Monday, September 23, 2013

Finally Camping Out

When I was a Girl Scout in elementary school, our troop went camping several times a year. I never realized what a rare and valuable experience that was, and never appreciated how much work our wonderful leaders put into those expeditions. Of course, we lived near the established camp called Ross Trails, in southwest Ohio, (which is now closed, I hear) so we didn't have to deal with tents and the cots were already set up. As adults, Dick and I have talked on and off throughout the years about going camping together. He and Andrew used to go with the Indian Guides, so he had a tent and some equipment. But I never could deal with the food end of camping, and we just put it off
A couple who volunteer at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve are veteran campers, however, and Doug has organized campouts for up to 100 people with the Boy Scouts. Just what we needed! Camping out with training wheels! Come to think of it, we were the only ones there without children. 

Doug planned the meals and bought all the food, then showed us how to start a fire using dryer lint as tinder. You can get a little "flint and steel" starter for about $7 he says. We made hobo stew using canned vegetables and pre-cooked sausage or burgers, seasoned to taste and wrapped in heavy duty foil. Yum! Waiting for them to cook, and finding your supper among all the others was the hardest part.
We had lots of night activities planned. Biologists set up mist nets on the Preserve that night, hoping to catch some bats for banding and release. Since we had such a large group, however, we took a hike without flashlights, and in complete silence, just to feel the night. It's amazing how much you can see if you leave the lights off.  Of course, it helps that the Harvest Moon was shining brightly!

I brought out some of the mounted owls from the Nature Center and talked about owls, playing their sounds, but none were interested in investigating our group then. We did see a couple bats flying by the frog pond, but no moths came to our lighted sheet. A cold front had moved through the night before, and I don't think there were many insects around. Later that night, two moths were attracted to the bright camp lantern while we cleaned up for the night. Didn't want any raccoons tearing up our supplies! Singing around the campfire and s'mores entertained everyone just before bed. I thought I would remember more of the old Scout songs...will have to look them up before the next campout.

We got the tent and air mattress set up in the afternoon, and I knew to sleep in sweats that night since the temp would be going way down. Fortunately, my husband is very warm, but the cold seeped up from beneath, and I'm not sure if I really slept any or not. Didn't feel like it. I enjoyed listening to the crickets, and a pack of coyotes howled at the Harvest Moon somewhere. Once in a while we heard a Screech Owl and maybe a Great Horned Owl calling in the night. Overall, a very cool night, in both meanings!

When the sun rose, a mist covered the meadow, while we all enjoyed blueberry pancakes and leftover dessert from the night before. You just don't worry about counting Weight Watchers points when you go camping!  I'm looking up how to make coffee over a campfire for the next trip. Doug says it is possible to get the tent back in that little duffel bag it came in, but I'm not quite sure I believe him. Thanks you, Doug and Charon, for arranging a really fun campout!