With in tent

by PeterG09

Camping, when you were a cub, meant sleeping on a camp bed, or a mattress on the floor in a wooden shed. In the Scouts it meant the real thing: a tent in a field with nothing but a couple of layers of material between you and the great outdoors. So it was really exciting for Mark and David to look forward to their first proper camp experience.

Then two of the Scout leaders got pinged, had to self isolate, and the whole camp project was cancelled as there were not enough available leaders to go round.

The boys were upset, to say the least. So David's father offered them the chance to camp in the orchard at the end of his small-holding. They could have the tent that usually went on holiday with the family. They could spend as much time as they wanted outdoors. They could cook their own food and look after themselves for four days. Mark's parents were enthusiastic. The two fathers agreed that they would put together some challenges, such as building bridges and lighting fires, that the boys would have done on the Scout camp. There was enough timber, rope and bits and pieces lying around the place that could be used.

Mark and David (never David and Mark) had been friends since primary school. When they both moved up to the local secondary school they found they were in different classes although in the same year. They were still able to meet up every break. They spent most of he holidays together and usually walked together to and from school every day.

The move to secondary school brought out a problem that had not been an issue in primary: bullying. Boys in big school are often bullies and Mark was a natural target for bullies. He was not sporty, was slightly under-size, and was not noisy or assertive. He just wanted to be left alone. He could be made to cry. Wearing glasses emphasised the look of perpetual puzzlement on his face and made him a natural target.

David was able to intervene in one of these bullying attacks in a way that left no doubt that he had Mark's back and anyone who made trouble for Mark had David to deal with. Gradually the bullying stopped and Mark got what he wanted, which was to be left alone.


The camp was to be over a weekend, Friday to Monday morning in half-term. The boys did lots of planning in the week before, and the Friday became all about setting up the camp. The tent was David's family holiday one so they knew how it all went together. That took most of the morning. Much of the afternoon consisted of running back to the house to get yet more things that had been forgotten. Torches, water bottles, blankets, sleeping bags, camping mattresses, cooking equipment, food in a cool-box and more all had to be fetched. Both boys knew the basics of cooking (or at least heating) food.

Mark wondered whether he should have brought Mr Bear. But he was a mile away and anyway big boys did not need stuffed bears to make them feel safe. All the same it was sometimes a great consolation to have Mr Bear to talk to. Secretly, Mark thought, he could tell Mr Bear all about his adventures when they were together again.

The tent was big enough for four. It had a built-in groundsheet and a sort of front porch you could stand up in. You could also set it up as a kitchen, for which they had a gas camping stove that lived in a wind-proof three-sided box.

Supper was sausages with beans, and pastries to follow with drinking chocolate. Eventually it all got prepared and eaten (note, borrow a table and camp chairs for the next two days). They stacked the dirty dishes and pans next to the stove. Around nine o'clock David's mother appeared and suggested they get ready for bed. She reminded them that they had a phone to use in absolute emergencies.

The two boys laid out their bedding and got undressed. David had pestered his mother to get him Calvin Klein undies, whereas Mark was still wearing regulation M&S briefs. He was a little embarrassed about getting undressed in front of David so he managed to wriggle out of his clothes and into pyjamas while half inside the sleeping bag.

Eventually they got sorted out and lay alongside each other talking in low tones, although here was no-one to hear them. The tent creaked a bit in the breeze which rustled the flysheet. The boys drifted off to sleep.

It was Mark who suddenly woke up to the sound of snuffling seemingly only inches from his face. He grabbed for Mr Bear then remembered he was not there. David was still asleep. The snuffling went on. Was it a wolf? There were no wolves in Surrey, were there? Maybe there was one is a safari park and it had escaped. Mark was in a state of terror when suddenly an almighty crash woke David and made both boys sit bolt upright. David grabbed the torch and gave them some light. They looked at each other.

"D'you think we should see what's happened?" said Mark. He meant should David investigate. But whatever it was might still be out there and neither wished to confront an unknown assailant in the dark. Mark reached for David's hand and held it tightly while they both tried to work out what to do. Eventually David, who had recognised the crash as their pile of plates and pots being knocked over, decided that it was probably a stray local dog investigating. He calmed Mark down with his confident air. They agreed to wait until the morning before looking outside. They both settled down to sleep again, but perhaps lying just a little bit nearer to each other. After all, you never knew when you would need a friend.

