Wednesday, October 25, 2006


We survived our first Cub Scout camp-out. In case you don't remember, my idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel that doesn't have room service after midnight. So the idea of me camping in anything, even the famous Madden Bus, is a bit of a snort.

But I'm a dad, and you've just gotta do what you've gotta do.

This is actually my second campout with the kids. By the time they're adults I may even figure out if camp out is one word, two words, or hyphenated. The first campout was at the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. That was a special one night, no cooking, planned activities for the kids, family camping event sponsored by the City of Plano Parks and Rec department. We got through with a tent, the kids' two sleeping bags unzipped and laid out on top of rented sleeping pads, and some sheets and pillows.

This time there were two cooking opportunities and the weather was going to be colder, so we needed to buy some gear.
  • Coleman 2-burner camp stove
  • several 16.4 oz. cans of propane
  • 2 more sleeping bags
  • queen size inflatable air mattress for mom and dad
  • small folding table
We decided to use normal pots and cooking utensils along with paper plates and plastic table-ware. The planned menu was:
  • Dinner
    • hot dogs
    • Cheetos
    • grapes
  • Breakfast
    • scrambled eggs
    • sausage
    • tortillas
The camp-site was Hidden Cove Park in Frisco, on Lake Lewisville. We got there about 4 p.m. and quickly set up the tent (in spite of the broken pole), including the air mattress, and the cooking stuff. The cub-master had arranged for stew, but I knew that it was risking a night of whining if they didn't like it. Turns out they also provided hot dogs (which wasn't advertised). But of course, their hot dogs were grilled and my kids don't like the "brown stuff" that grilling leaves on dogs. So it's a good thing we brought our own and were prepared to boil them.

The wind was pretty heavy and as night fell it got much cooler. By the time the pack meeting was over we were ready to retreat to the comfort of our sleeping bags. That was when the lack of proper planning became most evident. Our tent is a 7' x 9' dome chosen for the kids to use in our game room. I'm not sure how they measured 7 x 9 because none of my rulers confirm it. Plus, like most domed tents the sides make about a 60° angle with the floor, so you can't really use all of the floor space anyway. The queen-sized mattress took up most of the tent. Our plan of having the wife and me on the bed and the kids on the floor quickly fell apart and 2 of 2, the smaller one, joined us on the bed.

2 of 2 fell asleep immediately, so he couldn't be too uncomfortable, but from the complaints in the morning it seems that 1 of 2 was the only one who got a truly good night's sleep.

By the time it was light I was ready to leave. The temperature had fallen into the 30's and the wind was still pretty brisk. I didn't have any gloves, had slept very poorly (pinned against the side of the tent and unable to move), and lacked any desire to fire up the camp stove and cook breakfast. So we broke camp very quickly. Didn't bother folding or rolling anything. Just picked it up in whatever wad I could, threw it into the back of the minivan, and left the rest of the campers to choke on our exhaust.

Then we got stuck at the gate, which didn't open for another 10 minutes.

We ate breakfast at La Madeleine in Plano.

Next purchase: a bigger tent. And a hat to sleep in.

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