WEDNESDAY: What Do People See in Camping?


Copyright is held by the author. This story was first published in the October 2012 issue of Canadian Stories magazine as an entry in their Photo Story Contest.

“WHERE are the sleeping bags?” my nine-year-old daughter Lori asked.

“Pardon?” I was curled up on the sofa deeply absorbed in a murder mystery by my favourite author.

“Sleeping bags,” Lori repeated. “Do we even have sleeping bags?”

“They’re in the storage area downstairs,” I replied without looking up.

A little while later Lori stood in front of me trying to command my attention. “Do we have a flashlight?”

“Sure, front hall closet in the emergency box,” I said. “Are you camping out in your bedroom again?” Lori loved to make forts in her bedroom, but I thought that phase had passed.

“No, this is the real deal. Steph invited me to sleep over in her backyard. They’ve got a tent and everything!” Lori said, excitedly.

I put my book down. “Well then, we better make sure you have everything you’ll need,” I said.

My mind wandered back to my one and only camping experience. We were already at the cottage, but my friend’s parents had pitched a tent in their backyard and Carole invited me to sleep over. I don’t even remember the fun stuff, just not being able to get comfortable all night and the fact that her parents didn’t serve toast and tea at bedtime like my mom always did. Honestly, I don’t know what people see in camping!

“Why don’t you use this Coleman lamp? It’s battery operated,” I explained.

“Naw, I don’t think you can make very good faces with that,” Lori said.

“Faces?” I asked.

“You know, faces.” Lori picked up the flashlight and put it under her chin and shone it up towards her eyes with her lower jaw jutting out. “Um, it works better in the dark,” she admitted.

“Oh yeah, faces,” I said, starting to remember us doing something similar.

“Do we have cards?” Lori asked.

“You want playing cards? I thought you kids only played electronic games now,” I said.

“No electronics. Those are the camping rules,” Lori announced proudly.

This camping was sounding better and better. “Do you know any card games?” I inquired.

“Well, we’re getting a bit old for Go Fish, so Steph is going to show me a game called Crazy 8s.”

Crazy 8s. We played that for hours on rainy days at the cottage. We might have even played it when we camped that night.

“Do you know any good ghost stories?” Lori asked.

“Hmm, I think ghost stories are your father’s specialty. Maybe he can tell you some before you go,” I suggested.

I think we did tell a few ghost stories in the tent, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember them.

I pulled the sleeping bag out of the plastic bag, untied it and unrolled it on the bed. “I’m going to show you how to roll and tie a sleeping bag, so that you’ll know how to do it in the morning,” I said.

I folded the sleeping bag lengthwise and then rolled it up tightly. I tied one of the strings around the bag, looping it twice before tying it in a bow. “This is the important part,” I explained, “if you loop it twice it won’t slip while you tie the bow.”

“Wow Mom, I didn’t know you knew how to do camping stuff,” Lori said, sincerely.

“Your father taught me that in our old boating days,” I said. “He was a boy scout.”

After dinner we walked Lori over to Stephanie’s house. As I sat in the kitchen that night having a cup of tea, my husband noticed my deep-in-thought look.

“What’s up? Are you missing Lori?” he asked.

“I think we should start camping,” I declared.


  1. Leslie Cranley-Blades

    Great Story.
    It reminds me of when my kids would sleep out in the back yard with their friends.

  2. Pingback: What Do People See In Camping? | Natalie Witt
  3. Nancy Boyce

    Thank you Leslie, my ever faithful cousin who reads all my stories. I’ve had emails from friends who also commented that the story brought back fond memories.

    Natalie, thank you for the link from your blog. I didn’t even know if I should submit this story, but am happy now that I did.

  4. Nancy Boyce

    Thank you Brian; your comment means a lot to me. I’m looking forward to attending your writing workshop in March.

  5. Connie Cook

    Thanks for the story. It’s resurrected a few memories of tenting in a back yard, as well as reminding me of the smell of unfurling those musty old sleeping bags.
    Well done.

  6. Marilee Jikey

    It is interesting how one thing leads to another and how a loved one’s interest can uncover past joys.

  7. Nancy Boyce

    Thank you Marilee and Paddie. I think we all need to rediscover activities that gave us joy as children. Paddie, I’m hoping to see more stories from you.

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