As they settled down there was a great thump outside, the tent shook and they heard David's mother's voice using a word that David had once been smacked for using. David, wide-awake now, grabbed the torch again and in a tremulous voice called "Mum?"

It was his mother. She had heard the original crash and looked out of her bedroom window in time to see one of the foxes that lived in the nearby woods. It had obviously investigated the dirty dishes and knocked the lot over. She came out of the house and in her haste to investigate she tripped over one of the tent guy-ropes and crashed to the ground, swearing.

When the boys finally settled down Mark thought it best to move a little bit closer to David just in case there were any more wild animals prowling around. He unzipped the side of his sleeping-bag so that he could reach out and touch David. He wondered whether it would be a big boy thing or a little boy thing to hold his friend's hand again. He moved his arm and found that David's was lying between them. He tentatively took the available hand and found it held firmly in response. So it must be a big boy thing then.


They woke because of the bright sun. The tent was full of light and the air was full of bird-song. David found that Mark's right arm was lying across his waist and his friend was cuddled close to him.

The Fathers had two challenges for the day. First was to construct a flagpole and then run a flag to the top of it. That took until lunchtime and the structure looked very grand with a t-shirt fluttering at the top. They had discussed flying a pair of underpants but David thought his parents might object.

The second challenge was to build a fire-pit so that they could have a campfire that evening and cook their supper on it. Having collected stones to make a ring to contain the fire they then spent some time scavenging dry wood for the fire. They had to get small twigs and light branches as well as heavier wood, as no paper was allowed as a starter, and if possible they were to get the fire going with just one match.

The fathers supervised the building of the fire. Dry grass and small twigs first, then bigger twigs and then some real wood. It caught easily and soon there was a good blaze going. Once there were some hot ashes the potatoes in foil jackets were poked in to the base of the fire.

The parents were invited for supper, which was the potatoes, hot dogs and burgers cooked on sticks, and some bread and salad. Fruit was for afters, and marshmallows to toast. After the meal the parents retired to the house having told the boys not to stay up all night. David's mother suggested they should take the dirty pots and dishes back to the house rather than have them left out overnight.

Mark dragged a blanket out of the tent so that they could sit together by the fire. In doing so he made the interesting discovery that the two sleeping-bags could be zipped together to make a double. He tentatively suggested to David that they try it that night. David was very happy with the idea. The boys stayed by the fire, sharing the warmth of the blanket and chatting until it was properly dark and time for bed. By the light of a torch they sorted out the tent and laid one of the sleeping-bags flat on the air mattresses. Then they put the other one on top of it and found that they did indeed zip together.

Once inside the tent Mark saw that he could not do his undressing act of he previous night. He decided that the best thing to do was to wriggle to the back of the tent, get undressed and put on his pyjamas there, and then wriggle forward again. None of this seemed to bother David who stayed where he was to get changed.

They got in to their joint bed, then neither knew quite what to do. They hugged each other for warmth and for company, and talked about everything that had happened that day. Perhaps there would be no more wolves tonight. Gradually they drifted off to sleep.


It was a gentle rain that woke them in the early ours. Not a great storm, just the patter of rain. It was comforting to be in a dry tent with wet weather only inches away. Mark found that in the night David had turned over so that his right arm and leg were over Mark's. But once awake, Mark realised that he needed to pee. He tried to work out what to do. The rain meant that he could not just leave the tent and go behind a tree. He thought that perhaps if he got out of the tent but under the porch extension then he could pee on the grass at the side. In squirming around to ease himself out of the bag he roused David.

"Wha's going on" he mumbled

"Need a pee. Sorry"

"Don' get out. Use this." David turned on the torch and handed Mark a 1-litre milk-bottle. There was some liquid in it. "Got it from the recycling. Just pee in that. Don' spill it or there'll be a flood"

Mark managed to kneel up and take the container. It was a very odd experience to try and insert himself in to the bottle while his friend watched but his need was desperate. It felt a bit naughty. Something else not to tell Mr Bear about. Afterwards David took back the bottle, screwed the cap on, and stored it just outside the tent door.

