Snakes Alive!

As you know, my grandparents raised me.  Grandma didn’t drive, and Granddaddy worked out of state during the summers.  So, I never went on any family vacations.  Ever.  Okay, we went to a hotel at the beach an hour away and spent a single night on two separate occasions.  And we went to visit Grandma’s family at their house in a small town a few hours away where there was nothing to do and no one to play with.

So, quite frequently, friends and neighbors felt bad for me and tried to include me in on their families’ vacation plans.  But Grandma wouldn’t hear of it.  She didn’t want me “bothering” them.  She was always so worried about what everyone else thought of her that she never cared what I thought.  As for me, I just wanted to go somewhere and be with kids.

The summer I was nine, my best friend, Beth, and her family were going camping and then to Busch Gardens the following day.  They asked if I could go, and of course, Grandma said, “No.”  That is, until Beth’s dad asked her.  As much a she liked to negate any of my plans, she wouldn’t say no to a man.  (I realize that sounds pretty bad, but I don’t mean it that way!)  She grew up in a generation where a woman deferred to the man’s opinion, whether she liked it or not.  I didn’t care why.  I was just glad to get to go!

We camped at some state park, I guess.  It was mostly woods, but it did have an outhouse as opposed to us having to relieve ourselves out in the open.  Beth, her older sister Lori, Lori’s friend, their parents, and I all slept in the same tent.  Her mom packed “Frito Pie” (chili lined with Fritos) which she heated over the campfire for dinner.  And Beth and I played in the hundreds of palmetto bushes that surrounded our campsite… until her dad told us those bushes were “snake heaven.”  We played inside the tent and in the car after that!

That was my only experience camping in the great outdoors.  Unless you count when I got older and got locked out of my house when I stayed out too late, but that’s a different story.

Coming next month is another session of Camp NaNoWriMo.  Now, I obviously understand this is a virtual camp, and I won’t have to fear any snakes other than the ones that live in my own yard (such as this red corn snake that was parked up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago and now lives in the backyard along with a black snake that’s slightly bigger than him.)  At least I’m not nearly as scared of snakes now as I was when I was little, thankfully.

So, what I need to know from you, fellow writers, is how does this work exactly?  I’ve read the website, but I’m still at a loss.  I know the goal is to write 50,000 words, but I don’t understand what else is involved.  I mean, I can do that without registering anywhere, so what’s the point?  What’s the deal with the “cabin assignments” etc.  Is the whole purpose to socialize with other writers?  And if so, how often do you have to “check in”?  What am I missing?

I know that this should probably not be such a source of distress, but I have so many unanswered questions, that I can’t fully submerge until I know the answers.  Do any of you participate in this?  If so, do you have any suggestions or advice?

Thank you, friends!

Have you ever really been camping?  Were you in a camper, a cabin, or a tent?  What was the thing you loved the most or like the least about it?  Do snakes bother you?

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46 thoughts on “Snakes Alive!

  1. I have absolutely NO experience with Camp NaNoWriMo, so I can’t help there. I’ve gone camping with my church at a lake, which was fun, except that the water was freezing because it was in fall, so we didn’t do much swimming. We did get to go on a boat, which was fun. 🙂

  2. Hi rachel, we don’t see any snakes in the uk unless you go to the right spots to see them in the wild. The only poisoness snake in the uk is the adder not not fatal if biitten by one. Camping in the uk is pretty much hassle free with regards to predators. I myself photograph snakes in the wild and I also have a cornsnake as a pet, they are fascinating shy and not aggressive unless provoked.
    As a child i would imagine it was a bit scary seeing your first snake, nice storey thanks for sharing.

  3. I’ve never done CampNaNo (it sounds very fun, but pretty exhausting!), so unfortunately can’t help with how it works. Good luck with it if you enter though, I know there are quite a few bloggers trying out again this year 🙂

  4. I do not camp now. I did not camp then. I used to say my idea of roughing it is to rent a motel room with a remote for the TV. Then it was without WiFi. Nowadays I even have a hotspot to defeat that fear …

    I am not signed up for the blogging alphabet-arama, Rachel. I don’t want to have to count my words to see if I hit that limit, though I indeed may. If you do like the answers you get, and sign up, I hope I don’t get blocked out and can still read your work!

