A new generation of (reluctant) campers

Sunday, May 7, 2006

SHE SAID: At an early age, I learned how to make s'mores in the microwave.

Call it a coping mechanism, one used to sever the only worthwhile tie to a family tradition. S'mores are about the only thing I enjoy when it comes to camping.

If I can experience that same chocolate/marshmallow gooey goodness at home, then that eliminates the need to ever go camping. Right? Right?

Enter stepson Drew.

Several years ago, Drew expressed a desire to go camping with my parents. They camp a lot, but it's not roughing-it camping. It's three-bed, full-kitchen, full-bath, satellite-TV camping.

Just like the addict who never thought smoking that first cigarette could hurt, I agreed to a weekend sojourn. After that, 8-year-old Drew was hooked.

At the earliest signs of spring, he begins asking when we can go camping again. Usually, we swim, fish, hike, play in the mud and eat s'mores for breakfast. Then we go home with stuffy noses, watery eyes and -- most often for me anyway -- poison ivy.

The boys have such a great time that I don't have the heart to discontinue the trips. I can only hope that someday they too see the great advantages to making s'mores in the microwave instead of over an open flame.

HE SAID: Callie and I try to find interesting things to write about every week.

Truthfully, we may be the most boring couple west of the Mississippi River.

That may be the reason I enjoy camping with the in-laws. It gets us out of the house.

There's nothing logical about why I'd like camping. You have to hop on a bike to go use the restroom.

The living space is small, although roughly the size of some apartments I have lived in. And there are the allergies to contend with, not to mention the flies and the mosquitoes and the sometimes brutal Southeast Missouri weather.

But for some reason I always seem to have a good time, and Drew does too.

A lot of the time is spent at a picnic table playing rummy. Last week, Callie's father and I traded thumpings. I whipped him pretty good in the first hand, then he caught me holding all seven of my cards, laying down his entire hand on his second turn. My father-in-law and I spent a good half-hour playing whiffle ball with Drew on the world's smallest ballfield, using wood blocks and trees as bases.

Sometimes Callie's grandpa, the king of the campground, and some of her family's friends come visit, and we sit around the fire roasting marshmallows for s'mores. Other times, when it's just the Clarks and Millers, when it's rainy or too hot or cold to sit outdoors, we'll take a board game to the camper's kitchen table.

We've played darts and washers. We've gone fishing and swimming. I've always taken photos.

I suppose whatever the inconvenience, the reason I enjoy the camping is not because I like the outdoors. It's because I'm developing bonds with family members through fun and games. Sounds cheesy, but it's true.

It sure beats wasting time in front of the television set.

And it sure beats home improvement projects.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 122

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: