(This is a pic of a tent in our Denham Springs backyard. Just for illustration)

“We’re going camping! Yeah, we’re going camping!” I can still remember the excitement in their voices. When my sons were young, camping, boat riding, skiing and fishing were their favorites.

But I never liked camping. My kind of camping is to put a sheeted foam mattress on the den floor with fire going in the fireplace. And with the television remote, snacks and drinks within reach. I like conveniences: a clean toilet and warm shower. I don’t want to go out in nature when nature calls. I don’t want to share my bathwater with the beavers. If I wish to roast marshmallows, or even bake sweet potatoes, the fireplace is the perfect place.
I had my share of camping though–for I married a “nature nut.” If it were left to my family, every weekend would be camping time. I was usually just coerced to go, so I never had to do anything but pack my own. My husband was always enthusiastic and did all the preparation for each camping trip. He shopped for groceries, gas for the boat, gas for the kerosene lamp, batteries, baits, other fishing items, and other things.

So, into the van, everything goes plus an ice cooler full of drinks. Another cooler for perishables. And not to forget the iron skillet, the portable stove, the grill. Coming home from a camping trip is usually the downside. All beat from a weekend of fun, I’m left to unpack, clean up, and wash clothes.

The men in my family would go on a whole weekend trip with the children to their favorite spot at Cleco Lake. The women (my sisters) would go for the day to join them, then go back home for the night. All four dads would bring their boats and a fishing tournament starts as soon as the tents are up. The younger kids are part of it, too. Many times, the youngest fisherman, 5 year-old Brandon, caught the trophy bass.

The campers had their share of rain. What do they do during a rainstorm? Some stay in their vans while most stay in their tents. They sing until the rain stops. Sometimes it rains all night. So, while the women are at home in their comfy beds, they worry about their young children probably drenched to the bone.

But there was one camping trip I will never forget. It was a church campout. We drove two hours to find Percy Quinn Lake. With the boat hooked onto the van, we merrily went our way. But a few miles from the site, the van’s engine stopped. Prayers ascended to heaven for some thirty minutes. However, the engine wouldn’t start. Another camper saw us and before long, help came and we reached the lake.

That afternoon after the boat riding, it rained. After the torrential downpour, the earth seemed to have released all the steam it had kept. Our two-compartment tent was like a sauna! I couldn’t sleep in it. Another family slept in one of the compartments. I never understood how they slept so soundly.

Before midnight while everyone was asleep, I decided to sleep in the van. But I had two problems: the mosquitoes and the heat. I opened all the doors to keep cool. When I covered myself with a sheet, I got hot. When I took off the sheet, the mosquitoes sang a feast song. So, I kept myself covered.

I never slept that night. From the light of my watch I saw it was around 2:00 in the morning. I heard a slight noise outside. I slightly lowered my sheet and saw a man on a bike outside the van door. And he was looking at me! I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how long he’d been standing there. The van was some 100 feet away from our tent full of sleeping people. And its doors were on the side away from the tent. Should I scream? I froze.

“Oh God, please drive him away!” I prayed silently.

But the man didn’t go away. He was still looking at me for what seemed like the longest two minutes. Then I saw his hand move as if trying to reach for me. I let out an “Ohhhhhh!” and I moved. I must have scared him, for he took off. Needless to say, I did not sleep the rest of the night. I just lay there praying until morning. That was my last camping trip.

Psalms 140:4 “Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked…”