by Jason Hayes
(Hampton, VA, USA)
When I think back to my childhood, I remember my dad, and all of the times that we spent outdoors, summer, as well as winter, and all of the fun that we used to have. My father was an avid fisherman, and hunter, but his real love (and mine too, even now) was camping.
I remember when my dad first took me camping, I must have been about seven years old, and we took a trip up to Wisconsin, dragging on of those old egg shaped campers behind his huge black truck. It seemed like it took half of the day to set up the camper, leveling it out with jacks, and hooking everything up; but after it was finished the fun began. Me and my father spent a full week in the outdoors, fishing in the lake, cleaning our catch on the shore, and cooking them up over the campfire at night. I still remember showering in the camp bathroom, with what must have been the coldest water in North America, and then running back to the fire when I was finished, to warm up, and set down to a breakfast of cooked eggs and grits that he had prepared while I was getting ready.
At night, up there at the camp site, listening to all of the animal noises, he would explain to me what each one was; he would tell me about the constellations in the night sky, and the myths that the names came from. My father would tell me stories about his father, and the times that they went camping, and all of the things that he learned back then from his dad. All I could think about some nights, out there looking into the darkness, was how I couldn’t wait to take my own children out there one day, so that they could feel the same sense of wonder, and manliness that I did, being out in the woods, almost alone for what seemed like a month.
Now that I do have children of my own (two boys), we go camping at least once a summer, and I can see in their eyes, as I tell them about the constellations, and about the stories that are associated with them, that my family tradition will continue on.
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