I have a confession to make: I have never been a camper. And I doubt I’ll ever be one.
I’m certainly not against slumming it for a weekend here or there, but there’s just something about sleeping in the comfort of your own bed, and not having to hammer in tent pegs in the fading light and playing peek-a-boo at night, trying to find the toilet.
With that said, I dabbled in the camping world this month, despite my lack of outdoorsy skills. My aim is to do it on a regular basis. My kids are keen and my wife encourages it. I certainly have no intention of becoming the next Bear Grylls, I just want to be able to get out of the city for a weekend with the family, braai a few marshmallows and wake up dry, even if it rains.
A dress rehearsal in our backyard a few weeks earlier, with few hiccups, gave me hope to make it official. So, off we went. Not too far in case it was a total disaster and we had to drive back, but far enough to get away from it all.
The tent went up well, the camping spot was perfect and the beers were cold. Not too bad for a novice? But the mood quickly changed when it came to the sleeping arrangements. An air pump that connects to the car – a gift from a camper – did not have the correct nozzle to blow up our double air mattress. No worries, I thought, knowing that I had brought backup in a manual pump. Wrong. My son informs me it has been broken for a while.
Dealing with the double setback, I decide to inflate the kids’ beds. Much to my shock I open the box to their inflatable beds only to find that you actually can’t technically inflate them. You need to point it towards the nearest cliff, open the side and run to get air in. Then snap it closed. And then redo that 20- odd times to partially fill it up, with no wind around. You can’t make this stuff up.
Watching me busting new yoga moves in a bid to solve the problem had my wife in stitches and me seeing red. I channelled that hot air into our mattress and told the kids to deal with their sad-looking beds.
The weekend wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Marshmallows were braaied, the swimming was glorious and my son even managed to catch a fish.
Not a five-star experience, but the memories made were worth it. We’ll do it again some time … despite the hurdles.
With the daily load shedding we are subjected to, you never know when you’ll need these skills.