Years ago, I dated Sandy, a woman who had an eight-year-old son. His name was Paul. He was an obnoxious little kid and I really didn’t like him all that much. Reminded me of myself when I was that age.
One day around the end of October, I went over to Sandy’s house for dinner. When I got there, out of the blue she asked me if I would like to take Paul on a father and son camping trip. It seems that Paul’s father had backed out of the deal at the last minute. I asked Sandy when it was. “Tonight. In about an hour.” She replied.
I tried to make up excuses as Paul pleaded in the background for me to take him. I was totally unprepared to go on a camping trip, especially since I had no tent and the temperature had gotten down to a frosty 32 degrees the night before. “You can share Paul’s tent.” Sandy said. “Great.” was my reply.
I fished around in the back of my truck and found an old, greasy Army blanket that I kept back there for emergencies. I guess this sort of qualified as one.
We met the other campers at the Rockwood’s reservation just west of St. Louis just as it was starting to get dark. You could already feel the autumn chill in the air. Most of the other campers had brought along heavy duty sleeping bags and a couple of them had Winnebagos. Heated Winnebagos. I told one of the other fathers that I only had an old Army blanket. “Don’t worry.” He said. “You won’t even feel the cold once you fall asleep.”
He was right. I fell asleep and woke up about an hour later freezing to death. I thought to myself: “Forget this. Paul can have his camping trip with these complete strangers, but I’m not going to freeze out here in the middle of the woods.” I got in my truck and left after leaving a note on the door of one of the Winnebagoes.
When I got to the entrance to the park, I discovered that the gate was locked! I drove around to the other gate. It was locked too. There was no way out of the park after dark. I seriously thought about just ramming the gate. But then decided I had no other choice but to turn around and go back to the campsite.
Luckily there was the small remnants of a fire that the campers had built earlier and I huddled around that with the blanket until it was almost out. For the rest of the night I scavenged around for stray sticks and tree branches to keep my little fire going and managed to survive. The next morning I discovered that the emergency water bucket that was outside of Paul’s tent was frozen solid.
I was cold and exhausted when the camp leader announced “Kids and dads. We’re going on a five-mile hike this morning!”
According to the St. Louis Front Page, registration is now open for the city’s summer camping program. The program will allow children to take place in such activities as arts & crafts, games, fishing, swimming, tennis, field trips and special events. And children from 7-14 arrive early in the morning and leave at 4 in the afternoon. This program for younger children is at Lindenwood Park only.
Pre-registration is mandatory for children who want to attend camp at Cherokee Center, Lindenwood Park, Marquette Center, Willmore Park and Wohl Center. Pre-registration is open now and runs until the start of day camps and will be accepted for four one-week sessions.
I wonder why they didn’t have these types of programs when I took Paul camping?