In June 2009, I decided to embark on a character growing experience that would give me the reward of volunteer hours and a few college credits. It was a fire safety science program called F.I.R.E Up for summer. I am not a science zealot; it is my least favorite subject. I was merely trying to get my credits over with. A three day camping trip was included in this three week program. In years previous this had taken place in the beautiful mountains of Idaho in scenic rural areas. The year I participated we had the misfortune of camping in the middle of Boise, in a suburban neighborhood called Harris Ranch. We were promised a gorgeous campsite next to the river. Instead we got a dam. Around the perimeter of our gated campground were power lines making a picturesque portrait next to the gushing water. I was convinced the dam was going to overflow because of the unlucky torrential rain storms and I would be electrocuted in my sleep. We were surrounded by houses that I knew housed people from school. Ironically this would be my first camping experience and I would have complete and total cell phone service. Plus it was only a twenty minute drive from my house. As we unloaded our bags, sleeping gear and equipment onto the muddy ground covered in grimy bugs I was in shock at our location. Between the chain-link fences, awkward rotting wooden wheel in the corner, the houses, and the dam; I was confused. As my audacious pink duffel back was tossed into the mud I realized this probably wasn’t a good idea.
With my best friend and several science loving girls, I got the pleasure of sleeping in a yurt. A yurt that reeked of stale cheetos, was covered in creepy earwigs, and had water seeping through. I wasn’t happy. During the trip, we were required to get out in the field and assess fire safety. This would’ve been more epic if we weren’t assessing the fire safety of Simplot’s soccer fields with grass as sparkling green as possible. While assessing the fire safety of grass areas that needed it, I was constantly afraid of being recognized. I’m a girl who wears flowers in my hair, glittery nail polish and dresses prettily. While roaming around, I was wearing a t-shirt, unflattering shorts, greasy hair, and flashy pink sunglasses to hide my make-up missing eyes. I was completely out of my comfort zone.
While we may have been “camping” it was bizarre that if we had to use the bathroom while out in the field, we just had to stop at the local Albertsons. It wasn’t exactly an adventure in the great outdoors, although there were memorable moments. Once when we were heading back to our campsite we saw a man darting across it. I was immediately excited by the prospect of him lighting our yurts on fire and razing everything, but the disappointment sunk in when he only stole food. One night we had a campfire where the lights flickering in the houses were brighter. Attempting to skip rocks across the dam was fun. I wasn’t sad when we tore down our yurts, packed our damp bags and were released to our homes. While I can’t say I necessarily had a fun time on this odd camping trip, I can say it was an experience. Life is about experiencing things that aren’t exactly what dreams are made of but create personal growth. I didn’t just learn about fire safety but that literally camping in someone’s backyard can be rewarding.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.