Thursday, January 26, 2012

Accidental Winter Camping

The questions on my blog yesterday sparked this memory. The Hodgepodge is its own form of therapy because I'm pretty sure this is a memory I'd successfully blocked.

Way back when, I was a girl scout leader for Daughter2's troop. Once upon a time we attended a camp out on a gorgeous warm spring day and although we were booked into a cabin for sleeping, the girls clambered to switch to the platform tents instead. Me, being the great outdoors woman that I am, said okay. It was April and we were in shorts all day long. The sun was shining and some of the girls even got their feet wet in the river.

Flash forward a few hours to dinner. We ate with some of the other troops in a central location and as we were eating the weather began to change. We decided to gather up our belongings and head back to our tents which involved a bit of a hike in the suddenly deep, dark, scary and slightly wet woods. Now that darkness had settled in the girls were terrified unhappy at the thought of being spread out into several tents so we piled everyone together into just two. There weren't enough cots so I, being the great outdoors woman that I am, said I'd sleep on the floor because I can stand anything for one night.

Or so I thought.

The rain that started off as a sprinkle had suddenly turned into a downpour and it was lightning in that spooky, Friday the 13th sort of way. Next came the winds. I can honestly say I have never in my life been outdoors in winds like these.

Have you ever slept in a platform tent? For those of you who aren't in the know, the tent is tied to the platform all the way round, but there's still a gap of several inches where a little bit of light gets in and a whole lot of wind. At one point I seriously thought the tent was going to lift off the ground ala Dorothy in Oz.

It felt like we'd been in our sleeping bags for hours when a couple of the girls awoke and were sniffling, aka sobbing. My co-leader and I said reassuring things like, ' Just close your eyes and before you know it, morning will be here.' One of the girls asked me what time it was and I made the gargantuan mistake of looking at my watch. I replied, 'Almost morning-try to go back to sleep'. The other leader said she knew better than to ask for the precise time since she figured if it really was almost morning I'd have said it.

It was 11:55.
Not even midnight.
Oh dear.

One mom had taken her daughter to the car to sleep early on in the evening. We should all have done the same but have you ever been so cold you can't even entertain the idea of moving even when you know you should? Pretty sure that's how people die in the woods.

I slept that night wearing every article of clothing I'd brought with me. I tucked my knees all the way up to my chest and pulled my fleece over them and shivered and prayed. When I woke up I was literally frozen in that position. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to unfold my legs. I told my co-leader that I had never in my life been that cold and we both said the air had that same feeling it gets when it snows. It was the middle of April and had been 85 degrees the day before so no way did it snow.

We peeked outside.

Hello white winter in April while I'm sleeping on the floor of a platform tent in hurricane force winds. We learned later that there were tornadoes spotted in our county. It was kind of like The Perfect Storm except we weren't at sea and of course there was no George Clooney.

I bet right now you're wishing I'd been your daughter's troop leader.

And I don't know how much time you've spent with tween girls but wet, tired, hungry, and frozen does not a happy camper make. Pun intended.

Everyone involved in this little weekend still speaks to me.
Just sayin'.

I'm not sure they've ever camped again but we are still friends. Nothing bonds you to someone quite like a shared near death experience.


  1. You have articulately explained why I have "never, ever" camped and "never ever" plan too. ;-)

  2. More justification for my vow to never camp! ha!

  3. Too bad there was no George...maybe he could've kept you warm! :)

  4. Seriously Joyce, I never thought about George but he WOULD have helped immensely :-). That was the last time I ever camped ... and I do find myself thinking about that experience every now and then. I hope the girls appreciated us :-) (or at least maybe do NOW??!!)

  5. Omg that is some story and the fact that you still enjoy camping is a shock! I can't even imagine the cold you must have felt...burr!
    I remember GS camp and the platform tents....oh the fun times and not so fun times...I'm not a camper!

  6. I drove my granddaughter and some other girls to Girl Scout camp last summer and I was very glad to be dropping them off and going home. The tents/cabins were very similar to what you dexcribe and it can get very cold in the Colorado mountains, even in the summer.
    I hope you have been able to re-bury that revived memory.

  7. I went camping a few times and I wasn't a big fan of sleeping in a tent. However, nothing I've experienced comes even close to what you went through! WOW! Oh, I can only imagine just how "happy" all those girls were. Ha...been there, done that!

  8. That is the reason, I only camp in summer, even then the nights get chilly in Northern Arizona. I imagine by the next day the kids had forgotten all the hardships and were back to having fun.

  9. Wow! I guess that qualifies as cold. Yeah, tent camping has never been my thing. My outdoorsiness only goes so far. Glad you lived to tell the tale. :)

  10. You just reinforced several of my life decisions.
    1) Never to camp.
    2) Didn't let my girls join GS.
    3) Don't sleep on the floor.

    Thanks Joyce!

  11. Now that was an experience! You certainly had God watching over all of you. I stayed in one of those platform tents when I was in Girl Scouts. We use to camp in our 20's and have awakened up to snow. Burrrrrrr......

  12. Exactly why I told my husband if we ever went camping I would have to have a CAMPER! Guess who won THAT battle?? Ahem, just sayin'

  13. George Clooney would've made it all better, right? Ha!
    You were true Girl Scouts. Did they get multiple badges for that one?

    ot - I posted the green chili quiche recipe today.

    1. Well, that's a horrible memory. I remember the days of taking the kids camping (none quite as bad as that) - some where the tent ended up saturated with water, harsh winds blowing, and of course you're lying there on the cold, hard ground! Why is it kids think this is fun??

    2. Now I know why I've never wanted to go camping! Hubby and his family keep telling me I need to try it. No thanks. If I'm not going to be in my own bed, then I at least want to be in a nice comfy warm place that someone else will clean up before I come back for night 2.

  14. You are one tough cookie!
    I would have zipped out of the forest and into a Motel . . cause I'm a weather wimp.
    No camping for me! Ever!

  15. Yep. Just one more reason to not camp.

  16. Oh, my. I would have died when it was only 11:55!

  17. Anyone can have one bad night. I remember a bad night when I was a boy scout sleeping in a tent on a cold night.

  18. I too was a Girl Scout leader - in your hometown! We had our meeetings at Helen Morgan. I loved being a leader EXCEPT for camping! I told my parents from the "git-go" that if they wanted their daughters to camp they would have to take it on.
    As a kid my parents favorite family vacation (and most affordable) was camping. I grew up camping in tents, then a Shasta trailer (my parents upgraded. ha) When I met my hubby and we vacationed IN HOTELS (!!!) there was no going back.

  19. What a great story. Three cheers for living to tell it!

  20. Once again, I am thankful that my people don't camp! :)