Worst Camping Trip Ever. Chapter 1

tent baw

I knew we were in trouble the moment Dad arrived home with the new tent.

“It’s a beauty!” he said, showing the blue, sausage-shaped bundle to the whole family. “There are window flaps and even somewhere we can hang a lantern.”

“We don’t own a lantern,” I reminded Dad.

Mum bent down and picked up a large rectangular box. There was a picture on the front of a rechargeable lantern. “We do now,” she sighed as Dad grinned over her shoulder.

There was also a photo on the blue sausage. The picture showed a young girl and her parents smiling in front of a beautifully erected tent. In truth, I was relieved to see the tent came with a picture because I knew when we started putting it up we’d need a general shape to be aiming for.

“But Dad,” I said, reading the label, “it says this is a three man tent.”

“That’s right, Tristan,” Dad said happily as he pulled the lantern out of its box to charge it.

“But there are five of us!”

Dad gave me the face he uses when he thinks I’m being unreasonable. “Brandon is only a baby, so he doesn’t count as a man yet,” he said, referring to my eighteen month old baby brother.

“And Meg?” I asked, trying to get him to see my point.

“She’s barely taller than Brandon. And anyway, she’s not a man either. You better remind me to revisit the birds and bees talk when we get back. You seem to have missed something.”

“And what about me?” I asked, a little impatience entering my voice. How does he expect us to fit a family of five into a tent meant to sleep only three people? I mean, I’m a bit on the skinny side, but I’m hardly a string bean.

“You’re a string bean,” declared Dad, slapping me hard on the shoulder. “Don’t you worry. There’ll be heaps of room.”

In the lounge room, he added the tent to the growing pile of stuff we were taking and then he joined Mum in the kitchen to pack food.

Most years we go to Grandma’s for Easter. She lives near the beach. Having a week to swim in the surf and play beach cricket makes the long, boring two-hour trip to the coast worthwhile.

“Easter is about spending time with family,” Dad always says. But as Mum’s family lives in New Zealand he should probably say, “Easter is about spending time with my family because we can’t afford to fly to your family.”

This year Grandma decided to go on a cruise with her friends rather than spend Easter yelling at us to put on hats and slap on more sunscreen. At first Mum was excited we might be staying home for the holidays. It was obvious from the brochures which suddenly appeared on the coffee table that Mum thought Easter was about painting the house.

That made Dad decide Easter was an excellent opportunity to take the family camping for a few nights.  There had always been discussions about sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and stargazing, but then there had also been discussions about buying go-carts, jet skis and ponies, so I never took them seriously.

I looked at the mountain of bags, pillows, eskies and blankets which had taken over the lounge room. You would think we were going for a month. Suddenly, I was struck by a thought.

“Dad?” I asked. “I don’t suppose you bought a trailer as well?”

“A what…?” called Dad from the kitchen. He was filling yet another esky, this time with meat from the freezer.

“A trailer!” I called back.

“For what?” He walked into the lounge room and dumped a green bag containing the BBQ utensils on the pile.

“All this,” I said, pointing at the stuff we were taking – it took two fingers, and multiple jabs with those fingers, to cover the lot.

“We’ll be right,” he said, smiling. “I have a plan.”

Chapter Two


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