Leslie’s Camping Fiasco Meets The Monday Poems

Monday PoemsIf you were here last Friday, I dedicated my post to camping and reviewed the book, A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen. As promised, I challenged myself to write a poem about camping, specifically MY camping experiences. Or, as I like to call them Camping fiascos #1, #2, and #3.

For my inspiration, I turned to the well-known Christmas story/poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas, better known as Twas the Night Before Christmas.

photo of wet brown grizzly bear sitting

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com


Twas the night of the campout when all through the wood,

every creature was stirring as loud as they could.

While I gathered some logs and a pile of dry sticks,

a crack, somewhat near, had my eyes playing tricks.

I spotted a bear that, no doubt, wanted honey.

But when I looked twice, it was just a large bunny.

I built a fine fire and toasted a treat–

a marshmallow snack that burned up in the heat.

The air hung quite heavy with smells of sweet pine,

while insects swarmed near in a targeted line.

They dove at me fast! It was all I could do…

to keep them away—I tugged off my left shoe.

I ticked off the bugs as I flailed quite a lot.

With a stinger, yards long, one injected a shot!

Into my tent, I flew in a hurry,

zipped up the flap with an itch and a worry.

What if at night, late, at quarter to three,

I had to crawl out there in order to pee!

Could this trip get much worse? I did not want to know.

I was leaving tomorrow at the first morning’s glow.

The chirp of the crickets sure drove me insane.

But worse still, by far, was the torrential rain!

When the tent sagged with water, you guessed it, I freaked!

Not ten seconds later, plip-plop, how it leaked!

“I’m leaving right now!” I started to vent.

If the bears need a change, they can snooze in this tent.

by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman


Thoughts, comments, and camping memories (good, crazy, funny, or otherwise) are always welcomed in the comments.

See you next Friday.


We’re Roughing it this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I love taking walks out in nature, breathing in fresh air, listening to the musical symphony of the birds and insects, hugging a tree or two, spreading out a blanket to enjoy a picnic beside in a serene setting. I’m there! But pitch a tent, hand me a sleeping bag, and tell me that these are my accommodations for the night, and you’ll see me run like I’ve got a crocodile snapping at my heels. According to the dictionary, accommodations means something that meets a need; a convenience.  Let’s take a look at Leslie’s List of Basic Needs.

  • A comfortable bed at least one foot above the ground (higher is, of course, appreciated).
  • One deep pillow and a soft, quiet blanket.
  • Real walls that don’t flap.
  • A window with a screen to keep out bugs.
  • A door that locks with a latch or key and NOT with a zipper.
  • A sink with clean, drinkable, running water.
  • A genuine toilet – NOT an outhouse or a bucket.
  • An outlet (This is a big one) to plug in my hairdryer.

I could go on, but to any hardcore campers out there, I probably sound like a princess.
No apologies. This is who I am.

Yes, I have been camping. Twice officially, and one time that probably doesn’t count. More on that later.

Camping fiasco #1 My sleeping bag fell in a stream and bloated up with smelly water. With nothing to sleep on, I sat up all night. The evening brought a thunderstorm. Rain pelted. The tent sprung a leak JUST over my sleeping bag but not over the sleeping bags of my two tentmates.

Camping fiasco #2  I slept in the family car with my dad and sister. Due to my father’s long legs, we kept the back hatch down so he could stretch out, and the mosquitos could fly in with easy access to the all-night ‘Leslie Buffet.’ In the morning, I sported what looked like the plague. People kept their distance.

Camping fiasco #3 (The third unofficial camping trip.) I slept in a cabin–a seriously rustic cabin–that provided a sink barely big enough to wash one hand in at a time, a filthy mirror, cracked cement floors, and a sagging mattress (more of a hammock, really). Forget what I said earlier, I’m totally counting this one as a camping experience.

All of these fond memories bring me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of a camping story that takes place, not in a tent or cabin, but in a camper trailer. Hang on to your seats, you’re in for a rollicking adventure with Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee!

Title – A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

Written and illustrated by  – Chris Van Dusen

Published  – Chronicle Books – 2003

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8. Scratch that. This book is suitable for all ages.

Topics – Camping, stories in rhyme, bears, sticky situations.

Opening – Early one morning at 7:03,

Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee,

packed up the camper and hitched up the load,

hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road.

They drove to the mountains, far from the sea,

for two nights of camping (or possibly three).

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when along comes a lumbering, marshmallow-loving bear and the excitement begins. The next thing the two campers know, they are plunging down a mountain, racing down a river, and teetering on the edge of a waterfall! How will Mr. Magee and Dee find their way out of this slippery situation?