  5. Camped once – late teens – hated every minute of it. I truly cannot see why any person would wish to camp. It leaves me bemused. Don’t go Rachel – send you old Gran instead.

  6. I don’t know about the camp, but I’ve camped about every way you can think of, from just rolling out a bed roll to sleeping in a camp trailer. Snakes aren’t a big problem here in the Rockys, but like you I grew up in FL and GA, so I got in the habit of looking down. I think if I was going to write 50,000 words I’d channel that motivation into something that had a paycheck involved.

    • LOL! The 50,000 words don’t bother me. I can usually write that much in a month anyway, unless I have other things going on. But if I have to check in and socialize during that time, I doubt I could make it. 🙂

  7. I’ve camped every way you can imagine. Blanket in the dirt, tents, campers, back of the truck, everything. We started camping in April with snow on the ground, and usually didn’t stop until November, with snow on the ground. I love it, but don’t get nearly as much as I’d like these days.

  8. Camped in cabins and tents as an adult, in cabins at a “church camp: as a child a few different summers. Loved it…all but one incident- okay no all but 2 incidents.
    First one was while a bunch of us were on the way to the latrine going on a path through the woods. We were hurrying to beat lightning from striking us dead. When about 15 yards ahead of me a big ass snake flies off the high side and strikes a girl. Now I don’t know whether it clenched on or got stuck or what but she swung in a circle. Seeing this freaking terrified me. Apparently it was not poisonous as she did have to go to the hospital but we were told it was a precaution. I saw this in my dreams for years. (And I hope my writing this doesn’t refresh that.) Now it should be noted that I still camped and hiked in the woods. (We were told it was a fluke experience that the snake was probably scurrying on its way and hadn’t dove for her but rather crashed into her and just bit as its natural defense. Sounded good to me. I wanted to believe that- not sure whether or not I did- but was going to seem like I believed it and hoped I’d be convinced eventually
    Second unpleasant incident could actually have been bad but ended up being just a lesson. We were all swimming in the “creek”, a large creek, small river thing, at church camp again. We were having a blast except for the fact that the cutest boy in our group was not swimming with us that day Still we had fun as will a group of kids. I don’t know how old I was other than I am pretty sure I was under 12 yrs. It came time to get out. Now creek water is cold (fast moving creek due to plenty of rain that month). and it was cloudy with a strong breeze, more like whips of wind as another storm was approaching so we dashed to our towels and coverups (in my case a very big shirt. Now not being a particularly organized child my stuff was waiting for me in clumps, not in a spread out fashion. As I grab my towel shaking it open as I am putting it on, I see something falling out and figure its dirt from laying on the ground with towel draped on me dripping wet I reach for my big shirt and as I pull it up I see a bunch , to me a disgusting bunch of baby snakes falling out and slipping into the long sleeves. There was no need to alert the other campers as the girls next to me screamed in pitches higher and louder than I would ever hear- , until I heard my own children scream a lifetime later. I would have screamed because I was horrified, but I was too busy realizing I felt one from my towel on my back and was busy with throwing off the towel, thankfully complete with the snakes (yes more than one there too.) These were rattlesnakes and while we couldn’t see it mama snake could be heard in the bushes nearby. We all left more than hurredly. My towel and shirt stayed right there- no way was I going to pick them up after snakes with their snakiness were on them. We ran our butts off running back to our cabins.. I was SO freaked out!! Yes I did go to camp the next year. Where we camped in a big ole tent atop of army type cots on a wooden platform, Oddly enough no snake events there.
    Perhaps the freakiest incident was when my mom and I were picking grapes from the grape vine in our backyard. It was hot and dry -drought that year. I had one thing to do…hold the giant pot for mom to toss in the grapes. While mom was recalling memories of times gone by and I am just looking all around thinking about doing anything other than this… I look down and see a rattlesnake crossing over mom’s foot. I am totally freaked out. I’d like to say that I didn’t want to alarm her and cause her to move suddenly settling off the snake to bite, but it was more that terror had frozen my vocal cors and apparently not my arms or legs as I threw the pot and ran as fast as I could to the house to get my big brother.lol Shovel patrol- when it was someone’s task to behead the snake and toss it away…somewhere- never wondered where it now. Of course when I got in the house my sister asked me what was wrong and being a kid scared out of my shoes (okay the shoes were on), I can’t speak and by now am panicked that I left my mom out there with it. She yells for my brother and they go out. Now mom was still there picking grapes and livid that I threw the pot and ran. She starts in on me about being more responsible that there’s no reason to dash off like that to go to the bathroom or to do anything. All I managed to get out was ” snake” as I ran to shed to get shovel. Talk about back yard charades. I ran back into house after feeling like I fulfilled my obligation of handling the situation…hahahaha. Eventually they came in and got the story. Of course the snake was long gone by the time my brother went out. They told me that he found it and got rid of it- but I am pretty certain they were just trying to make me feel safe in the yard again.
    There have been other incidences over the years but these are what stand out in my mind. lol WOw when I dust off the cobwebs ,it’s amazing what’s still in there.

