So I survived my first real camping trip (see my camping must haves). No showers, no portable toilet, no internet (well I still had my iPhone). It was amazing, and I'm already excited to go with this group again next year. We set up camp along a riverbank on state land about an hour north of Grand Rapids, MI. When we arrived, we immediately set to work putting up the tent. The sun was intense and after quite a bit of confusion due to the "simple" directions and randomly labeled tent poles, we managed to put the tent up. Sweaty, sticky and slightly irritated we headed down to the river to cool off.

On day two, I had settled down for a much needed nap, having not slept well the night before due to the constant popping of the rain on the tent. I woke up just in time for more familiar popping. This however, quickly turned into a deluge. As the rain pounded, the wind leaned heavily on the trees and thunder hit so close that I swear the trees around us were getting hit. And I was alone. As far as I knew, the others, including my beloved husband, were sitting under tarp city or had gone into the river. My heart was seriously racing as I imagined flash floods and fallen trees, when Mike finally appeared outside the tent window (above right) wearing a rain poncho but still soaked to the skin. I admitted to him that I was scared and he just laughed. My sister in law Kristin appeared in the window then and dressed only on her swimsuit told me to get my suit on and join them outside. So I did. The rain continued on and off for another few hours but stopped in time for us to spend the afternoon in the river, the only casualties suffered were tarp city, the pile of beer cans along the river bank (which we later retrieved), and a couple of leaky tents.

We did a community meal system. Each couple or group was responsible for providing breakfast or dinner for the entire group (17+) on one day of the trip. For example, we made campfire chili on Thursday evening so were able to partake in the meals everyone else made. It's a sweet deal which minimizes extra work cooking for yourselves for every meal and minimizes the amount of food that needs to be kept on ice.

Every day, the men would go out and retrieve fire wood. They sought out dead or fallen trees and chainsawed them or went full out with an ax. I never saw it, though I did hear some yelling, falling trees and the many blisters on Mike's hands to prove it.

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