Simon had been planning a campout with our son for his birthday for months. They would have a few friends join in for a night of s’mores, games, and sleeping in a tent in my folk’s large backyard. We all put those plans to rest when Simon got sick. I tolerate the outdoors and was not excited about moving forward on the idea because of the work involved and because of the overwhelming sadness of knowing how special camping was to Simon after many years of scouting.
A dear friend of ours, and former school teacher to our son, approached me privately a few weeks ago and expressed his desire to host the campout. He knew how fun it would be for the kids and how much it meant to Simon. Another dear friend of Simon’s called and said he wanted to help. We decided the Sunday night before Labor Day would be the least obtrusive to parents – no school or church in the morning. The guys set up the tents, hosted games, and kept seven little boys entertained for sixteen hours! There was a bit of sleeping involved, too.
We started the evening off with a s’mores buffet, complete with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for those with discerning palettes. We also brought out hot dogs for roasting around the California-style fire pit. Parents were invited to stick around but, not surprisingly, every last one dropped their kids and took off. Not gonna lie, I would have done the same thing! After getting the kids sugared up, they ran around for an hour then settled down for some stories and games.
Our daughters, a girlfriend, and I headed inside for our own sleepover, complete with a 19 Kids and Counting marathon. We could not stop laughing at one of the episodes where the oldest daughter, who was being courted by her future husband, accidentally gave him a frontal hug versus the customary side hug. Everyone in the family was freaking out and commenting on her lapse of judgement. If giving full frontal hugs is a crime then I’m in big trouble. I certainly have moral expectations for myself and our kids but frontal hugging is not one of my hot button issues!
The boys eventually settled and fell asleep around 11pm. The chaperones said they went to sleep fairly easily with the exception of the standard who-can-make-the-best-fart-sounds-with-various-bodyparts competition. Our daughter was disappointed that she couldn’t stay in the tent overnight and made sure to be the first one up at 6am to help everyone rise and shine.
The adults shuffled around the kitchen gulping down coffee while we put a movie on for the kids. Breakfast (pancakes, fruit, and cereal) was done by 7:45am. With nearly three hours left before pickup, we had to get creative on how to pass the time. The boys took a little hike around the neighborhood and near the base of the small hill range near my folk’s house. Then the chaperones fashioned an obstacle course in the backyard where the boys were timed for agility and accuracy. The last hour was spent in my little brother’s old room, which has a rock wall and loft. Basically, a little boy’s paradise.
Lack of sleep and sugar hangovers aside, I hope the memories are sweet for our son and all involved. Simon would have been proud.