VIDEO: My guide to tent camping: Go with the flow

Rick Wagner • Oct 15, 2017 at 3:00 PM

WHITESBURG, Tenn. — Everybody at least once should go tent camping, spending time with the family and experiencing everything from fun to fussing without cell phones, tablets, computers or television.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your family if you sleep in a tent together overnight and spend time together in your waking hours, too.

I was “embedded” with the Pack 84 Cub Scout group of Surgoinsville Sept. 23-24. My younger son, Creed, my wife and I stayed at Camp Davy Crockett in Hawkins County. It is more than 1,800 acres owned by the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America on and near the banks of Cherokee Lake.

The GPS on my wife’s phone got us there just fine and mirrored the directions from one of the scout leaders, Conalita Reeves. (Her husband, Robert, has built an awesome camp kitchen that rivals a home kitchen for functionality and convenience.)

Creed and my wife went on to the first activity while I unloaded the tent bag and unpacked it.

Tent base/floor? Check.Tent stakes? Check. Tent poles? Check.

But what about the rest of the tent, the part that goes over the poles? Nothing of the sort.

My wife, who got her nephew to retrieve the tent from her father’s storage building, forgot to check. So we tried to call her father to see if he could find the rest of our tent, but the cell service wasn’t good enough. I was not a happy camper. So we went to ask one of the adults, Amanda Winegar McKaughan. She said Pack 84 leaders always brought extra tents and we could use one. That evening after supper, her husband, Phillip McKaughan, came and quickly set up a tent that unfolded easily and quickly, sort of like a beach chair.

Lesson one: Double check the tent bag to be sure all the tent is in it, but don’t be too hard on your wife or whoever for not checking the tent for completeness.

Throughout the day Creed got to do lots of neat stuff. He made a bottle rocket from soft drink bottles. He also played Gaga, a game that originated with Jewish children and is basically a modified version of dodge ball inside an octagonal enclosure. Creed took second place.


However, the activity he waited all day for was BB gun target shooting. In the evening heat, that target seemed about three miles away. He got all three of his shots inside a black circle the size of a dollar coin at about 25 feet. I guess the practice with his BB gun at his grandfather’s place is working. He also shot sasquatch (bigfoot) and other wild animals (well, outlines of them) with a slingshot and tried archery.

Lesson two: My younger son may be a better BB target shooter than I am.

Other than our tent mishap, a few other things went awry. At the Saturday night ceremony of the Order of the Arrow lighting of the bonfire, there was no sound system or electric lights, just flashlights to lead us through the wooded trail to the site. The Native American guys were easy to see and hear since they carried fire and chanted. The scout skits were funny but at times a bit difficult to hear or see.

Also, the weather was not normal for late September. It felt like 110 in the shade, but I think it really was in the upper 80s or low 90s and really muggy. My cousin at the shooting range, Doyle Winegar, said he was not sweating a lot but he felt like he was covered in syrup in the humidity. I closed the tent windows in the middle of the night because what started out muggy in the 80s ended up chilly but still muggy in the low 60s. God’s air conditioning kicked in full blast about 2 a.m.

Lesson three: Nothing at camp or in life is perfect but it always seems muggy. Just enjoy the light show whatever it is and the cool air whenever it comes.

Rick Wagner is the education writer for the Kingsport Times-News. He may be reached at [email protected] or (423) 392-1381.


Recommended for You

    Kingsport Times News Videos