I went camping last week in the Pine Barrens with my friend Tim and my son Jake. I don’t know why we go there. The terrain is boring, we’ve had too many bad experiences there and for some reason we always wind up at the Emilio Carranza memorial. There are also too many bugs. Being it was still April I figured that insects weren’t really a concern, but as Gomer Pyle used to say “surprise surprise surprise”.

After gathering kindling for a fire on the first night at Bass River Sate Forrest, Jake complained of something crawling in his ear. I looked and saw something disappear further down his ear canal. Feeling alarmed yet trying to put on an unconcerned face, I immediately went to find the Q-tips I knew I had packed. “I hear it moving and it tickles” he said as Tim and I looked at each other horrified. It immediately came to me, put water in his ear. I saturated the Q-tip and dripped water into his ear canal until it was filled. Suddenly a big Wood Tick crawled out of his water filled ear and I quickly scooped it up with the swab.

The thought of a small bug deep within your ear is bad enough, but a tick in your ear! There’s nothing like feeling embarrassed by the bravery of an 8-year-old.

The next day we went kayaking on Lake Absegami. Paddling through cedar swamps and watching snapping turtles and nesting geese was the highlight of the morning. We decided to take a break and landed on the far side of the lake. I happened to see another tick, this time attached onto Jake’s neck. For some reason I happened to have a tweezers in my pocket as well as some antiseptic (I could have been the perfect Let’s Make a Deal contestant) and removed the tick but not before catching a glimpse of another below the neckline of his shirt. Pulling off his shirt revealed another five attached to his upper body, except these were Deer Ticks.

We saw another tick attached just below his waistband. I swiftly removed each tick being careful to remove the head. I pulled Jake’s pants down and there on his scrotum was yet another tick. As I came at it with the tweezers, Jake, with all the grace of a choreographed martial arts move, deflected the tweezers away with one hand and with the other reached down, grabbed the tick between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out himself. He said he didn’t like the look of the tweezers approaching his private parts. At this point we were all bummed out and wanted to return back to camp and find the shower facilities. Jake and I checked each other for ticks. Tim was on his own. I found a few more on Jake and he found one on me that hadn’t yet attached.

Jake declared this the worst camping trip he ever went on. In all fairness it was his fourth. On the other hand, Tim and I have been on much worse camping trips including one in the Pine Barrens which I will write about next time. All in all I didn’t think this trip was so bad. At least we didn’t end up at the Emilio Carranza memorial.