Iâ€™ll never forget my first camping trip. I was six years old at the time. I ventured into the forest a boy, and emerged a man. I was the self-proclaimed King of the Forest, and I didnâ€™t need a homemade crown of antlers and eagle talons to prove it. I just wore one anyway.
And now that I have a son, I figured itâ€™s never too early to expose him to the untamed wilderness. Since heâ€™s only four months old, I contemplated some sort of warm-up prior to a real camping trip. Originally, I thought about pitching a tent in the back yard, just to see how he survives at night amongst all the dingoes and gypsies that live in our neighborhood.
I decided against it. This isnâ€™t meant to be a vacation. Itâ€™s a camping trip. Itâ€™s about survival. And ultimately, I decided the only way to transform him into a man is to drop him off in the wilderness alone and let him fend for himself. Well, he wonâ€™t be entirely alone. Iâ€™ll let him borrow my Rambo knife, you know, the type that stores matches and fishhooks and a compass in the handle.
So heâ€™ll have a survival knife. And of course, weâ€™ll dress him in camo as well. And the rest will be up to him.
Sure, it will be dangerous. Especially since he canâ€™t crawl yet. I think that will really help him build character though. If a cougar attacks, he wonâ€™t be able to just run away from his problems. Heâ€™s going to have to deal with it head-on. I can feel it already; heâ€™s going to learn some important life lessons on this trip.
It will be cold too. I generally donâ€™t let him play with matches, so he doesnâ€™t have much experience with fire. Consequently, there is a good chance that he might start a forest fire. Thatâ€™s ok though. I almost look at it as a rite of passage.
Of course, his mother doesnâ€™t know about any of these plans yet. But thatâ€™s the idea. Iâ€™m already concerned that sheâ€™s babying this baby too much as it is. Itâ€™s time for him to become a man.
And weâ€™ll begin that process tonight by leaving him alone in the wilderness. And when I see him again in a few days, hopefully he will emerge as the new King of the Forest, unshaven, well-fed and draped in animal pelts, just as I was, 22 years ago.
Here’s a shot of Charlie and I in our respective full-camo attire. On a related note, I’m in the market for a matching baby-sized pair of camouflaged fingerless gloves. If you run across such an item, let me know.