Camp ground fun! Okay, maybe not...

It's spring camping season! I remember our first campout as a family. The kids were under six, we had three dogs and only two adults.

Clearly, we were insane.

It all started out well enough. My husband packed no less than 100 items into the truck and we left on time. We arrived at Lost Maples and set up camp in #13 (that was my first and last warning).

Within an hour, both kids were crying, one was bleeding and my husband was ready to pack up all 100 items and drive home. At one point I gazed across the campground at another peaceful set of campers and wondered if I could go home with them instead.

As night approached, my five-year-old asked me with great anxiety about what kind of things were in the "forest." I quickly tried to think of the most innocuous animal possible.

"Oh, just bunnies and stuff."


"Yes. Bunnies, raccoons, groundhogs."

She seemed unconvinced, peering into the darkening surroundings. I should note that it's not as if we were roughing it. We were half a mile from the highway in a paved campground with water and electricity. My husband had set electric fans up in our tent for petes sake.

"Besides, you don't have to worry about animals," I said. "We have the dogs. Other animals aren't going to come close to camp—they don't like dogs."

At that she visibly relaxed, convinced that our German shepherd would take care of her in a way neither of her parents could.

In the middle of the night, the dogs began to bark. We tried to quiet them from the tent, but they kept going. I decided to go cover their kennel. I didn't bother putting on my glasses since all I was going to do was toss a blanket over their crate. Also, despite the fact that we had ten different high-powered flashlights available, I stepped outside with my book light since it was handy.

Once I got out of the tent I heard what they were barking at. Something was rustling in the bushes. There I was, no glasses, everything more than a foot away completely blurry, armed with a BOOK LIGHT. But I'm cool, I'm cool.

I called out to my husband in a reassuring tone. "That's why they were barking. There's something rustling in the bushes."

A little voice rose out of the tent, just this side of hysterical. "Something's in the bushes?!"

Oops. Why do we always forget that children have ears?

"What's in the bushes?!" she asked again, urgently.

"Oh, just a bunny or something, sweetie."

"A bunny?" She seemed to doubt that I would have come outside just for a bunny.

"Or a raccoon."

"What's a raccoon?"

I covered the dog kennel and scrambled back in the tent. I reassured my daughter that raccoons were about the size of a cat. As she lay there, completely unconvinced, I realized that I had covered the dogs with a large packing blanket.

Could they breathe through that thing?

Needless to say, it was two years before we tried again – with an RV.