Saturday, June 23, 2007

Meet Rick Kaempfer

Come on out tonight to the Shore Magazine Summer Solstice at Custom Imports (17648 U.S. 12 in New Buffalo, MI). I'll be there enjoying the amazing food, sparkling beverages, piano music, and fire dancing. I'll also be autographing copies of my novel $everance, and saying hello to whoever wants to say hi. I promise I won't be wearing the trenchcoat.

For more information about this cool summer soiree (tickets are only $10), here

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Suburban Man: Camping

By Rick Kaempfer

How crazy is it that I went camping? When a friend of mine called me up the day before we left, and I told him where we were going, he laughed out loud, long and hard. When he finally finished laughing twenty to thirty seconds later, I let him know I wasn’t kidding.

“Did you suffer some sort of a head injury?” he asked.

That’s how crazy it was.

Camping is a combination all of the things I least enjoy in the world (insects, allergies, and manual labor) without any of the things I most enjoy in the world (television, air conditioning, and running water).

The idea of camping voluntarily was patently absurd. That’s probably why my wife Bridget knew she would have to do a heck of a sales job on me to get me to agree to go camping with the Cub Scouts.

“Some of the scout families are going camping next month,” she told me gingerly.

“That’s nice,” I said.

“They volunteered to lend us all the gear we’d need,” she added, “and they’ll even help us set it all up.”

That’s when I looked up at her. “Oh no”

“Don’t just say no,” she pleaded. “All of the families going on this trip are lots of fun, it’s only about an hour away, and it’s not an officially sanctioned Cub Scout event.”

That last part of her argument paused my “no” in mid-‘n’. “What does that mean exactly?”

“That means we can bring beer.”


I looked at her pleading expression and realized how important this must have been to even suggest such an outlandish concept to a man who once considered adding “indoorsman” to his business cards.

“OK,” I sighed. “What the heck, let’s give it a shot.”

And that first night of camping was great.

I got to know the other parents as we had a few beers by the campfire, and Bridget was absolutely right about them. They were a lot of fun. Nobody was judging my lack of skills around the campsite (Bridget must have thoroughly briefed them), and everybody was helpful and encouraging. I didn’t even mind sleeping in the tent that first night. I slept like a rock, and so did the rest of my family.

The next day, however, was a slightly different story.

When one of the other families suggested going on a hike through the woods first thing in the morning, I figured this was a good chance to prove my good attitude. I agreed.

The highlight of the hike was when Sean wandered into the long grass. When he came out, he was covered head to toe with ticks. The other parents helped me pick off each individual tick from the squirming 4-year old. That’s when we noticed that the rest of us (including two dogs) also had ticks on us.

That put a bit of a damper on the hike.

The good news was that we had at least done something productive with our day. I figured we could go back to camp, fix a late lunch, and then get ready for another fun night around the campfire. I don’t wear a watch, so I asked another dad what time it was.

“It’s 9:45.”

That’s 9:45 am.

It was too hot to take a nap, too early to have a beer, and too unfriendly to read a book, so I did my best to pass the time the rest of this 37-hour-day.

I picked ticks off people. I played games with the kids. I listened to the Cubs game on the radio…the entire game…all nine innings. And I kept waiting…waiting…waiting…for dinnertime/campfire/refreshments time.

That’s when it started pouring rain.

After the rain started, the temperature dropped thirty degrees or more. We needed the fire to stay warm, but if we sat by the fire we got soaked. So, we sat in our tents, snuggled in our sleeping bags, put on sweatshirts and long pants and knit caps, and went to sleep.

On the ride back home I asked the boys, who had been complaining about everything all weekend long, how they liked camping. I thought I had set this up perfectly. The boys would say they hated it, and I would get the credit for trying it without complaining. The boys apparently didn’t get the memo.

“It was great!” Tommy said.

“Loved it!” Johnny said.

“Can we do it again, Dad?” Sean asked.

Bridget just smiled.