      • Yepit creeped me out more than I can describe- still makes my heart pound when I think of it. ( Hope that counts as aerobics for today.lol) FOr me I guess the one that left me haunted was the one with my mom. You know when you hear some incredible story of someone’s unselfish act of heroism? Well this was the opposite. This was out and out cowardice and panic. It took me a long time to get over that part of it. When people say ,: Well you have to wonder if you would have it in you to do such a thing as cast yourself in danger to save someon by thrusting yourself into the danger without hesitation.” Well I felt I knew from that experience. Yes I was a child but it made it something that I had wondered about ever since. As a nurse I found that I have been able to keep a cool head and do what needs to be done to save someone. I guess we don’t know until that moment before us. I pray if ever confronted with such a decision that I quickly rise to the occatson..

  9. Ooh, I’m a WriMo, and I’ve done Camp, too! Let me see if I can clear up the process a little for you.

    First, for Camp, you don’t have to write 50,000. Camp NaNoWriMo is the laid back big brother of NaNoWriMo (which is in November). *You* choose what you want your goal to be for Camp – if you’re happy with 50,000 that’s fine. Maybe you want to finish the second half of your novel, so you only need 30,000. Or you want to shoot for the moon and want to do 80,000 – those are all valid choices. It’s up to you. That’s why I think Camp is a good place for beginners to start – less stress, I think.

    As for the cabins – they’re more of the social aspect. You have cabin mates who have their own word goals to fulfill, and they can be a source of inspiration, encouragement or help. Or, they might never log on during the entire event (I had two of those last Camp). You don’t have to socialize if you don’t want to, but you’ll lose out on a little bit of the magic. It’s nice to have a group of people encouraging each other and helping you stay accountable with your goals. It’s basically a virtual writers support group. I want to someday have enough friends to fill up a cabin with people I actually know, rather than strangers. But that’s just me. As for how often you check in, that’s up to you. Last Camp I checked in about twice a week to update my word count and to throw in an encouraging comment on the cabin message board.

    Now, you might be thinking ‘I don’t care about the social aspect. Why would I want to sign up for Camp when I can track my word count on my own?’ Well, for one thing – there are prizes. They vary from contests, free books (your own or others), discounts on writing software, etc. Many of them you qualify for just by meeting your goal. If you aren’t interested in any of the prizes, there is also the emotional benefit. The Camp leaders will send out weekly pep talks to keep you motivated, and you might even get a personal email from your area representative telling you what a great job you’re doing. (They can see the word count, that’s all. But it gave me a giddy feeling all the same.) Then, when you reach your goal you get all sorts of virtual fireworks! Banners, blinking messages, congratulations – there’s nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you get recognized for accomplishing something. Then there’s my personal motivation. When I get that congratulations message, I look down and realize: I just wrote a book. That is *my* book, my dream ever since I was in middle school. I am living my dream – and there is nothing that can compare to that.

