First Catch

During last week’s camping trip, and our youngest son’s second fishing outing, he bemoaned the fact that he has never caught a fish. So, in a stellar Dad move, my husband asked a friend where to go, got a fishing license, and we all (crazy dog included) drove up to Jefferson Lake, Colorado. It’s a beautiful location in the mountains, and it was a gorgeous summer day.

We walked about a half mile along the shore and set up camp. I was in charge of the dog, who was much-enamored with the chipmunks.

About an hour later, a shout went out across the water. “I caught a fish! I caught a fish!” So ridiculously loud, in his usual way, that I am surprised all the fish didn’t immediately vacate the premises.

We raced toward him with net, tackle box, camera, and cheers.

“I feel like I won the lottery!” he beamed.

The best though, was how he carried the dead fish back to the car, out in front of him, smiling from ear to ear, slowing down as he approached other fishermen and their families, so they could stop and look and express how impressed they were with his catch.

If that weren’t awesome enough, in a second stellar Dad move, there was a recipe waiting at home. The proud fishermen prepared and cooked the rainbow trout in butter and brown sugar, and then we all ate.

I think he might be hooked.


Twelve Days in the Wilderness

My eighth grade Environmental Science trip included a week of canoeing and camping, and I remember it like it was yesterday. The night it rained so hard our tent collapsed. M&M soap operas with rationed candy. Being first in line in the cave. Learning to steer.

I am one of the few who loved middle school, and that week was the best of it. So, I was excited when my son wanted to go on his school’s version of that trip. Still, sending him off into the wilderness was a little unnerving. He’s the one who admits to being afraid of the dark. The one who hates to exercise. The one who wants pasta every night for dinner.

So, during their two-day drive to the boundary waters in Canada, I expected some hint from him how he was doing. It turns out, no one on the trip called home before leaving their cell phones with the outfitter.

And his texts went like this:

“At Wall Drug.”

“I found your letter.” (I left a little card in his backpack telling him how proud of him I am and how excited that he gets to go on this adventure.)

“Mini golf course.”

“The fleas on the prairie dogs in the Badlands had the bubonic plague.”

“Yes.” “You too.” “Too late. Goodnight.”

Then… “Good night. Not bringing my phone canoeing, so this might be my last text message. I love you!”

And as the days of his adventure go by, I realize that I never called my parents. We didn’t have cell phones. And like me learning to navigate the river, they were fine.

Mom’s Advice before the Camping Trip

My son left for his seventh grade camping trip this morning. Three nights. Four days. Hiking. Sand dunes. White-water rafting. Campfires. Marshmallows. He couldn’t be more excited.

My parting advice?

“Sometimes kids play Truth or Dare on camping trips.”

“I know, mom.”


Camping’s Role Reversal

After a great weekend camping with our family and friends, I realized an amusing role reversal that took place there.

We camped at the Molly Brown Campground on Turquoise Lake outside of Leadville, Colorado. It fits our criteria for acceptable places to camp: flush toilets. The lake is gorgeous, and at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, you literally feel like you are on the top of the world.

We had six campsites in a row – all shaded by tall pine trees with lots of space between them to run and play. With the earliest risers of the group, our fire and hot chocolate got going first (before 6am), and as the other kids in our group woke up, they would wander over to us for their morning cup. Play. Then breakfast at the tent with the bacon. Play. Lunch scattered between picnic tables. Play. Happy Hour in the rain. Play. Dinner at the tent with the most picnic tables. Play. Fire. S’mores. Play until we noticed the other campsites were quieting down and our kids were still yelling the lyrics to “I’m Sexy, and I know It”. Bedtime.

Over the 48 hours at Molly Brown, play consisted of canoeing, digging, chopping wood for a fort, fishing, running, and beating up dad when he tried to steal the fort wood for the fire. During the rain, it meant meeting under a tarp with Bey Blades. And the campground could hear their “3-2-1, let it rip!” again and again over the thunder.

So when a friend emailed me asking how I dealt with the whining, I stopped to think. Whining? Hmmm….

“Did you sleep last night? I couldn’t sleep. I never sleep at high altitude.”

Three kids race by carrying branches. “We can use these to build a playroom!”

“Who’s smoking? Apparently, they don’t even care that the rest of us are here for fresh air, not their cigarette smoke.”

Another two kids carrying fishing gear yell over their shoulders, “We’re going to the lake!”

“This rain is getting in the way of Happy Hour.”

“3-2-1 let it rip! Rock Zurafa is so cool!”

“Ugh. I smell so bad. I can’t wait to get home and take a shower.”

The kid posse debates the next level of tests the youngest needs to pass to become a full-fledged member of their fort. The youngest is glowing with anticipation.

“Did you hear that music last night? It didn’t stop until the sun came up. Same song over and over. Probably a bunch of idiots dropping acid. I’m going to complain to the ranger.”

“S’mores? Yesssss!”

“I miss my bed.”

“My favorite part of camping is sleeping with the dog in the tent!”

“Did you hear those kids this morning? I mean, really, why can’t parents keep them quiet? Don’t they know the rest of us come up here for a little peace?”

“Everybody to the fort! Bring the axe!”

“I liked yesterday’s campers better. No pee on the toilet seat the whole time. Today’s crew splashes everywhere.”

The boys aim for the trees.

Had the kids looked up from their play long enough to notice their parents, they might have asked each other, “How do you deal with all that whining?!”