Pam Pardy-Ghent: Kickin’ It Ol’ School

Tenting. We did it growing up, though I can’t remember ever really roughin’ it because we had to. Back in the day, we had a pretty modern-by-salt-box-standards home in my dad’s old outport. When we didn’t own our own spot, we stayed in my grandmother’s home or slept on the wharf in a trailer or, in later years, the family’s Winnebago. 

There was also a rough-around-the-edges cabin owned by dad’s kin. It was in a spot known as Yellow Cove – or Ya-lee Cove as the bay-folk called it – within a stone’s throw of some long ago resettled communities on the south coast. 

There were comfy beds there, plus a ghost and a bear or two. A river ran nearby for hygienic matters and there was a place to go potty that had a door and a hole in the floor. No one fussed much over any of it. You held your business at night – see ghost and bear points – and outhouse use by day ain’t that terrible. 

I always discovered a fresh pack of jams jams on each island visit, so it wasn’t all bad. 

Crib & sociables

In dad’s moose hunting turf in Glenwood there was a trailer my folks left there year round. It was near a stream so freshening up was, how shall I put it, refreshing? But that was more choice than need as a flick of the switch brought heat if the need arose, though we all somehow knew to save the lion’s share of the warmth for mudder. While the three-pees-to-a-flush-rule always weirded me out, we always had fun there.

Then there was the cabin on the lake. At first it was simply a quaint spot  where you’d boil rain water from a barrel to bathe. After us kids left home, it transformed into an a-framed luxury villa where jumbo-sized solar panels warmed everything but the coldest of hearts. Television. Washer and dryer. Kick-arse of a soaker tub. Times were hard, by’s once the five kiddie-bills stopped flowing to mommy and daddy.

The only tenting I really remember growing up was when dad and mom and their pals wanted us five barely seen let alone heard. We’d pull up in Terra Nova or somewhere near the Humber River or even in some gravel pit, and, once the Winnebago was set up for some adult fun – crib and sociables mostly – dad would gleefully pop up a spot for us youngsters. So, we kids hung out in the tent – or didn’t. 

Forage & frolic

Mostly, we were on the go like wild animals left on our own to forage and frolic. The tent was only a spot to go if it rained and we needed a dry spot to plan our next adventure. And the trailer? That was a last resort, a place you ran to if you were hiding from a sibling hell-bent on murder or, if you were lucky, to delay a maiming. Memories are short when you’re a kid, and before long we’d all be out and about again before crashing for the night in the tent, falling asleep to the soothing sounds coming from the toasty camper near-by; fifteen-two, fifteen-four, a pair is eight  

My own kids have had all kinds of experiences. We’ve had homes around the bay and stayed in many a cabin across the island. We’ve had a camper set up at Marine Park in Pouch Cove for years now and can’t wait to wake up Yogi Bear and kick this year’s season off right. 

But tenting? It’s been a while. The last time we pitched a tent I’d say my youngest was three. I remember groaning and creaking as I pulled myself off the ground – ok, off the air-mattress that was on the ground – to crawl outside before wandering to the outhouse at 5 am. Perhaps I was too old for ground-dwelling, I declared, so we stuck to glamping after that. But, as my daughter gets older she’s forgotten those early tenting experiences and she wants to give it another go. ‘‘It’ll be fun,” she says. ‘‘Come on.’’ 

Perhaps she’s right. Maybe it is time to kick it ol’ school, try roughin’ it and step outside the air-conditioned camper with the million-channel satellite and pitch a tent.  What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll bring the jam jams.

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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