So back in the fall as I was planning out our Homebuilders class calendar, I had this bright idea to have a Men & Boys Campout. Someone should’ve stopped me! But we forged ahead and camped like never before (speaking only for myself, of course). Here’s how it went, leaving out some details that are for live conversation only…

After school, I took my “adopted” son for the campout, Cody Francis. He is one of the teenage boys in our school and he grew up in North Carolina. I thought to myself, “I’ll have me a country boy and I will be safe…” Yeah, right! One of the first questions he asks me as we were driving up to the mountains was, “How many times have you gone camping?” I gave him a confident answer, “This will be my second time.” The last time I went camping was in 1993 and that story deserves more time and web space. I can see that this did not bring comfort to Cody’s heart. But I was with a North Carolina boy! I asked him the same question he had asked me- you don’t want to know the answer!

Anyhow, we got up to the campgrounds situated in the Tonto National Forest and we could not find our group. We had talked about contingency plans: where we would stay for the night ( a hotel, preferably), what we were going to eat, etc. Just then, we found our group and got to the campsite. Things were about to get a lot of fun!

Camping-expert Cody tried to help me set-up the tent. I make it no secret- I’m a city boy! This is one of the disappointing revelations I shared with my wife’s family (her Dad especially) when I first met them. Anyhow, North Carolina boy had no clue what he was doing! We stuck the rods (I don’t even know if that what you called them) in every logical sleeve on the tent. When we got all of our rods in, it looked nothing like a tent. Well, it did- after a storm had finished with it! We solicited some help from another man in our church and the “two-man tent” was up. Notice I said “two-man tent” in parenthesis. Let’s get this straight, I have been bountifully blessed physically of the Lord. And Cody is no little boy! The man that loaned me the tent said that he and his son (ironically enough also named Cody) usually use that tent together. My response, “Well, me and my Cody ain’t sharing this tent.” Cody found a tent with one of his friends for the night as I gently shoved my air mattress in the tent. Yes, I said “air mattress!” Listen now, you can take the boy out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the boy!

We finally got to cooking dinner and sat around the fire for a few hours. My tent was so pretty to lay in. It had one of those tops that are see-through so I was looking up at the stars all night. Unbeknown to me, that was letting all the cold 30 degree weather in. As I enjoyed the stars, I was praying not too lose my fingers and toes to frostbite.

The morning was uneventful as I woke up to go to my car to thaw out. I turned on the heater and stayed in there for a good while. I then made some hash browns, eggs, and sausage for breakfast. This was no weight-watcher meal, that’s for sure!

After breakfast, I began to pack up. I noticed that it was a whole lot easier to tear down the tent than it was to put it up. No laughter, please! After cleaning up, I went fishing with another Dad and his son in Payson.

The ride home was boring in comparison to the actual camping experience. Except for the part where I almost ran over to javelinas in the middle of the highway. Let me just say this and it is not just a cliche’, “There’s no place like home!”

Frank Barich to the rescue as he sets up my tent.

Gathering around the fire after dinner.

It’s way past these boys’ bedtime.

This is me and my “adopted” son, Cody.


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