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Campers in training
September 14, 2009
by Jen Bakken

When I told my children we were going camping for Labor Day weekend, the excitement was immediately clear on their faces.

One day I returned home from work to find my nine-year-old daughter completely packed, two full days before our little trip.

There was one large suitcase, a small suitcase, a backpack, and a purse all ready to go.

This should have prepared me for an interesting weekend, since we were only going away for two days.

I managed to get her “must haves” into one small suitcase, and a backpack (full of toys).

My 12-year-old son joked that his sister, “packed like a girl,” and their differences were apparent when I checked to see what he packed.

Shoved and crumpled into a backpack was a pair of shorts, pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, one t-shirt, and a football.

He seemed annoyed when I mentioned he should maybe add some clean underwear and socks.

Once in the car for our camping trip, I knew it was going to be a seemingly long ride all the way to Annandale.

First, the kids began arguing about what songs to listen to on the radio. An argument I quickly put an end to when I reminded them I was in charge of the radio since I was driving. Sighs escaped from the backseat, as I sang along to my favorite songs.

Complaints of thirst erupted and they acted as though we’d been driving through a desert, lacking water for days.

Someone insisted they needed a bathroom (although they had nothing to drink), and of course while stopping at the gas station – drinks were purchased. I think they planned that whole scenario . . . how conniving.

As we pulled onto the gravel road of Warner’s Resort, the kids began protesting the fact that the nearby fields had just been fertilized and plugged their noses.

“Oh yuck,” yelled my daughter in disgust. “If it smells like this here, I want to go home.”

When I explained how, why, and with what a field is fertilized, they were even more grossed out. “You mean that’s all POOP” they screamed in unison.

Finally, we arrived to the campsite where grandma and great grandma were also staying. It was the same site I camped with my grandparents nearly every weekend as a child.

Grandma even told me, “Oh you were the best little camper, so good, we could fish for hours and you’d just hang out on the boat, no problem.”

Well, it became obvious that I hadn’t raised very good little campers.

One child managed to fall over in a lawn chair because it was on a bit of a hill . . . not once, but three times.

Both kids complained about the insane amount of flies, spiders, and bees that were around. One of them was almost driven to tears because of a bug phobia, and spent more time inside than outside.

The idea of touching a leech, worm, or minnow, made one of them decide against fishing all together.

A wagon hit one child in the head, another got a rash from who knows what, and they both complained about the cramped sleeping situation.

Many times the words, “I’m bored!” were whined and grated on my nerves. I decided one afternoon to take the kids to a nearby public beach.

We were all packed, wearing our swimsuits and ready to go when my phone rang.

“Umm, Mom,” said my oldest in a quiet, nervous tone. “I locked my keys in my car and I don’t know what to do.”

Unfortunately, my “adult” son confessed he had lost all four sets, (even the one I put under his car with a magnet) in the past year, and the only set of keys he had was now locked in his car.

Let’s just say we never made it to the beach that day, and our two-night camping trip ended after one night.

I’m sorry, Grandma, I didn’t do a very good job teaching the kids the way you taught me. I guess my kids are still campers in training.