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Memoirs of a Boy-Mom: On Camping

June 6, 2013


Three years ago, my newly-married father and step mom extended an invitation to our family to join them at her annual family reunion at Bass Lake. My step brothers and their families would be there. My own brother would also be going. This is the story of my first (yes, you read that right) foray into camping.


I’ve never really had any desire to go camping.

I’m not a nature girl. I like hot water, clean toilets, shaved legs, and comfy beds. I don’t like bugs, dirt, public restrooms, or poison oak.

But they begged. And they pleade

No way!
I said.d. I almost agreed until I found out Gabe was scheduled to be in Vegas for a conference.

Not by myself. I wailed.

Who would pack the truck? Program the GPS? Clean the bugs off the windshield?

But they begged. And they pleaded.

I’m a big girl. I can try new things. I told myself.

I agreed.
Two nights. Two boys. One mom.
I can do this.

I took half a day off of work just to prepare…I bought groceries, organized gear. (It takes a lot of gear). The next

morning, I was up at 4:30am in anticipation of my 5:30am alarm. And we were pulling out of the driveway by 6:40.

Not bad! I thought. Now, type the address into the GPS and away we go.

But the GPS didn’t like the address I had. It also didn’t want to just send me to the nearest town. We lost 30 minutes trying to convince the dadgum contraption just to navigate me somewhere near the campground. Finally, we came up with a point on the north tip of the lake and away we go. Again.

Mom, can we watch a movie?
I said. Look out the window! Enjoy the view!
Hey look, tractors! Orange trees! *sniff sniff* GARLIC!

Check out the pretty reservoir!

I held them off for an hour and a half before agreeing.

After a few sundry obstacles…goldfish down the pants, a jammed VHS player, one potty break…four hours later we hit the north point of the lake and the GPS dropped me off.

Except the lake was on my right.
The lake was supposed to be on my left.

Turnaround, try again.

The lake is still on my right.
It’s supposed to be on my left.

At this point, Scrappy, my two-year-old in the backseat, is wailing in frustration at being in the car so long.

He’s tired. It’s naptime.

I’m tired. It’s naptime.

I try to call my dad but I can’t hear over Scrappy’s wails.

I get out of the truck and stand on the side of the road,

On the wrong side of the lake.

And set up wailing in frustration myself.

A nice man cautiously approached the crazy lady and offered directions.

Now the lake is on my left.

Good. Progress.

Ten minutes later we were unloading. It was 100 degrees. The only facilities are a spigot, four bathrooms with a toilet and a sink (no mirror – in hindsight, seeing oneself  after two nights of camping is probably unwise). Lots of bees. Lots of dirt.

I fail to see the allure, here, people.

An hour later we were on the beach. A breeze is blowing. We’re in the shade and perfectly comfortable. The water is about 80 degrees. No sooner had we arrived than my seven-year-old was invited

to join a water fight by cousins he’d never met. They generously (and bravely) handed over the AK47 of water rifles and proceed to spend the next two hours joyfully destroying each other.

Then he was invited to go tubing behind Uncle Roger’s boat. Papa went along, so I took a deep breath and waved from the beach. He came back glowing and gloating over his triumph: I didn’t fall off, Mom!

Scrappy toddled about the waves in his little life-jacket. We ate peanut butter sandwiches in camp chairs; the breeze off the lake was perfect.

Evening brought hotdogs in the camper for the kids, a quick bath in the sink for me and I left to join my new siblings and cousins for adult conversation, margaritas and burgers at Ducey’s on the other side of the lake.

There was a live band playing 8

0’s next door; we sat on the balcony in the balmy summer night for hours laughing and talking. At 9:30, all the lights on the dock and balcony went out.

The lake was full of bobbing boats.

And fireworks.

Right in the middle of the lake. It was bliss.

It wasn’t the most pleasant of sleeps, but Scoob was in the tent with his cousinsi, and I was in the camper without any critters sharing my bed, neither arachnid, arthropod, nor child.

Morning brought a pleasant cool and a cup of Peet’s.

I’m starting to get it now…

We swam, We tubed. We pulled up to the dock in a boat to pick up burgers  right on the dock. It felt like we were in some movie about summer life. Scrappy nodded off in the boat, his little arm up on the arm rest, and my hat pulled low over his eyes, like an over-partied boater passed out in the corner.


We dropped anchor off Falls Beach and Scooby climbed the granite face for a go on the God-made water slide gushing with glacial melt.

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The evening brought a picnic on the beach with my brother and family, and more fun with the babies in the waves. There was so much malachite in the sand that the waves shimmered in the setting sun.

S’mores, sleeping kids, a glass of wine in a Solo cup by the fire with my new family.

This is good.

I bathed over a sink. I shaved my legs in a public restroom. I hosed down naked kids in broad daylight off the back of the camper. I didn’t wash my hair for three days. The boys loved peeing out of doors, and Scrappy had dirt in places I won’t even tell you about. We were coated in sunscreen and bug spray. We had to fight with bees for our food.

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, even more so because I shared it with my kids.

I get it. Can’t wait to do it again. 


The conversation continues over on Facebook. Follow my author page for more insights and resources about living a shiny, abundant and beautiful life. And surviving boys – that, too. 

memoirs of a boymom

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    June 6, 2013 6:49 pm

    I’m sure one day I will have to do it, but for now, I’ll take your word for it.

  2. Evelyn Acord permalink
    June 7, 2013 8:55 am

    Love this piece on camping! I can so relate. You brought me smiles and chuckles. We did a lot of camping and boating with the kids at Lake Berryessa. Yes like you the first time I experienced dread in the preparation, but once there – there are no words to express the sheer joy of family, friends, boating, fishing, swimming, hot dogs and dirt! The kids thought they had ‘died and gone to heaven’ – lol. I am sure Marcia was the dirtiest. After being home for sometime I found our little Brian peeing out in the back yard! Had to explain he could only do that sometimes while camping! Ha.

  3. Christie permalink
    June 7, 2013 7:34 pm

    Love it! We go camping every year! This year we are being adventurous and camping in a tent (hubby and the kids have never been).

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