Our best-laid plans

By Jacob Brooks

Jacob-BrooksMy brother Josh and I had been looking forward to this evening all day. We had made plans to go camping with two of our buddies, Nathan and Gage. Now, when I say, "made plans," I mean we sat around bored, for an hour, trying to decide what to do, and at 8 p.m. we decided to go camping. As with most of our planning, getting into details was unnecessary.

We decided to set camp down at the river, which is about three miles from the house. The original course of action was to load down our four-wheelers with supplies and go set up. However, we didn't factor in the importance of having daylight to set up a tent. I wish now that I would have kept quiet, but I made a suggestion: "Hey guys, someone should go ahead and set up the tent." Because sometimes I forget to think before speaking, the others delegated the job to me. Lucky me.

I grab the tent bag, hop on my four-wheeler and head to the river. By the time I arrive at the location of what would be home for the next 11 hours, it is completely dark. Trying to pitch a tent in the dark is an enriching experience. I have never been so frustrated in my life. After 30 minutes of making zero progress, one of the fellas finally shows up. Nathan dismounts the four-wheeler and makes his way toward me: "Tent up yet?" As you can imagine, I answer in the nicest way.

I assign Nathan to be the official flashlight holder. Unfortunately, Nathan has a small fear of moths. What honestly should have taken five minutes seems to take an hour. Every 30 seconds a moth flies near the flashlight, and Nathan drops the light and screams. He then picks up the flashlight, shines it on the tent for maybe 30 seconds, and drops it again when the next moth arrives. We could have won an award for the most inefficient outdoorsmen of all time.

With the tent finally up, Nathan and I just have to wait on Josh and Gage. Of course we wait in the dark; heaven forbid we cut the light on and a moth shows up. Josh and Gage eventually show up, but they bring with them what seems like every single blanket and pillow this side of the Mississippi. At first, I don't mind because I'm all about being comfortable, but it becomes an inconvenience when there is hardly any room in the tent. The four of us are pretty good-sized boys. Being forced to cuddle up close to one another is not exactly our forte either. Anyway, we finally lay down for the night, and I think the madness is over. The only thing on my mind is waking up in the morning, so I can go home.

Around 7 a.m., I am startled awake by two loud screams. I look around the tent and notice Nathan and Josh are missing. I get out of the tent to see what's happening. Nathan and Josh are running towards me, screaming their heads off and swatting the air around them. They had stepped on a nest of yellow jackets, and, needless to say, made the inhabitants unhappy. I watch as they run by me and hop on their four-wheelers to make their escape home. Gage, being allergic to bees, also makes a quick getaway.

I am left to watch the chaos, reflect on this 11-hour disaster, and clean up our campsite.

About the Author

Jacob Brooks served as the electric cooperatives’ Youth Leadership Council national spokesman in 2010 and remains active in the annual Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. He attends Appalachian State University.

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