Mark was shivering from the cold air. Once back in the sleeping bag he felt much braver and safer. As he lay next to David he felt enfolding arms and legs around his body and moved closer to enjoy David's warmth. He was aware of a hand lying just across his tummy. It felt alright. Like that they drifted back to sleep.

The Fathers had a new challenge for the last full day of the camp. There was apparently a raging torrent of a river running between two trees about ten feet apart. The boys had to contrive some way of crossing this without getting wet, and get back again. David, as ever, wanted to pitch straight in and do something. Mark wanted to think it over, see what resources they had, and then plan. What finally happened was the usual mix of the two.

The first idea was a sort of sheerlegs. One person could hold on to a rope hanging from the apex of an A-frame while the other swung them across to the other side. The problem was that neither of them was strong enough to pull the other back. They tried this several times away from the 'river' before giving up. The next idea was to make a rope bridge from one tree to the other, but they could not work out a way of getting a rope across and back again. The last attempt was the one that worked: lay a plank across two logs, one person to sit on the landward end of the plank while the other crawled out over the river and put a big log under the free end. The other plank could be run from there to the further bank. There and back, no getting wet, problem solved.

They had another cook-out for supper, but on their own. They took the dirty dishes back to the house as before, then sat by the fire wrapped in the blanket. Dusk turned to night and David put his arm around Mark's thin shoulders. Mark did not resist, but snuggled in to him. The hoot of an owl hunting from the wood broke the spell and they both suddenly felt chilly.

Once in the tent they zipped up the door. Mark was going to do his usual act of quickly getting undressed and in to his night things but David said "I was really hot last night. I'm not going to put my pyjamas on" Mark looked over to see what David was doing. By the torchlight his friend undressed down to his pants and then got in to the sleeping-bag.

"I was hot as well" said Mark and with an air of indifference which he did not actually feel he took of his clothes and crawled in next to David. They turned the torch off and lay with their bodies touching. Neither knew what to do next. In the end David put his arm across Mark's chest and they turned towards each other. It was thrilling to experience the touch of another warm body and Mark felt a sort of fluttering and tightness in his tummy. He had felt it a few times before and knew it was to do with having thoughts about David. They hugged each other while whispering together. It didn't seem right to talk out loud. Mark could feel something different about his friend's body and wondered whether David had the same feelings in his tummy. He moved his arm to a more comfortable position and suddenly found that he was brushing against David's willy. He tried to pull his hand back but David held it in position. Both boys wriggled against each other, getting nice feelings. Eventually, like that, they fell asleep.


The dawn chorus and bright early sunlight woke them. During the night they had both moved so that Mark was now curled up in David's lap. David was rocking his hips so that he rubbed against Mark's bottom. Mark could feel that there was something different about the shape of David's body. He turned over to face the other boy.

David suddenly leaned forward and kissed Mark on the lips. It was rather messy and, for Mark, completely unexpected. Only his parents and the odd relative had ever kissed him before, and always when he was expecting it, and never quite like that. He was unprepared for this. In a way so was David who acted on impulse and had no idea what would happen. His first attempt was off-centre and missed Mark's lips. Mark for his part was frozen with surprise. He looked in to David's eyes. "Sorry" he said. Mark said nothing but made his own attempt to kiss back. They managed to get the aim right and pressed their lips together. For a long time they lay like that. Neither knew what to do next, and neither wanted to break off. But after some minutes they separated.

They lay for a few minutes looking at each other.

"That was nice."

"I liked it. Can we do it again?"

After another few minutes they again lay looking in to each other's eyes.

"Are we boyfriends now?"

"I suppose so"

Eventually they were summoned by David's mother calling. Reluctantly they got out of bed and got dressed.

The tent had to be emptied and aired, and then taken down and packed away. All their kit had to be taken back to the house. The boys tried to get on with it but every time their eyes met they started giggling. They did not know when they would be able to be together like that again but they could hardly wait. Some sort of a change had happened between them and they wanted it to go on, forever.

After breakfast at the house they carried all the equipment back and put the bedding on the washing line to air. When the packing away was over David's mother asked them whether they had a good time.

Mark and David both said "yes" and began giggling.

She told them to go and have a bath before having lunch. "You both smell of campfire. You might as well share the water."

As they turned to go upstairs she said "Oh, and one other thing. Next time you air the sleeping bags, unzip them first!"

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