The campsite. Note the small "adult" tent that was pitched under this shelter.
The view from our campsite when we awoke in the morning. The mist in the center of the picture is from the nearby waterfall.
"Native" Jeremiah, barefoot as usual, trying his hand at trout fishing.
A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and his entire dorm of sixteen young adolescent males went camping in one of Kenya’s national parks, the Aberdares, a central mountain range about 100 km north of Nairobi, rife with huge waterfalls, forest elephants, rainbow trout, and…rain (the entire water supply of central Kenya comes from this region). The chaperones? Jeremiah’s “dorm dad” (Rodney) and his “genetic dad” (me). After driving 3 hours on slippery dirt roads, stuffed into our “new” used Toyota Regius Ace with 10 somewhat stinky boys, Jeremiah riding shotgun, we arrived at our site and set up camp in the dark. Soon, the sloppy joe meat pot was steaming over the fire, and we settled in for the evening. Rodney and I had no shame in setting up our tent under the makeshift tarp shelter we erected. I found out later why this was such a solid move.
The following morning, while I was cooking breakfast, Jeremiah and about 6 of his buddies emerged from their tents wearing only homemade loin cloths, saying they wanted to “go native” and “blend in” with the environment (which I can assure you did not happen). Aside from this unwanted sight, (which reminded me of a scene from the movie “Lord of the Flies”), the morning was incredibly scenic; and, viewing the surroundings for the first time, I understood why some people call this area the most beautiful part of Kenya. Later, Rodney, an avid outdoorsman, set us all up for fly fishing in the mountain brooks that flowed nearby.
About 1pm, it began to precipitate. At first, this was a novelty for the boys, who were running about, getting pelted with the falling rain and hail, not thinking about how cold they could potentially be in the very near future without dry clothes or a roaring campfire. After a solid two hours and 3 inches of rain, however, the fun was over, and our campsite, including “the adult tent,” was beginning to flood. The majority of the boys took shelter in our van, which was only somewhat dry. We literally built a dike around our tent and dug drainage ditches to protect our only remaining precious resource: dry clothes. The rains let up around 4pm…for about a half hour. It then continued into the evening, and thus we decided to “turn in” early (which for the boys was about 1am). Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up, noticed that the rain had ended, and looked out the widow of the tent to see the “southern cross” surrounded by the starriest night I have ever witnessed.
The next morning was cloudless, and when the sun edged over the mountains, our campsite began to dry out. After breakfast, Rodney led the boys in a discussion on a Christian view of relationships with the opposite sex, specifically how this relates to the new dating policies at Rift Valley Academy. As I sat listening to these boys share their collective thoughts on the subject (actually with more wisdom than I anticipated), I thought to myself, “Here is an incredible group of young men, missionary kids, each with a unique story of how God got them to this place at this time in life.” And I wondered what each of them would become in the future, products of the rich lives they have been privileged to live.
After one more round of fly fishing, we broke camp and headed home. When I arrived back at Tenwek later that evening, I took a long and very hot shower, amazed at how thankful I could be for something we so easily take for granted. It was a great weekend. Next camping trip in the works: the Suswa caves.