Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 7, 2011

The Camp-Out

I should have known our camping trip would go awry when I saw this sign:

swim at your own risk

After all, it rained during our previous two camping trips in New Jersey, not including the the one that was rained out before it started.

However this one (at “Beaverkill” in the NY Catskills) started out nicely.

he caught nothing but had fun

Dori spent hours finding tadpoles, minnows and water bugs.

“Can I take them home? PLEASE?????”

And some happy chess games with our friends’ son

We heard reports that it was supposed to rain on Sunday, starting at 1:00 a.m., so we set up the borrowed Cub Scout canopy to put over the picnic table. At least if it rained, we’d have a place to hang out, eat and play games. It took 4 Ivy League graduates, including one PhD, two MBAs and me to put the damn thing up.

The rain started at 2:30 a.m., with thunderstorms and pounding rain. Our previously sealed tent started dripping from the middle, landing right on the chest of Mark’s sleeping bag. Drip, drip, drip. Dori’s pillow started getting wet from the rain coming in through the side (there was a fly, but apparently enough of a gap. The stupid design of our tent meant there was no fly (it was cut out) near the foot of our mattress, which was also now getting wet. No, we didn’t put a tarp over it. Mark and I slept fitfully. At 8:30 a.m. we got up to hide under the picnic table canopy and make breakfast.

beyond repair

Uh, that’s not going to happen. Now, in addition to having no canopy, we have to buy a new one ($150) for the Cub Scouts! If you think it looks repairable, you should look at the leg on the left (which is similar to the leg in the back, not pictured). The metal is bent in half. One of the metal attachments in the middle broke too. Not sure if it was from collecting too much water or it wasn’t stretched tight enough at set-up. In either case, these Ivy League graduates (among the few native English speakers at the campsite) were quite the talk of the little town.

Fortunately our friends had a tent with a foyer enclosure, where we ate breakfast, lunch, played games, read and chatted.

Zack and the boy wrestled.

And he’s down for the count!

By 2:30, it stopped raining just long enough for us to assess the damage. My duffle bag was sitting in a pool of water just inside the closed tent door. My clothes inside were all wet. Zack left his sleeping bag at the foot of the mattress (yes, all wet). Our mattress was 60% wet. Dori’ s pillow was wet. Mark’s sleeping bag had a pool of water on it. We decided to pack it in and leave a day early, much to the chagrin of the kids who STILL wanted to stay, even though our firewood was wet (it was under a tarp that leaked) and the rain was scheduled to continue.

We had so much water that the river rose and we weren’t able to play in it.


same spot, after

before…catching tadpoles

after…afraid the kids would be swept away

We did manage to take a short hike (around the woods near the bathroom) in between storms. Dori found salamanders, and lots of mushrooms.

“Can I take it home? PLEASE????????”

don’t eat me!


On the way home…it rained. And rained. But at least we got ice cream. And the kids still got (nasty) s’mores at home for dessert.

The pastry chef. If you’re thinking what a good idea this is, don’t try it at home. They weren’t very good.


  1. Awesome! Stove roasted smores!

  2. You need to microwave them for a few seconds. Your camping trip will go down as a fun memory. We usually camp near my parents NH condo so if it pours, we have another option 🙂

  3. I think the camping gods have been smiling at me, b/c they knew that if they let that much rain come down on me this early in my camping career, they’d lose me forever! We had one brief thunderstorm/rain shower, but managed to stay almost-all dry. I did have a rainy-day activity back-up plan (a nearby, indoor tourist attraction), but I hadn’t considered life with wet bedding, a wet tent, etc. I’m just glad we’ve been lucky!

  4. Love it Debbie. The comment $150 later after buying a new canopy for the Cub Scouts…really had me laughing hysterically! My dad used to bring cots (ok, cheating a little) but it kept us off the ground so water wouldn’t ruin our trip. Nothing worse than camping in the rain (and wind) but it does make for a great story and memory. Have fun this weekend.

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