Words by Gary Pearson

After that horrible winter, everyone is primed for summer. Like you, I want to get outside and enjoy it, except I have trust issues. You see, in mid-March, when winter should have been over, I managed to slip on an icy sidewalk and break my leg. Since I was carrying a hockey bag at the time, I classify it as a hockey injury. It was a similar break to what NHL star Steven Stamkos suffered. He has returned to play spectacularly in the NHL, so I’m waiting for my call up to the Leafs at any minute. Let’s face it, they’ve done worse.

I’ve heard that most accidents don’t happen outside, but in your own home. This makes me think that everything is out to get me. So it seems the best course of action for me, as usual, is to try to stay perfectly still.

Summer can mean many dangers like poison ivy, nasty sunburns, falling into a ravine, or being eaten by a snake. That’s one thing I do like about winter: no snakes. Did you know that in Ontario, the poisonous Massasauga Rattler is a protected species? That means that you can’t kill it, and upon a vacancy, it’s first in line for a Senate appointment. Explains a lot.

Now, my kids love the outdoors and every summer they beg to go camping. I’m not a camper. There is a whole aisle at Canadian Tire I don’t even understand. I’m happy that we have a house to live in; why would I want to switch to a tent? Human civilization has gotten us this far with microwaves, central vacuuming, Candy Crush and Pop Tarts—why turn our back on all this progress? People talk of going “back to the land.” I don’t want to go back to any land. I prefer my feet standing on solid industrial laminate fake wood flooring. Plus, it’s indoors—less chance of snakes.

So to make everyone happy, pretty much every summer my kids go to a sleepover camp. It’s ideal. They swim, hike, play outdoor games and breathe the fresh air north of the city. They have enthusiastic teen leaders who are so young they haven’t figured out how hard they are working with dozens of loud kids for under minimum wage. The kids learn terrible songs, which, if I sang them out loud, they’d pelt me with dinner rolls. They even help set tables and clear dishes, camp skills that I promise you will disappear the moment they land back at home.

My kids have even gone to camps that are run by churches, even though we aren’t a religious family. When standing in the majesty of a forest, in clean air and surrounded by flowers and birds, it makes sense to pray; even if only to help ward off snakes. I went to church long enough to hear the story about the serpent.

So I’m glad my children spend a couple of weeks learning about nature and getting their faces out of their video games, Doctor Who reruns and Facebook. While they do that, I’m free to play video games, catch up on Doctor Who and go on Facebook. Fair trade.

backtalk1Gary Pearson is a TV writer for shows such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes. His novels Me and the Crack Mayor and Slapshot of Love are available at amazon.ca. You can follow him on Twitter @captainpearson.