ManCamp Part 2

Did I wait long enough to REALLY keep your interest?  Sorry about that-wasn't supposed to be quite so long.

It occurred to me that not everyone knows what "ManCamp" is. Here is a brief history:  A few years ago, my son and I set off on a camping trip with "no girls allowed".  Just him and I alone for a weekend to do the dangerous things that men do.  We started off with one nighters at a campground that was within 5 miles of our home.  May as well have been a million miles away, and we decided that it needed to be an annual tradition.  Thus, ManCamp was born.

Baring a one year hiatus (2011 was cancelled for disciplinary reasons-sometimes as a dad you have to hit where it hurts to teach the right lesson-mission accomplished and clearly 2012 was back on) ManCamp has gotten progressively longer and further away from home.  So this year's destination was the heart of the driftless area near Wildcat Mountain State Park, a neat little resort/campground/former bible camp called Rustic Ridge Resort.

Worth the drive.  Trust me.
It is no small coincidence that we both like to fish, and the Wisconsin Inland Trout Season is a week from being over...and we were camped in the driftless.  But the truth is, we were so busy that I only wet a line for maybe a half hour after a hike.  I know, it is sacrilegious.  But despite the lack of time on the water, in the heart of some of the best trout fishing on earth, I don't really feel bad for not fishing much.

The time of year, and cold/rainy start to the weekend must have kept people away, because aside from one other campsite, the campground was empty.  Good thing too, since there was a shoe burning ceremony and other dangerous things to be done.  It was probably best that the place was nearly vacant.   Had there been people around...we might have accidentally shot one of them or their camper with our slingshots.  (Which would have caused bad karma...and we would have had to find another offering to the gods).  We shot rocks all over the place, and at every tree, pole, picnic table and empty fire pit we could find.  Then we shot some more.  There were only 2 rules: (1) Never shoot towards people, buildings, campers or cars. (2) If you kill something with your slingshot, you have to eat it.  A rule that most certainly saved a few crows and squirrels lives.

He's not left handed...he just shoots that way  
In a way only camping can provide, we both calmed down over the course of the weekend.  Work and the business of life have worn me extra thin lately.  And starting fourth grade has taken a lot out of my dear boy, coupled with a recent brush with the rigors of being friends with different girls who were at odds with each other has also had his nerves frayed.  To be clear, he is adamant that they are NOT girlfriends.  Just girls who also happen to be friends. In any case, a weekend away was definitely needed, and we agreed that a couple more days would have even been really good.

Wise he is.  At the ripe old age of 9, I think he understands the need to find a quiet corner of the world every once in a while to help you find your center.  When possible, and hopefully without detection, I also hope he came off with a couple of lessons learned about how to spend time in the great out doors.  I believe on top of that list is to NEVER skimp on your sleeping bag.  Good sleeping bags may have saved our hides since the thermometer dipped below 30 degrees both nights.  (As stated on Monday morning before school: "Geez dad.  I was warmer sleeping in the sleeping bag than I was last night") Another rule is extra socks.  A warm (dry) pair of socks can be a lifesaver.  Strange how warming your feet up can change your whole outlook

Beyond the unsaid rules, the weekend was awesome.  I feel lucky to have had the time in the camper before winter.  Lucky to have had this time with my boy.  And I believe that it can be summed up in photos better than I can ever tell a story.  Enjoy.

The boyz
When I dream of places to fish, they look like this
I was tempted to steal this sign (but didn't)
The view from the fire pit
Yes.  The dog gets his own chair.

Can't get this in summer...
There is just something about tying flies at a camp site.  
Next year, I think my daughter will be old enough to begin a tradition like this.  I am not sure it will take the same form as "ManCamp" has, but whatever form it takes...will be equally as meaningful to me.

Til later,


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