What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

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Happy Camper Is An Oxymoron

 I come from a long line of people who consider the phrase ”happy camper” to be an oxymoron. To put it simply, we Bitners are inside folk and I made sure to marry a man with similar proclivities. I assumed, then, that my husband and I would beget children who appreciated the value of memory foam pillows and indoor plumbing. I was wrong.



Recently my youngest has become fixated on the idea of camping outside. With me. In a tent. An item that, due to our love of the great indoors, we have conveniently neglected to own. Every time he brings up camping, I try to get him off the topic by offering him candy or turning the TV to Sponge Bob. Not a parenting technique I’m proud of, but one I was willing to resort to if it meant sleeping in my own bed. 

That is until the day my parental guilt took a direct hit from the Internet. I’d received an email announcing LL Bean was having a sale on all camping equipment.

            Malls I can do. They’re climate controlled, bear-free and the most dangerous part is looking for a parking space. Plus, the only equipment I needed was the piece of plastic in my wallet. So it was a no-brainer to head to Colonie Center for an adventure my nature-phobic DNA is better suited for: shopping.

            I was still on a buyer’s high when I returned home with my purchases – a tent, two sleeping bags and a self-inflating pillow. I only bought one pillow because I wasn’t sure it would work. If it did end up inflating, my son I would have to wrestle for it, but I was confident I could take him.

I also purchased a first aid kit and something called a Pocket Survival Pack. I bought the pack because it had seemed cocky to look at it in the store and then put it back like I didn’t need it. With my lack of camping know-how, I was in no position to tempt fate. I could picture rescuers one day discovering my lifeless body in the woods and lamenting, “If only she’d bought that pocket survival pack.” Besides, it was on sale.

            I decided I’d better figure out how to use the stuff while I was still safe and secure in my own home. It took me about ten minutes – no lie – to figure out how to open the survival pack, which turned out to be a simple zippered plastic pouch. This did not bode well for my chances in the wild.

            The first thing I noticed when I finally did get it open was that my pack was defective – no chocolate. Second thing I noticed was it was full of cool stuff I hoped I would never have to use – like a rescue whistle, signal mirror and waterproof fire starter.

Then I came across fishing line and fish hooks. I searched in vain in the pouch for the little tiny fisherman that will use them. Good Lord, I’m never going to survive if I have to catch my own food. There was also a scalpel blade, which, if I used it for slitting my wrists, would be a faster way to go than starving to death. There was even a pencil and notepaper.  Although it says you can use the paper when it’s wet, I’ll try to remember to write my farewell note before using the scalpel.

            Then I checked out the bonus lifesaving instructions. The first instruction said: Don’t Panic! Too late. Especially if I was reading it while stuck on the side of some mountain. Come to think of it, instead of a zippered plastic pouch, the whole thing should come in a brown paper bag so I’ll have something to breathe into to stave off the inevitable panic attack.


 With any luck, this retail excursion will be enough and just owning the gear will satisfy my son’s desire to go camping. And maybe if I stick the stuff in a closet, we can forget all about it. At least until the Visa bill arrives.

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