Why do I like this book? Without a doubt, if anyone can make a camping story, even one wrought with hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat action, sound like a must-do outing, it’s Chris Van Dusen. You’ll come across situations in this story you’ll swear no one could escape from or survive. But, with his brilliant imagination and true-blue gift for storytelling as well as his detail-rich, color-filled, high-energy illustrations, Mr. Van Dusen gets Mr. Magee and his little dog out of some pretty crazy scrapes. It’s what I call magical!

Want to learn a little more about Chris Van Dusen? Click HERE.

ACTIVITY TIME  – How to have some camping fun indoors.

  • Clear some space in your living room to pitch a tent.
  • No tent? No problem! String up some strands of twinkle lights, spread out your blankets or sleeping bags, and pretend you’re lying under the glow of a million shimmering stars. Of course, you could make a cozy blanket tent with chairs, too.
  • Pull on your PJs.
  • Grab a flashlight, dim the room lights, and tell ghost stories (or jokes).
  • Broil or boil up hot dogs.
  • And for the vegetarians… make veggie burgers!
  • Make S’mores for dessert.
  • Campfire? Gotta have one. Pile up a few small logs or empty paper towel rolls, and use red and yellow tissue paper for the flames. Add a glow from below with battery-operated tea lights.

The perks? Oh, yes! Indoor camping’s got ’em!

Walls that don’t flap, doors that lock, outlets, no bugs, and indoor plumbing.

Need more ideas?

  • Everything you need to have an indoor camping party HERE.
  • 20 imaginative camp-perfect crafts for kids HERE.

I hope you’ll stop back on Monday to read my poem about… Camping!

See you then!


Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

The mere mention of camping and my skin crawls with the invisible legs of a million non-existent insects. I cringe at the thought of sleeping in a tent or any structure with walls that aren’t a few inches thick and that doesn’t have a door with a lock. And sleeping in a zippered bag on the ground…sorry, not happening.

Yes. I have experienced camping. The first time was back in Jr. high during a freak thunderstorm. Strangely, only my side of the tent lacked waterproofing. So, while my tent mates lay snoozing, I sat up all night, hovering my jacket over my head like a useless umbrella. A few years later, another camping trip came up at school. This time, parents were invited, and everyone was expected to bring a tent or a camper (if they had one). My family had neither, so we broke camp in our jeep. At bedtime, my sister claimed the front seat, and I slept in the back with my dad with the hatch open to accommodate his long legs. The next morning, I counted over 60 mosquito bites. No, not on all three of us. Just scattered over me like a blast of confetti on New Year’s Eve. Then, years and years later, my husband found a place to camp where we could stay in a rustic cabin. Hmmm. A real bed, sturdy walls, and a door that locks, you say? Yes! I can do this.

“Wait. You’re saying rustic means no place to plug in my hairdryer???”

Honestly, I’ve tried to love camping, and I understand the lure of sleeping in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, but after several tries, I’ve concluded that the most ideal way for me to camp is in a hotel (in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature).

“Room service? Could you please send a bowl of strawberries and cream up to room #349? Thank you.”

Now that I’ve aired my feelings about camping with you, I am thrilled to share a picture book that stars a squirrel who feels very much as I do about this well-loved, outdoor activity.  Please welcome, Scaredy Squirrel!

Title – Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

Written and illustrated by  – Melanie Watts

Published by – Kids Can Press – 2013

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Camping, expectations, fears, conquering fears.

Opening – Scaredy Squirrel never goes camping. He’d rather be comfortable inside than risk going out in the rugged wilderness. Besides, setting up camp seems like a lot of trouble.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Scaredy Squirrel is not too comfortable with the idea of camping … unless it’s on his couch! There will be no mosquitoes, skunks or zippers to worry about when he watches a show about the joys of camping on his brand-new TV. But first Scaredy must find an electrical outlet, and that means going into the woods! Will the nutty worrywart’s plans prepare him for the great outdoors, or will his adventure end up as a scary story told around the campfire?

Why do I like this book? Scaredy Squirrel is nervous about this new experience of camping. In fact, he’s so afraid, he brings along a television with plans of watching nature from the safety of his tree. But, one small problem surfaces… In nature, there aren’t any outlets. (Sound like someone you know?) After packing his survival supplies and getting into his protective, wilderness outfit, he treks out to the camping grounds in search of an outlet. armed with all his protective gear, supplies, plans, and maps – he goes on a trek to the nearby camping ground to find electrical outlets. As luck would have it, something unexpected happens. You’ll have to check out this book to find out what. With simple, adorable, and humorous illustrations, this Scaredy Squirrel book is a cover to cover winner! 

Want to learn a little more about Melanie Watt? Click HERE.