Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Campout in the Great Outdoors

Ever since Boy Scout camp, Cooper's transformed into a tween Bear Grylls.  He nestles under the pine trees and marches through the nearby corn fields.  I imagine his mind transforms our manicured lawn into a rugged wilderness; he no longer cuts through the grass, but savage brush.  The tennis racket in his hand converts into a machete. 

When Cooper returned from Boy Scout camp, he begged for a backyard campout with his friends.  He requested a night to "live off the land."  All meals would be prepared and enjoyed in the Great Outdoors.  A popup tent would provide ample lodging.  Entertainment would be provided by Mother Nature.  Cooper extended an invite to his Boy Scout friends.  Four buddies agreed to the rustic overnight accommodations.

To prepare for the night, the boys and I visited the grocery store for supplies.  I grabbed graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and hot dogs (among other necessities).  When I reached for a bag of chips, Cooper scoffed.  "Chips aren't living off the land," he explained.  "They can't be prepared in the fire pit."

His outdoor enthusiasm continued.  When I suggested his friends bring swimsuits, he dismissed my idea.  "Swimming isn't living off the land," he declared.

Connor, who overheard Cooper's chip and swimsuit statements, declared, "You know you want everyone to have fun, right?"

With a little nudging from his brothers, Cooper acquiesced on a few items.  Swimming and chips would be allowed in the evening.

On the night of the sleepover, the boys arrived at our home.  As I imagined, they immediately jumped into the pool.  After an endless amount of water wars, we roasted hot dogs over the fire pits followed by s'mores.

When the sun dipped under the horizon and stars blanketed the sky, the boys retreated into tents.  Flashlight beams illuminated the tent walls.As I walked into the house to escape to my own bed, I heard the flutter of whispers and giggles floated across the lawn.

The next morning, Chris left for work early.  The boys awoke at first light.  I strategically placed wood and logs within the fire pit and struck a match onto the kindling.  The wood smoldered and smoked, but the flames seemed trapped and stifled among the embers.  Despite my best efforts, I could not ignite the fire.  My fire pit breakfast plans went up in smoke (kinda).  I retreated into the kitchen where my Great Outdoors breakfast was prepared on the stovetop.  To pass the time, the boys jumped onto video games.  I guess the Great Outdoors just can't compete with Fortnite.  

Mid-morning, the parents arrived to retrieve their children.  Bleary-eyed boys packed up their belongings.  We said our goodbyes with promises to campout again.

Hours after the sleepover, I gazed at the fire pit.  Flames leaped from the logs, contained within its brick confines.  I giggled.  So I can light the fire pit, it just takes eight hours to blaze.   

Cooper begged to sleep in the tent again that evening.  Thunderclouds and rain drops thwarted his plans.  He slept indoors on his bed, reluctantly.  On the next dry evening, he wandered back to the tent to the place where he truly feels at home.  

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