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Judgement, Experience and Camping

August 6, 2018

Good judgement comes from experience
Experience comes from poor judgement

I went camping over the weekend, but this was not like my normal camping trips with the scouts. This was a “fathers and sons” campout organized by our the mens group in our church.

There were about 30-40 men and boys who made the trek out to Utah’s west desert. The direction were hand written, and then scanned and emailed, because we are a 21st Century people.

Drive 15.2 West from the Olive Garden restaurant in American Fork
Turn right, off the paved road and drive .9 miles
Turn left at the log cabin

It was accompanied by a hand drawn map, not to scale with a star located somewhere off to the south of the last road.

It turned out to be literally in the middle of a field. Or what would be a field if anyone had access to enough water to attempt to cultivate it.

No water

No facilities

We pulled our van up next to a tuft of desert grass and set up camp for me and four of my five sons. My boys have been camping for years. I told them to pack their gear themselves. One opted for a tent, two opted for cots under our picnic canopy and the fourth slept in his friends truck bed. I pitched a compact 1-man tent.

I had been given no assignments for this campout. The mens group leadership planned the entire thing. I brought a Campchef propane camping stove. . .and a few more things I thought we might need.

Water was a big one. Utah’s desert is. . .well, it’s a desert. My boys each brought their own water, of course. And I brought extra. They used the extra. I brought chili and hotdogs for dinner, because I had a been camping with boys in the past.

I also brought a Coleman gas lantern. There were no fires allowed in our bone dry landscape. Just because it’s a desert doesn’t mean there’s nothing to burn. It just means there’s not a lot of water to prevent the fires.

A Coleman lantern makes a nice warm yellow light. It’s double mantels give off enough heat that the lantern is a hazard to touch. Friday night, we had a fireside, a spiritually themed meeting that boys and their fathers can share under a brilliant night sky.

So, do you guys want to use my lantern as a ‘fake’ fire?

Yeah, that would be great.

There we sat, 40 of us in our camp chairs with my lantern placed in the center of the circle. I asked the organizer,

So, what’s the plan for breakfast in the morning?

Well, we want to eat at 7:00.

Do you want to use my stove and grill?

Oh? Yeah, actually, that would be great.

The following morning dawned as only a summer morning in the desert can. The smoke from the California wildfires gave the air a hazy picture.

I set up my stove and prepared to cook the bacon portion of our “bacon, eggs and pancakes” meal.

Oh. . .


I didn’t bring anything to mix the pancake batter in.

I have a pot I used to cook chili in, you could use that. Do you need the ladle too?

Ah. . .yeah, we do. Oh, shoot.

Now what?

I forgot butter to grease the pans.

Maybe we could put a couple of pieces of bacon on those other grills and use the bacon grease.

We had three stoves including mine. But, only mine had a two burner griddle. The other stoves were brand new, but had only a single burner griddle. It became obvious that to get the bacon, eggs and pancakes for 40 people done, we were going to need all our stoves, including mine.

I enjoy cooking bacon on these campouts. First, it’s hard to mess up. For example, if you cook pancakes, you need to get the temperature just right and worry about flipping them at the right time.

If you cook the eggs, you have to constantly be making sure they don’t run off the griddle and that you don’t cook them too long or not long enough.

But, bacon is easy. Set a low heat and keep moving the bacon around as it gives off the heavenly smells. I had suspected I might be asked to help out. I brought a number 10 can and piece of dental floss to “train” the grease from my griddle to the can on the ground. Four pounds of bacon will produce about 2 cups of grease. The gallon can I brought along had done duty to collect the bacon drippings previously.

Hey, that’s a pretty cool setup. The grease just runs down the string?

Yeah, otherwise the grease splatters.

You come pretty well prepared.

It’s from all the years leading boy scouts. . .and going camping with 13 kids. You learn to sort of prepare for anything.

We had one more crisis as we discovered that the plates were styrophome and the fresh bacon melted right through them.

Well, we can use the cardboard from one of those boxes as a makeshift plate.

Again, lots of practice at figuring out how to make do. Breakfast turned out great. There was plenty of food, and the boys got plenty to eat.

Rodney, do you want me to take over cooking the bacon so you can get some food?

No, that’s okay. If you cooked the bacon and are still hungry at the end, you didn’t do a very good job of cooking the bacon.

Like I said, I’ve had experience doing this before.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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