So today as I was pitching my fort (see my first post), trying to recall how the screen tent went together, I remembered a time camping cross-country alone in my twenties. I pulled into my site after dark and needed to set up my tent.
I threw the bag on the ground and attached my dog's leash to the picnic table. After shaking out the tent I snapped the poles together. I heard two young males at the next site laughing as it took me a few attempts to get the poles in the right places.
Grrrr. . . .
Then I realized I'd locked my keys in my pick up and couldn't quite get my arm through the cracked window. Nothing to do but ask the guys for help.
Grrrrrrrr. . . .
As I unlocked my door (yes, this was before electric locks) I dreaded going back. I knew their snickers were about my girly struggling over simple tent erection (pardon me). But when I returned their hanger, one offered me a beer.
In a nice, not creepy, way.
So I broke one of my personal rules and accepted.
Then he told me they were impressed. That they'd laughed at how they wouldn't have been able to put their tent up in the dark.
I learned a valuable lesson about making assumptions and about how I beat myself up for not being flawless. I like to think I've taken both lessons deep to heart.
Still, I'm damn good at setting up tents, and believe it's an important life skill.
Especially for girls.
I write, read, recreate, and raise kids in rural Pennsylvania. I teach part-time in Outdoor Recreation Leadership, Creative Writing, and Women's Studies at Mansfield University.