Sleeping In Dirt

What happens when 15 “Pedro Boy” dads decide to take 25 of their kids to Catalina Island for a two-night camping trip without maternal supervision? This is what I’ve been allowed to write (the rest has been redacted).

The whole idea started sometime during the Eastview baseball season when Mike Harper and Zlatko Josic approached me about a camping trip they were planning. My initial reaction? My father didn’t escape communist Yugoslavia as a young teen and live in Italian refugee camps for four years so that he could come to America and have his family sleep in the dirt while on vacation.

They scratched me off the list and kept planning without me. However, I later heard them mention Catalina and my interest piqued. They went on to say this was luxury camping, the tents were pre-made with cots inside, the nearby small town of Twin Harbor was only a quarter mile away with hot showers, great bathroom facilities, and a pretty good restaurant. I was sold (not that I had a choice after my son Kyle heard that his baseball buddies, Nathan Harper and Robby and Cooper Josic, were going camping and he was invited).

Fifteen dads, 22 boys and three girls (my daughter Katija was one of the brave girls) boarded Catalina Express on an early Sunday morning boat to the island. We docked at 9 a.m. in Twin Harbor and the first thing we all noticed was a band already rocking it pretty good in the outdoor bar next to the restaurant (this is the part of the story where Buffalo Milkshakes start to get redacted).

We were on the island five minutes, our stuff hadn’t even come off the boat yet, and my kids were already begging me to go down on the beach. Fifteen minutes later I relented. Five minutes after that, Katija came to ask me something and I noticed she was soaked head to toe in her clothing and shoes because she had to have a shell that must have been in ten-feet of water (the shoes, her only shoes on the trip, never did dry out until we got back home).

A truck came and got our stuff and we took the quarter-mile hike to camp – more like a mile, but who’s counting? Well, I was, because by now nature had called and the porta-potty facilities at the campsite were so sub-human that I truly considered the two-mile roundtrip walk back to town just to go to the bathroom. Instead, I pinched my nose and, well, you know the rest.

When I got out, I found my kids so caked in dirt that I considered filming them for a Sally Struthers PSA to feed the children. Because we had packed so lightly, I had to ration their clothing and there was really not much we could do because the campground was situated on a large patch of what could best be described as infield dirt.

What did I say about sleeping in dirt? I have to admit, we did have pre-made canvas tents over wooden frames with cots to sleep on. However, I’d be curious how much our group contributed to the local chiropractic economy after 15 middle-aged dudes slept on those things for two nights.

So, I was right. Sleeping in dirt is a stupid idea that only people who have the luxury and the means to afford comfort would think is a good idea. But, you know what? I hope we all go back next year.

We saw a buffalo and dozens of sharks in a lagoon while on a hike. At night, the children (and the men) delighted in having our campsite visited by deer and foxes. We snorkeled in pristine water among the beautiful orange Garibaldi fish that Catalina is famous for. After BBQ dinner (thanks Z!), 15 of the best dads I know sipped on cold refreshments and watched 25 of the nicest kids you will ever want to meet sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories, roasting marshmallows, and having a blast. I love camping. spt

Jack can be reached at