If you’re a camper, perhaps you’ve seen those ready-made checklists that are designed to help you remember all your woodland requisites. Tent? Check. Sleeping bags? Check. Handcuffs? Oops – wrong list!
And you know why? Because children and camping are not a good mix. Taking anyone under the age of 18 camping (especially if you’re crossing a state line) is a very bad idea. Like snorkeling in shark-infested waters wearing a pork chop Speedo, nothing good can come from it, and it’s likely to turn out badly for you and everyone around you.
Last weekend, my wife and I, along with our nephew Chris the Fabulous, went camping at Government Canyon State Natural Area near San Antonio. We got our sites set up and were chilling in the peace and quiet of the natural world when new neighbors—four moms and I would guess about 2,000 children under the age of 5—showed up.
Goodbye peace and quiet, and hello pande-fucking-monium.
Let me say up front that I do not hate kids. But—much like firearms and public nudity—there are times and places that are appropriate for them and others that are not. And a place where grown-up humans (i.e., me) are trying to relax is no place for kids.
To begin with, kids are boisterous and loud—which is cool on a playground but not so cool when you’re camped next to a cranky old white dude who’s totally trying to get into the latest Michael Chabon novel.
And did I mention loud? If there is any sound more grating, more piercing or more irritating than the shriek of a 3-year-old who has just discovered her first (or even hundredth; it doesn’t seem to matter) roly poly, I do not know what it is. My high-frequency hearing is largely a memory; like a humpback whale, I can’t hear much of anything above 60 cycles. But within 30 minutes of our neighbors’ arrival, my ears had started to grow shut out of pure self-defense.
And the energy! The kids in the camp next to us woke up—and of course woke us up—every day at 7 a.m. An atomic clock could not be more punctual.
Getting up early (and perky!) is bad enough. But once these kids were wide awake and fully stoked on youth and high-fructose corn syrup, they would play a 12-hour game called (apparently) “Run Around Shrieking Like Our Hair is On Fire And … Ooh Look A Roly Poly!”
For us, the high point of any camping trip is cooking and eating, and this trip was no exception. This time out we tried a couple of new recipes—Transformer pizzas that turned into burritos, and campfire donuts made from a tube of biscuits (and before you scoff, let me say they were both to die for).
Not sure what the moms in the neighboring camp were eating but I’m pretty sure they were feeding the kids chocolate cupcakes, apparently frosted with espresso and crystal meth. The kids were non-stop until after dark, when they’d retire to one tent or another to watch a movie.
Blair Witch Project, I hope.