In which I chicken out

IMG_3243So I started the Cub Scout camping trip this weekend with high hopes. I packed rain gear and cold weather gear. I drove up with my 9-year-old and 7-year-old to Rickett's Glen State Park, which is a lovely place in the Poconos about 2 hours and 15 minutes north of us. I knew the weather was iffy, but the troop leaders decided the trip was still on, since it looked like we'd have scattered showers, and not a total deluge.

There were some fun moments. The drive up was picturesque; I keep finding new corners of Pennsylvania to explore, and rustic mountain towns have their charm. We went on an amazing hike past roaring waterfalls, including a nearly 100-foot drop.* The rain let up during the hike, or perhaps more accurately, we hiked during the pause in the rain, and my boys did very well with the 3-hour excursion. They gave me far fewer heart palpitations than the opportunity presented (by, say, jumping between slippery rocks right next to a 100 foot tall waterfall, etc).

However, other than that it rained the whole time. Buckets of pouring down rain. That might not have been so bad if the temperatures were decent, but by 7 p.m. it had been raining for hours and it was already in the low 40s and dropping. This morning the forecast stated that Rickett's Glen had dropped into the 30s and it was snowing. I don't know for sure, because I wasn't there. Once I stopped being able to feel my feet, I decided I would suggest heading back to sleep at home. My 9-year-old was happy to leave as we were all getting colder and colder in the tent, watching the ground beneath us become more and more puddle-like. The 7-year-old was more interested to stay (he's the one in the troop) but by the time we were eating dinner huddled under a tarp he was shivering pretty much uncontrollably. He was not averse to sitting in the car with the heat going while I (and the same neighbor who helped me pitch the tent) packed up the tent.

Then it was back down through the hills, and down the PA Turnpike northeast extension in a rainstorm that had me feeling, on parts of the road, like I was not entirely in control of my car. We stopped at a service plaza and raced inside, it was so cold. I reminded my kids that this is what we would have been out in, all night long. Instead, we had pretzels from Auntie Anne's.

I was very glad to sleep in my own bed. When I had to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I was very grateful to walk there in 70 degree, dry comfort, as opposed to in the freezing rain.

I do feel a tad wimpy, I suppose. I recognize that people have survived outside in much worse. Indeed, several families from the troop did tough it out. My hat is off to them, but I am hoping to preserve the idea of camping as "fun" in my mind, as opposed to something approaching what one reads about with the troops in Valley Forge, another great Pennsylvania park location. So we lost the battle to win the war.

Have you ever camped in the rain?

In other news: Because I came home at 10:30 p.m., we canceled the sitter for the morning who would have watched the kids while my husband ran the Broad Street 10-miler (I said she was welcome to work if she wished, but she was happy not to need to get up and come to our house at 7 a.m.). I brought all four kids to the 7-year-old and 5-year-old's swim lessons at the YMCA. I put the 2-year-old in the playroom. When I picked him up, one of the attendants started with that wonderful phrase "So he behaved very well but..." The victim this time was a little girl who was in between him and some toy, and got shoved over in the process. Sigh. I had realized, in our discussions of whether we would leave Rickett's Glen, that the one thing my 7-year-old was really looking forward to with the camp out was donuts for breakfast. So we stopped for donuts at Wawa after the swim lessons. People do a funny head count when you walk in with four children marching behind you. Good times.

* No photo. I hiked without my phone. #offtheclock

Photo: Something akin to eating around a campfire, albeit on I-476.

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7 Responses to In which I chicken out


  1. Connie C says:

    I don’t think you chickened out at all! You made, IMHO, a logical decision based on the information at hand.
    Warmth wins for me every time!

  2. jennie says:

    My mother would drag us camping all of the time growing up. Rain, snow, sleet…
    As a grown up, I “don’t camp.” I will take one for the team on a lot of things, but my kids know the camping thing is out. I have been a scout mom for over 8 years and have managed to never go.( My kids have been blessed with troop leaders who love it, and I, happily, contribute in other ways.) I think it was smart that you left before it became a test of endurance, and was still fun. My mother’s idea of fun was the man v nature aspect and I can not bring myself to ever sleep in a tent again. I got tricked into a very rustic cabin (re: wooden tent) once, but you better believe I was checked in at the nearest hotel the next night!

  3. I am laughing. But I am also relieved that you got home safely.

    We camped when you were young but I think one of the last times was when the partying went on until 2 am next to us–and then you kids were up very, very early the next morning. I was hoping for revenge and didn’t tell you to be quiet. But the partyers were also up ready for fishing at dawn.

    Ah, the memories!

  4. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    My husband and I went camping ONCE, before we had kids. It poured the entire first day, so we left on Saturday, of what was supposed to be an entire weekend!
    I can totally relate to your decision!

  5. Kristen says:

    I would so definitely have packed up and come home. No doubt about it.

    I love being outdoors, but I’ve decided I pretty much just like to be outside and THEN have an inside bed to sleep in at night. So, yes to a hike during the day. But then could I please have a hotel room?

  6. Sofia says:

    My husband and I were canoeing in a nature park once and one night it rained hard and our tent got wet. We proceeded to paddle for 25 miles (plus we carried the double canoe with all the gear for about 1 mile across dry land) to get out of nature and into a hotel (we were beginners, so this was a really long stretch for us. and took all day). I’ll never forget how great it was to get into that hotel.
    Camping is supposed to be fun, and it’s not fun in the rain. Especially not with kids. I’d also have packed up much sooner 🙂

  7. Ruth says:

    Camping in the rain – oh my. My husband drag races, and we used to camp instead of getting a hotel (can you say “cheap?” – I knew you could!). We were in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and woke up to torrential rain on the tent, and water leaking onto the increasingly puddle-like floor (to borrow your description). We had a dining canopy over the picnic table, so we started throwing things onto the picnic table, and then into the back of our truck. By the time we had the tent down, we were either standing on the table or in ankle deep water. We ended up sleeping in a screened shelter house (which should have been locked, but we lucked out). We got a hotel the following night. Good times!!!

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