“Camping: nature’s way of promoting the motel industry.”
- Dave Barry
This post is actually an entry for a “Camping Trip Gone Wrong” Story Contest YA Flash Death Match , which ends 09/19. If can think of a camping horror story for YA readers, enter. The stories will post on the blog from 09/22-09/26, and you can vote for your favorite entry.
Here’s my entry (based on a true story, but adapted for YA. The name of the boyfriend has been changed to protect the camp-happy):
I like the outdoors. Really. I’ll hike if it’s not too long or treacherous. Or hot or rocky. I’ve even mountain biked on some twisty trails. But I’ve never understood why on earth anyone wanted to waste time camping.
My boyfriend, Sid had never camped either. Well, he went to sleep-away camp as a kid, but that’s not the same… apparently. He decided we should go camping, so he borrowed a tent and two sleeping bags. It shows how much I liked Sid that I actually agreed to go.
“Let’s really rough it,” he said.
“Not having a hot shower or flushing toilet is roughing it. You’ll be sorry when you see my hair without a flat iron to tame it.”
That’s not what I meant. No cell phones. No iPods.”
“Fine. I can live for a day without them,” I lied.
Sid chose Assateague Island in Maryland because it had wild ponies. I thought, sure, why not?
By the time we reached the island and chose a spot with other campers on the beach, it was dinnertime. After struggling with/setting up our tent, we began eating our picnic dinner. The other campers’ setups should’ve been our first clue of what was to come. Most of them were protected by large screen canopies. For a few minutes, Sid and I ate and talked. Then the sun sank a little lower in the sky, and the mosquitoes attacked. I had brought a natural bug repellent, but I might as well have smeared barbecue sauce all over my body.
He and I threw what was left of our food in a bag without bothering to close it securely, and then we dove into our tent, zipping it shut as quickly as we could. The next few minutes were spent whacking the mosquitoes that had invaded our tent.
It was early. We had nothing to do. I was itchy. And I was in a BAD MOOD. Not very romantic. We had our first huge fight. I don’t even remember over what – well probably over Sid dragging me camping, which was the dumbest idea. Ever. I blamed him for not bringing bug spray. He ridiculed me for making a big deal over (as he put it) a few mosquitoes. I ended the argument with, “I bet you wish you had a cell phone or iPod now.” With nothing else to do, I huffed as I smacked my pillow into a “comfortable” position to go to sleep.
Have you ever tried to sleep on sand? Not a nap while baking in the sun, but overnight? It’s hard and lumpy. It took hours to fall asleep because I was hungry, itchy, stuck on sand, with sand stuck on me, and my large number of mosquito bites had given me a fever. Awesome.
At some point, I drifted off to sleep. That’s when I heard them. First their clop, clopping on the ground. Then their teeth ripping our bags of unsecured food. And then their pupupupup sounds like when you blow air through closed lips. The ponies had surrounded our tent. I don’t know how big they were, but from my vulnerable position, I was pretty sure they could trample us if they wanted to. Did they want to? “How wild are these wild ponies, anyway?” I whispered.
I scooted closer to Sid. He put his arm around me and I nestled in his chest. I guess we were making up. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night, even when the ponies finally devoured our food and left the campsite.
The next morning, we assessed the carnage - our bags of food had been ripped to shreds. Sid packed up the tent. Before we left, we walked down to the beach. In the first light of morning running at the shoreline were several ponies, free and wild.
“They’re beautiful,” I gasped.
“Not scary now,” he added.
I noticed their large size, but didn’t say anything. These were not the cute little ponies I’d ridden on at the fair as a kid. No wonder I had feared for my life when they surrounded our tent.
After that horrendous experience, on the way home, Sid and I agreed not to camp with one another EVER AGAIN.
*** FYI ***