Every once in a while I get an amazing idea, no matter what my wife thinks.
Two years ago, for Christmas, I had the idea for something called Man Camp: a good time of camping between my two sons and me with no influence from my wife or their sister. I wanted it to be a time of bonding and a time where I could teach them the ways of a man, as far as I knew (IE lots of spitting and scratching).Sometimes the teacher learns as much as the student…
Here are just a few of the things that I learned from our first Man Camp:
- As soon as you make a big deal about organizing the camping trip For The Guys Only–away from the influence of “the women-folk” your wife will not speak about it again for the rest of the year and you’ll forget.
- She will remind you when the summer’s over and it’s too late.
- Just because your wife reminds you the second year, during the actual summer, it doesn’t mean that she is booking the campsite for you.
- Campsites don’t book themselves.
So as you can see, Man Camp has its value. The weekend looked like this:Tuesday at midnight: My wife asks me what time I was leaving for camp this weekend. I pick an arbitrary time that will be impossible to make, like 5pm immediately when I get off of work.
Wednesday at noon: My wife calls me at work-“I know I’m being ridiculous but you HAVE booked a campsite, right? I know I usually have to book two months in advance.”Me: “All taken care of.”
Wednesday 12:30pmMe (calling the campsite): “I’ll take any spot. Anywhere. Even by the dumpster.”Campsite attendant: “Doesn’t your wife usually book with us…like in the Spring?”
Thursday 7pmMy wife reminds me to go shopping for food for Man Camp. My Wife: “Where are you getting the money to pay for this food?”She knows I hate that question because there’s only one place I get money at any time, and that’s from her. If she’s asking this question, it’s bad news.Me (my mind is racing. How can I convince her I’m in control AND ask her how much money is in our bank account??): “From our budget?”My Wife: “Nice try mister. Man Camp was your idea so you have to pay for it.”
Friday 5pmLeave work and streak home, remembering that I haven’t packed anything. I saunter into the house, business-as-usual.My wife: “Are you ready to go? The boys are waiting.”Me: “Pretty much. I’ll just grab some extra supplies.”My Wife: “Like the tent?”Me: “Honey, don’t meddle.”I rush downstairs and madly pile tent, air mattresses and various pieces of hardware into a bag.
5:15pm I drag everything upstairs and meet my boys and my wife in the kitchen. Me: “Guys, let’s talk essentials. We need shelter (pointing to the tent), food (pointing to the cooler full of food that I had to pay for myself) and tools.”At this point, we each pull forth our “Camping Knives”. Huge shiny blades. Thick wooden handles. Leather sheaths. Me: “Awesome. We’re set. Let’s go.”My wife: “Do you need any cooking utensils?”Me (rolling my eyes to my boys as we all pat our knives): “I”m sure we’ll be okay.”
7pmWe find the campsite and starting setting up camp. Each of us has our knives firmly strapped to our belt, Just In Case.
Ben: “Dad, where are the tent pegs?”Me: (remembering the blur of packing that took place in the basement): “Should be in there. Check the van.”Ben: “I did already. They’re not there.”Me: “This is a good opportunity to use your Camp Knife to make your own pegs out of branches.”
7:10pmBen: “Dad, the pegs I cut keep breaking. And it looks like rain.”Me: “No problem, I’ll head out to the camp store and pick some up.”
7:20pmBen: “Dad, why did you only buy 6 pegs? We need twice that amount.”Me: “Because the camp store sells them for $1.50 each and that was all the money I had.”
9pmTents are “basically” up. A fire is crackling in the pit. Duncan: “I’m going to go shower. Where’s the bag with the shampoo, soap and toothpaste?”Me: “Hmmm. Pretty sure I put it….your mom must have moved it.”Duncan: “So no soap.”Me: “None. Just like the pioneers.”Duncan: “You know they only lived to the ripe old age of thirty, right?”
7amI wake up to the sound of the cook stove being lit and bacon frying. Duncan: “Dad, where’s the flipper?”Me (from my sleeping bag): “Should be there.”Ben: “Didn’t you tell mom you didn’t need cooking utensils?”Me: “Just use the plastic forks.”Duncan: “On the hot frying pan?”Me: “You have to be fast at Man Camp.”
3pmMy wife: “Hey! I didn’t expect you home so early!”Me: “Man Camp was fun but we all missed you.”My wife (to my boys): “Well, did you learn valuable lessons with your Dad?”Ben: “We learned how to improvise when you don’t have the right tools.”Duncan: “We learned how quickly plastic forks melt on a frying pan when you’re cooking bacon.”Me: “My work here is done.”