We purchased our 72 Wigwam (19 feet long) in April 2009 and made reservations immediately for the 4th of July weekend as we knew without a deadline, we would never finish our restoration. This was to be our first camping trip together as a family, a family of 6. After 3 1/2 months of constant work, we pulled the Wigwam to a nearby campground to give her a try.
We set up camp and made a list of essentials needed. My husband ran to the store and the kids and I pulled out the new rug and chairs and unrolled the new awning. Within minutes, a huge gray cloud formed over the lake only 50 feet away, nothing between our 19 feet of shelter and a very violent summer storm. Our awning blew up like a hot air balloon and we quickly jump to pull it in. As soon as we got out the chairs they began blowing across the camp site. The rain began to fall fast and heavy so we ran in the Wigwam. The rain picked up force and the wind was so violent it was rocking the little camper…. The kids and I clustered on the floor and the little ones began crying.
Then it happened, lighting struck twice and hit the tree directly outside the door, the kids screamed, and the bark flew and stuck to the outside of the Wigwam. A limb broke free of the tree and fell on the Wigwam just enough to cause some sort of damage on the roof because water began pouring in around the stove vent. All the kids became really upset, “I hate this camper” “I want to go home”. We pulled out anything that would hold water to try to keep it off the floor, but the bowls were filling up faster than we could move them. As fast as it had begun, it was over, but water was still pouring in and now I was crying as well..I went outside to check the damage before letting the kids out just as my husband drove up. He quickly got to work checking the roof. The extent of damage was a loosened antenna which allowed all the water accumulated on the roof to funnel down.
And then something wonderful happened. We worked together to get it fixed. Strangers came out to check on us and make sure we were all fine and offered help. Within an hour the mess was up and the hole patched. We started a fire, cooked outdoors and made smores withour children. We laughed, played board games, cards, and then got ready for bed where we laughed in the dark and slept within feet of each other. We did more together in a mire 19 feet than we ever did in our four bedroom home. We were a family for the first time in years and had been bitten by the camping bug. We learned, even after the problems, why people love camping. We relaxed and enjoyed each others company. The kids made “camping friends”, they played outside, and they got dirty. We will always remember our first horrible trip that became one of the best times we spent together as a family, and continue to do at least once a month.
Submitted by Melissa Dudoussat of Patterson, LA as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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