people who love the outdoors and plan to camp in the Uinta Mountains this summer, see our article on visiting the beautiful Mirror Lake Scenic Byway on p. 43.
Rob Brough, Executive Vice President Corporate Marketing and Communications