Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be a Good Camper, Henry!

Have you ever noticed how the majority of campers are either young families or retired people? The young families tend to be tent campers and the retirees trailer campers. Probably because for the young family it’s an economical vacation, while the retirees can afford the camping trailer with all the amenities, essentially taking all the comforts of home with them as they tour the world. The people in between can’t yet afford the trailer, but have gotten too used to comfort to enjoy the tent. (As a slightly-past-middle-aged tent camper, I am an aberration. Even more so, since I enjoy camping by myself as much as I enjoy camping with others.)

Anyway, if you really want to test the solidity of your family unit, try camping together... in a tent... during the rainy season. If you can survive that, you can survive almost anything.

Take, for example, the young family next to me on my most recent camping trip. It was obvious that it was young Henry’s first camping trip. His older sister and cousin were well versed in camping etiquette. Not so, Henry. Henry was all of about three years old. That alone should have been a clue that it could be a challenging outing.

Now, I happen to love 3-year-olds… especially when I don’t have to take them home with me. The entire world revolves around the 3-year-old... they're totally egocentric. And the 3-year-old is so gosh darned curious about the entire world. They have these cute little voices and they ask questions… constantly! Which is what Henry was doing, much to the chagrin of his family. And 3-year-olds definitely do not understand about sitting still and communing with nature. So, over the course of three very rainy days, I kept hearing the following:

“Don’t run, Henry!”

“Don’t play in the fire, Henry!”

“Don’t go in the water, Henry!”

"Stop annoying the ducks, Henry!"

"Sit in your chair, Henry!"

“Don’t fling flaming marshmallows in your sister’s hair, Henry!”

"Don't leave food out for the bears, Henry!"

“Stay in the tent, Henry!”

"Be quiet, Henry!"

“No, Henry, you may not bring your sleeping bag out by the fire!”

“Go to sleep, Henry!”

Mind you, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Henry. He wasn’t being at all naughty. He was simply acting his age.

“If you come out of that tent, Henry, I’m going to hurt you!”

AAACK! That last one had me fearing for Henry's life. In fact, the next morning they told Henry he was going home because he didn't know how to camp.  What?  Is camping supposed to be inbred or something?  Poor Henry... a failure at age 3.   The entire family left for about eight hours and when they returned, I didn't see or hear anything 0f Henry. I thought maybe they'd sold him to the gypsy's or something. 

It wasn't until the third morning that I heard Henry's name invoked again..

"Henry, if you eat all the graham crackers for breakfast, there won't be any left for s'mores tonight!"

Whew! Henry was back! He was still alive and well and might even live to see four.

And then there was that final, exasperated plea…

Try to be a good camper, Henry!”

(Insert stifled guffaw from me here.)  For a 3-year-old, being a good camper is not at all the same thing as being a happy camper.  

Henry was undaunted, though. Not once did he cry or whine. Only his parents did that.

Henry is a Happy Camper.

I adore Henry.

(Please note, I would have provided an actual picture of Henry, but his parents probably would have had me arrested. Same with trying to find an actual on-line photo of a little kid camping. Guess they think you might be a pedophile or something if you download that type of thing. Hence, the cheesy clip art depiction of little Henry.)


Nanodance said...

I just want to be perfectly clear. The behavior of Henry and Henry's parents were NOT my fault.


Sondra Stinglash

CatLadyLarew said...

Dear Ms. Stinglash,

Please forgive me! I had no idea that Henry and his sister were graduates of the Sunshine Day School. Silly me. I'm aware that you distain camping and as a result, do not teach camp etiquette at your school. Therefore, I would never hold you responsible for the outdoor behavior of Henry, his sister, his cousin, or his parents.

I must say, though, that their meals were impeccably produced with special attention to organic foods. (The ashes on the dropped hot dogs are organic, aren't they?)

Cat Lady

P.S. I took the liberty of passing out your business cards to a few other families in the campground. You can put my referral check in the mail.

Canadian Blend said...

I know how hard it is to get photos of some things and not feel like a creep. Not long ago my fiance (now, wife) asked me to send her photos of our local pool so she could show her kids. This was a way of demonstrating a move to my part of the world would be an okay thing.

So I rode my bike to the pool. And then I sort of stood there with my camera feeling creepy. Who, after all, goes to a pool and just takes photos? I eventaully took two distant shots of the pool.

CatLadyLarew said...

Canadian Blend: Ah, someone who understands what I'm talking about! What I really want to see are pictures of you and the Canadian Gal the first time you take that horde of yours camping... in a tent... in the rain. Although, in all fairness, I don't know if you're going to be able to find a tent big enough! That would be the honeymoon to end all honeymoons!

Maggie May said...


Winky Twinky said...

Well, it's good to know young Henry is thriving and doing well... You mentioned taking a book along with you camping, but I don't know how you could possibly do any reading with all the drama going on around you..hehe..

btw, just how DID you become a cat lady...with no cats??

CatLadyLarew said...

Ah, Dear WinkyTwinky... the answer to your question lies in my debut blog post:

(BTW... amazingly I got quite a bit read after they tied up and gagged Henry for the night.)

Madame DeFarge said...

Did you ever see Henry or was this like a Norman Bates situation?

CatLadyLarew said...

Madame DeFarge: Yes, I did see Henry... he has cute curly dark locks of hair and there were definitely words coming out of his mouth. Although, now that I think about it, his cousin may have been stuffed... I didn't hear a peep out of her.

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