Happy Camper

When I was nine, I was afraid of the dark. Deathly. When I was nine we also went camping with friends of ours. When I was nine I decided I HATED camping. And nature. But mostly camping.

We had a camper that slept six or eight people (I’m guessing) and though I don’t remember much of the actual “camping” I do remember one night in particular at the campground.

I remember a lot of dark. And me crying. And begging to go sleep outside by the fire where my dad was. I remember that. I remember my mom and pretty much everyone else who I was keeping awake to tell me to knock it off and go to sleep (paraphrasing of course). I remember begging for a night light. Or something. Anything because it was. Pitch. Black. As in can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face black. And there was a lot of nature sounds. Bugs. I would have given my left arm or my little sister to go sleep outside by the fire where I could see.

My mom, being a mom who was operating on little sleep (and pregnant with my little brother I think), repeatedly pleaded with me to go to sleep. That if I shut my eyes I wouldn’t know it was dark out because my eyes would be closed and it would be dark anyway.

Oh sure. Tell a scared nine year old that it’s just as dark when she closes her eyes. Go with me here. I’m scared. I don’t like the dark. I’m in the woods, granted at a campground – but what do I know about campgrounds? I’m NINE. Do you really think I’m going to close my eyes now? Nope. I’m going to cry more.

And so I did.

Eventually pity was taken upon me (ie, no one wanted to listen to me cry anymore) and I was given a flashlight.


Then the batteries started to die.

It was a long, long, dark night. When I began to resume my afraid of the dark whine and cry, my mother growled at me in the dark something to the affect of me not needing a flashlight anymore because my butt would glow if I didn’t stop crying and go to sleep. (Of course I’m paraphrasing here but anyone who has heard my dad tell the story knows I’m not far from the actual quote).

(full disclosure: I was not abused and my butt never glowed that night. I turned out just fine thankyouverymuch.)

I don’t remember the rest of the trip. I can’t tell you if that was the first night or the last night of our camping trip. All I can tell you is I hated camping from then on out. Camping and the dark and batteries that were clearly not Energizers had scarred me for life. Nothing good would ever come from camping in my opinion.

Until last weekend. Bebe’s girl scout troop had been planning a fall festival. For the junior girl scouts it meant an over night camp out at a small privately owned campground.

She wanted me to camp with her.

In a tent.

With outhouses.

Insert panic attack here.

I flailed about on the decision to go until almost the last minute. We weren’t even sure I could go because I thought I’d only paid for her to attend. Turned out the money I’d paid was for the food for the festival itself. Yay me. I could go.

So on Saturday morning, I packed my van with sleeping bags, camping pads, blankets, pillows, gloves, hats, extra clothes, more blankets (Umm… Hi. I live in Ohio and it’s the middle of October), hoodies, fuzzy socks, Purell, fresh drinking water, baby wipes (oh yes I did), a tent (God help me), more clothes, me and the girl and we drove all of 12 minutes away from home (Dude. Any further and I would have completely bailed on this trip) for what I was POSITIVE would be the longest 24 hours Of. My. Life.

Then we arrived.

It was a good day for camping.
We set up camp.
The campfire was built.
Patches were earned.
I survived the outhouses.
And the dark.

While I did think about how I had not been camping since I was Shorty’s age (Bebe’s girl scout troop leaders got a huge kick out of that), I didn’t worry about much else other than making sure Bebe would be warm enough (she forgot extra socks) or if she would make it through the night. She had camped with the girl scouts before but in a big lodge, with electric. And indoor plumbing. (That’s more my style).

My girl came through like a trooper though. We didn’t freeze to death. She told me she loved it. She had a blast. I had fun watching her have fun. She was glad I went with her and I was glad to be there with her too.

And before you ask… Yes. I brought a flashlight. Or two.

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 763 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.


  1. Awww… I love your story. You’re an awesome writer! :)
    But seriously, how many flashlights did you bring? Haha. Cheers! :)

  2. Awww… I love your story. You’re an awesome writer! :)
    But seriously, how many flashlights did you bring? Haha. Cheers! :)

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