Some of my fondest memories involve camping. When my children were young, we would try and go camping during the summer vacation or during their winter break. Sometimes we would just stay in a cabin or motel and other times we would tent camp. I didn't have much money at the time so our daily activities usually involved hiking and exploring the nearby areas. We would occasionally visit a beach or river area where we would picnic.
In the evenings, I was often persuaded to tell stories. The older kids always loved "scary stories" while the younger ones preferred tales of fantasy.
When my oldest son Michael was about age 8 and my daughter Stephanie was 3, we vacationed at the Big Sur Lodge along the California Central Coast. We stayed in one of their upgraded cabins located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. One evening, the family started playing "Mad Libs". This was a booklet of very short stories and essays. Some nouns, verbs and adjectives had been omitted from the story. The idea was to fill in the blanks prior to reading the story. Your only clue was to fill each blank space with a noun, verb or adjective.
When the story was later read out loud, it was usually nonsensical and humorous in nature. It didn't take too many stories before my son Michael realized that if he chose "fart" for every noun and "farted" for every verb and "smelly" for every adjective, he would create a story that perfectly fit his 8-year-old sense of humor. After several of these classic pieces of literature had been created and shared, it was apparent to any adult that we needed to change the source of the evening's entertainment. Although the "fart-humor" was appreciated by the kids, to the adults it got old real fast. We needed to change direction; we changed to storytelling.
I don't remember exactly which stories were told but I do remember how my son enjoyed tales of monsters and axe-murders while my daughter preferred "fairy tale" type stories.
Many years later, I took my two youngest children, James age 7 and Stephanie age 12, winter camping in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. I had rented a tent-cabin; my son and daughter each brought a friend. It rained for three straight days. The kids were hyper and restless due to the lack of physical activity; cabin fever hits children rather rapidly. I was the only adult on the trip and by the end of the second day; the demands on me were beginning to take their toll.
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May 30, 2012
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