When I turned 12, my father pulled into the driveway dragging an old 1960s Nimrod pop-up camp trailer. He had a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t have been happier with himself.

For the next five years, my family went camping every weekend in the summer. I hated that camper. That was my parents’ sick idea of fun. To this day, I still have nightmares about those dreaded weekend journeys for a weekend of fun in the woods. My dad simply loved that trailer.

Those weekends were full of wet damp experiences with bugs, really bad bathrooms, no running water, people camping 10 feet away, eating lots of burned beans and wieners, and lots of socialization. For a 12-year-old who did not like crowds of people, hated getting wet, detested mosquitoes and despised using an outhouse, I was utterly miserable.

About 12 years ago, when my children were ages 2 and 5, a dear family friend offered to rent us their camp on a lake northwest of Waterville.

When she first made “the offer,” my childhood nightmares of camping hit me smack dab in the head. I was filled with chagrin, fear of wet, bugs and bad bathrooms. My wife finally talked me into a week at camp. We packed the car full of food, clothing and everything we needed and took off up the turnpike. That was the beginning of our annual sojourn to camp.

We have gone to camp almost every summer since our first visit 12 years ago. The kids are now teenagers, so the experience has changed with age.

I still get very grumpy because of all the noise, socialization and all the water. You would think that I don’t like water, but I do. I just don’t like to get into the water. I like to keep it at a distance.

I must say this family experience has produced many fond memories over the years. We have gone from watching infants, terrified that they might drown, to observing a pair of teenagers who look far too good in bathing suits.

This last time we went, my daughter was on the dock when some boys roared by on their Jet Skis. I quietly observed from the cabin. She waved and said hello. Five minutes later, the two pulled up and she hopped on and off they went.

I was terrified when she was gone, and I was sure she would drown with that teenage boy. Fifteen minutes passed by and she returned, no worse for the wear. This experience felt like a final journey for my family. My daughter’s Jet Ski ride seemed like a metaphor.

Sadly, she leaves for college very soon. I can only hope and pray she is mature enough to avoid Nimrods at all costs.

— Special to the Telegram

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