| Our campground this year was Paso
Picacho in the Cuyamaca State Park.
Paso Picacho (or as some of the kids in our group insisted on
it, "Pablo Picasso") is several hundred feet higher in elevation than last year's campground
, Green Valley (also in the State Park), and seemed correspondingly
cooler and more forested. Everyone agreed that this was the nicer
of the campgrounds, and we should endeavor to return here in the
future. That is if there is a future for the Sherwoods on these
group camp outs after Keith's behavior on this one.
| Keith has a very hard time
letting go of his Wilderness Ethic (or Environmental Ethos) developed
25 years ago when he hiked and backpacked extensively in Colorado and
New Mexico as a Boy Scout and Explorer. Sometimes when his
backpacker mentality collides with the family car camping mentality,
the results aren't pretty. In fact, by the end of this trip,
amazed at just how over the top he could go, Keith named his alter ego
the "Camping Curmudgeon."
| The best way to explain the
dichotomy between the car camping mentality and the backpacker
mentality is how the visitor to the wilderness views
themself. What I disparagingly call the car camping mentality is a
one: this is my one time camping this year so I have to make the most
it, and this campsite must suppport my needs. What I call the
backpacker mentality is wilderness centric: this campsite must support
yahoos from the
city like me every single weekend, so I must do everything to make sure
is in better shape than when I found it.
| Now whether at this point you are
saying "all fine and good" or you are rolling your eyes at my
psycho-babble, you can surely appreciate that "it's all in the
| And the presentation is what put
the curmudgeon in Camping Curmudgeon.
Whether it was telling the adults not to feed the birds and
or telling the kids to pick up their trash, stop throwing things in the
fire, or speak in whispers until 7:30 a.m. so as not to disturb others
sleeping, Keith couldn't help but sound pedantic or holier-than-thou.
was like camping with a park ranger, always telling you what you
already knew, but what was more fun to ignore.
| The kids fixed the Camping
Curmudgeon good, though. Stopping a pack of 5 and 6 years olds
approaching the fire with twigs gathered from the ground, the CC
informed them gathering of wood was not allowed. Huh? The CC then
patiently explained the signs (apparently only) he had seen, and the
reason: with so many people passing through the campsite, if people
gathered wood rather than brought their own, soon they would be tearing
down the trees to feed their fires and destroying the campground for
future campers. The poor kids, thinking no further ahead than the
30 seconds of fun they were going to have burning their twigs, obeyed
the authority figure and dropped their twigs. But a child's
desire to play with fire runs deep, and they
soon had another game. Reasoning that grass was not wood, they
began pulling up tufts of the dried grass around camp and throwing them
the fire, thereby commiting exactly the environmental sin they weren't
their little twigs but that the signs (and the CC) were trying to
| The Bigelows have 4 children.
They invited two other families with 4 children, and two families
with 3 children. The Sherwoods
are definitely the under achievers in the group. Here are all 20
kids lined up, with Brad and Doug on the far right. This picture
may give you some idea why a interloper from another campsite asked
a completely straight face whether we were a Catholic or Mormon group.
was no third option offered; we had to be one or the other in this
mind (because who else would be so crazy, was the unspoken challenge).
| The boys played football
endlessly on a little patch of dirt between our campsite and another
manned by campers not of our group. Here Brad attempts
a field goal through makeshift uprights created by Doug, Spencer
and two lacrosse sticks. You can't see the ball because, after 3
of complaining about the size and shape of the uprights and arranging
and Spencer just so, Brad squibbed the kick along the ground.
| The Camping Crumudgeon made
another appearance when the children began roasting marshmellows for
s'mores. CC explained that you didn't
cook marshmellows (or anything) over a flame, but you wated for the
to burn down to coals, then cook over the even heat emitted by the
Alas, this cooking hint fell on deaf ears. You would have
the kids enjoyed having their marshmellows catch fire?!
| The single serious accident that
occured all weekend happend to Brad this evening. Brad got a
small second degree burn when another child inadvertantly swung around
his skewer and touched Brad with the super-heated end which he had left
in the fire. It was such a freak accident (and the perpetrator so
distraught) that even the Camping Crumudgeon didn't see
the need to pontificate onthe obvious dangers and consequences of
in the fire with metal skewers.