    If you have any other questions about how Camp Nano works, or about the main NaNoWriMo event, please let me know! I’ll do whatever I can to help. 🙂

    • Oh, wow, that does sound like fun! I’m still not positive whether or not that I want to do it this time. I’m in the middle of editing and don’t know that I want to stop that to start writing yet, but I definitely want to do it in November. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain things. You did such a better job than what’s on the website! 😀 I appreciate your time so much! ❤

  10. I’ve never participated in Camp Nanowrimo and will consider it in the future when I have the time, but real camping–yes I have when I was a child. It was in the Colorado mountains and was part of a class trip. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we didn’t stay in tents, but in a lodge. The one thing I remember was after a nighttime campfire, each student had to follow a trail back to the lodge one by one–in the complete dark. I don’t know if that was a good idea or even safe to let a lot of children do this, but most of us ended up waiting for another before we made it far in the trail, so that we wouldn’t have to walk back alone. One girl we met on the trail said she thinks she saw something that looked like a deer while she was walking. I will never know, however the trail was scary so after hearing her story, we (3 of us) ended up running back to the lodge in the dark.

  11. Oh my! I hate snakes soooo much! In fact the photo of them made me shiver from head to toe! 😦 Camping? Growing up we used to camp all. the. time. And I LOVED it! 🙂 I’m almost as excited to “camp” during Camp NaNo next month. I’ve participated in NaNo the past two years but this will be my first Camp NaNo so I’m flying blind right beside you. Unlike the 50,000 words in November, I’ve set my goal at 31,000 for next month, (1,000/day) knowing I’m having a lot of out-of-state company for a week for my son’s wedding. I’m thrilled you’re contemplating Camp NaNo. 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m still not positive yet about next month because of all I’ve got going on, but I definitely want to participate in November. Good luck to you too, for NaNo as well as your son’s wedding! 😀

  12. We did several years of camping in the Upper Peninsula and in Minnesota when I was middle-school age. Actually, the camping was my father’s fishing trips that the rest of the family tagged along. One year Father set a line and went to take a nap in the tent, and when I heard the pole start dragging along the bottom of the boat, I ran, screaming, to the boat and caught the end of the pole just before it went over the side. By that time, my younger sister had arrived at the lake shore, and together we landed a muskie or northern pike (I can’t remember which) that was as long as my sister was tall. Another year, I was the only one who caught any fish.

  13. Now – about Camp NaNoWriMo. Unlike November, 50K words is just a suggested goal, for Camp. You can make your own goals and your own rules for what you write. You don’t have to sign in to a cabin, if you’re not feeling talkative. There’s no pressure at all, unless you feel like the pep talks that are delivered to your WriMoMail are naggy. But they do offer incentive prizes for folks who “win.” I wasn’t going to NNWM this year, but if you’d like to meet up with somebody you “know,” I’ll do it. We can set up our own “cabin” and just growl at each other now and then, while we try to keep our focus on our WIPs.

  14. I’m glad you asked this question as I too was wondering how the camp worked. Side note- all those camping horror stories just confirmed what I’ve always believed; humans we never meant to go camping.

  15. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to get people into a routine of writing everyday. Part of your 50,000 can be the character’s profile’s, descriptions of scenes, just about anything – just write. I did it a long time ago, and at the end, if you make the goal and take the time to edit your work, you will be given an ISBN for your book, etc. I found it fun and then never did anything with it. But they’re a great bunch of people to deal with.

  16. I am a participant of both regular camping (I go four time a year to LARP events. Being in the UK means we don’t get snakes, but the weather can turn nasty!) and Camp NaNo.

    As other people have said, Camp is the laid back sibling of NaNoWriMo, so you can write whatever you want to, doesn’t even have to be a story, it can be flash fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Anything goes in camp! My plan is to edit the remainder of my novel which I wrote for proper NaNoWriMo last year. I have no idea what word count that is, so that will probably change during the month (Yes, you can change your goal!) but that’s the objective.

    Cabins are groups of up to 12 people, who cheer each other along and help each other out with motivation and questions. What I tend to do is have a couple of real world friends in there, and then the rest random people, because meeting other writers is awesome!
    If you want to add me as a friend on NaNo, feel free. My username is imaginary_world 🙂

    P.S. Here’s the link for the FAQs for Camp http://nanowrimo.uservoice.com/

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