When growing up in rural North Louisiana it was normal to spend the nights under the stars.  This was a rite of passage for the young man as he becomes an adolescent.  Sleeping on the ground while stoking a fire and fighting mosquitos was part of the mystique that most in the city dwellers could not understand.  The excitement of not knowing what loomed beyond the shadows could be quit exhilarating and bordered on terrifying as an owl screeched in the dark.

Many of us were fortunate enough to have been part of the Boy Scout Troops in the area and the camping experience was refined to more than being an ordeal to being a true experience in nature.  Summer camping trips morphed to fall and winter camps and while our urban cousins experienced the outdoors from a television the youth of rural America created and lived the experience.

I was fortunate to have been a member of the Farmerville, Louisiana Boy Scout Troop .  I learned Morse code from the Bernice, Louisiana Scout Master while we were at Scout Camp at Camp KiRoLi in Monroe.  The local community supported the Boy Scouts and the camp was named for the organizations that built the camp; Kiwanis, Rotarian and Lion’s clubs.  This scout camp predated the current Camp T.L. James and is now a local park in West Monroe, Louisiana.  Life was good for a boy growing up in rural North Louisiana.

When I first arrived in Saudi Arabia the call for camping drew me into the deserts and coastal areas of the Eastern Province.  There was an exception to my earlier experience.  I did not venture into the desert alone but was accompanied by my wife in infant daughter.  This lasted for a year and then other activities entered our life and the tents found a permanent location on the shelves and attics.  With the exceptions of several very fun trips in America, camping faded from my vocabulary.

Finally, it has reared its’ head and Bonnie and I are rediscovering the therapeutic aspects of camping.  No more tents though.  We have compromised with a pop up camper and now with a travel trailer. There is now a larger camper on the horizon as we view a future that will include a large amount of time communing with nature.

We recently returned from a trip to Lake Ouachita in Arkansas as we continue to expand our camping experience.  Like we did in Arabia, we made some adjustment to the experience.  Our daughter, who as a toddler plodded through the sands of Arabia, was with us as were her two younger brothers.  The group expanded as we also had their children with us.  Our granddaughter, a clone of our daughter, blonde haired blue eyed and filled with excitement was with us.  The true excitement of being surrounded by nature was visible in these bright blue eyes.  It was at that time that the therapeutic aspects of camping no longer resided in my association with the great outdoors.  It now resided with sharing it with my children and especially my four grandchildren.  Each one was different in their own right but each one equally enjoyed the great outdoors.  This new journey in life is one that I am truly looking forward to as we explore the wonders of the outdoors together.

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