Two Firsts (There's a First Time for Everything)

This weekend I did two things for the first time. One was camping in New York City, and the other was bringing a tent—sans poles. Oh well.

The occasion was the annual Boy Scouts night at MCU Park in Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor-league baseball team. This year the date coincided with the National Wildlife Federation's Great American Backyard Campout. My boys have done it a couple of times with their father, but this was my first time. I was having a lousy day and really did not want to be there. However, we had signed up weeks ahead of time so there we were—late since we came direct from an overlapping obligation.

After the game, there was a fireworks show, then a long wait for the organizers to get organized, and then we were in. Or out—in right field, to be precise. We started setting up on the lush ball-field grass, laid out the ground cloth, pulled out the tent and fly—poles next. Poles? Uh-oh.

Oh, no! Should we try to find spaces in other Scouts' tents? Call the Tarpmaster to bring the poles? We're supposed to be some of the most experienced campers in the group; it was just too embarrassing. Tree Kid and I were both kicking ourselves for not having checked.

I figured when I was their age, I slept out under the stars, we could do the same. (In fact, we weren't the only ones, another family brought just an air mattress and bedding, no tent.) Luckily the forecast showed no rain. We put down the groundcloth, put our sleeping bags on top of it, and spread the fly over, just in case. In fact there was no rain, not even much dew, and thank to my earplugs, I slept much better than I expected. There were too many bright lights for any stars to be visible, unfortunately.

Live and learn.

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