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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: Campfire Blues
By Brenda Welc


Can opener. Ziplock baggies. Bug catching jar. Pillows. Extra blankets. I once again was packing for our yearly camping trip. I was check the camping checklist twice to make sure everything we could possibly need would be there when we needed it. One final glance at the perfectly pack van and start counting heads to make sure we are all ready to go. Our family has gone camping every year for the past fifteen years. My sonís first trip to the great outdoors was when he was 4 months old and this would be our first trip without him. It brings tears to my eyes even as I write this to think he has ďoutgrownĒ the family trip already. A job and birthday party plans for a friend kept him from attending this years trip. While the thirteen old girl is dancing around like a chicken with aspirations of being an only child for three days with her parents all to herself, mom is dreading the sad feelings which will arise as memories are made without the presence of a child.
We arrived at the camp site and began our usual routine of setting up. We are rustic campers so there is a lot of jobs which need to be completed before we can truly enjoy the outdoor atmosphere. Imagine the whining as the girl realized without the other sibling present, she was responsible for gather all the necessary wood for the evening fire, a job usually shared between her and her brother. As husband and I attempt putting up the tent without killing each other with frustrations, our daughter is already bored. We finish setting up camp and begin to prepare for the evening meal. As I gather all the ingredients for a fire prepared meal I began to remember the many times we were here before together as a family. The fun, the bug searching, the hikes in the woods and the overall general fascination with the woods.
I know my son wished he could have accompanied us on this camping trip but he struggles with keeping friendships alive and living for his own dreams. I knew this day would come, just not so soon. As I sat and stared at the same stars I used to share with my son, tears start to slide down my cheek. We prepare our children from the moment of understanding to be able to stand on their two feet knowing we as parents will have to trust God will hold their hand and lead them when we canít be there. It is so sad to think I have to begin to let go so soon. As we were preparing for sleep he called just to say he was home and fill me in with his plans for the next day. I couldnít let him know how much I missed him but I could sense in his voice he missed us too.
Camping was still fun this year. We still went for hikes. We swam in the same lake we always do. We sang the same campfire songs and ate smores and popped popcorn over the fire. Everything was in itís place except my son. I tried not to show how sad I was but sometimes emotion would overcome me and I would have to close my eyes and pray the sad feelings away. God would wrap me in a hug and whisper this was part of being a parent. The letting go, itís so sad. The knowing it was going to happen, is so sad. Someday Iíll just be packing for two Iím sure, but secretly I hope that day never comes.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/02/07
I like your beginning very much--the list of camping supplies in short, choppy fragments is an effective hook.

This could benefit from a closer read with an editing eye--there were a few mechanical errors that slightly detracted from the overall impact.

Tender and touching message, shared by all parents at one time or another. Nicely done.
Allison Egley 08/06/07
The beginning of this is great. The "shopping list" approach works well.

Next time, try putting an extra return between lines. It makes things easier to read.

I loved the overall message, and you captured the mother's feelings well.
Caitlynn Lowe08/08/07
A good description of how the mother felt. Nice job.
Sara Harricharan 08/08/07
That is sad. I could feel the mother's ache over the thought of one day packing just for two instead of her 'whole family'. Good job and nice title! ^_^
Joanne Sher 08/09/07
Great detail - and you certainly "pegged" the topic. :) I was a bit distracted by the characters not having names, but that could just be me. Nice writing!