The Dependable Pup Tent! If there’s a perfect name for our camping home, it was a pup tent! “Woody,” Dad explained, “A pup tent refers to a shelter that doesn’t have floors or windows. It’s also a tent we have to assemble, so let’s read the directions.” “Directions?” I barked! “We’re smart. We don’t need directions.” “Woody, this is our home for the next several days. I think we should read the directions and get it right. A survival rule is taking the time to do it right the first time.” Mom does always talk about the importance of reading and following directions. “Besides,” Dad continued, “I would hate for the tent to collapse while we were trying to sleep.”
Thanks to directions and teamwork, we had our home. “Let’s go fishing,” I suggested, grabbing my pole. “Not yet, son,” Dad answered. “We have to gather wood and kindling for a fire later.” “With the trees around us, that shouldn’t take long! Can I borrow your knife, Dad?” “We can’t cut off branches of a perfectly good tree,” Dad said, “It could destroy it. We also want to find wood away from the campsite so we won’t use up all that’s here. We need to respect the land and not use all its resources.” I hadn’t realized that. “Anyway, Woody, we all remember what happened the last time you borrowed a knife,” Chloe said, reminding me of the silly mistake that meant a trip to the vet last month.
“Dad,” I asked, “May Chloe and I walk down the hill and find firewood?” “Sure, but don’t get out of sight and stay together. Remember,” Dad instructed, “be respectful and don’t bother any rocks, animals or trees. This is their natural habitat and we have to value that.” Chloe and I promised to obey. As we went in search of firewood, we sang, “Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Can you... Chloe, why have you stopped singing? The part where we tie our ears in a knot is my favorite part!” “Woo-dy,” Chloe whispered, “Don’t move. There’s a snake in front of us.” I saw it! My heart began pounding out of my chest. I didn’t want Chloe to know how scared I was! I was the brother, the protector. Even though I was scared, I was determined to play it cool. “Don’t worry, Chloe. I’ll protect you,” I said, sounding cool as a cucumber. “Thanks Woody. I read in my camping book that snakes are more scared of people than we are than them. Besides, I can tell by looking at it that it’s not venomous. It is all one color and it has a spoon shaped head, not a flat head. It shouldn’t bother us, but I still have the willies! Let’s quietly leave.” That was the best idea I’d heard. To be honest, it didn’t matter to me if it was venomous or not. And how did the book know the snake was more afraid than we were? Did the author interview snakes? I hoped the snake didn’t know where our tent was pitched! Chloe and I left. Walking back to the tent, we found enough dead branches lying on the ground for kindling and were back at the camp within a short time. “Mom! Dad!” I barked when we arrived at the tent, “You’re never going to believe it. Chloe and I saw a huge snake. It was about 10 feet long and Chloe was scared to death. She was crying and growling and barking. I thought I was going to have to pick up the snake and move it myself.” “DOGWOOD!” Chloe responded! That didn’t happen. Woody, tell Mom and Dad the truth.” “Maybe the snake wasn’t 10 feet long,” I said, knowing it was wrong to fib. Chloe rolled her eyes and Mom and Dad laughed.
Once our tent was ready, firewood gathered and food put away, our parents explained fire safety. “Pups, campfires are fun, but they’re a big responsibility. We must keep the fire small and never leave it unattended. We also must have water with us at all times in case the fire gets out of control. ”
Once we understood the rules, we gathered around the fire and sang some more camp songs. I wanted to sing every verse of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” but my eyes were heavy. “Tomorrow’s a full day, pups. You two go to bed and Dad and I will stay up for a while to make sure the fire is completely out,” Mom instructed. I knew I would be asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Chloe and I walked in our pup tent and I pulled back my sleeping bag. “Mommm! Daaad! Help!”