It was on my list of things to do before I turned 35 and with just two weeks to go, I got it in. We went camping; like for real, in a tent and not in someone’s backyard. We had been talking about it with our small group since last year and with one family moving out of town, we knew we needed to get it in before they left (much to their non-camping chagrin).
I grew up camping – yes, I consider sleeping in a pop-up camper camping, despite what my sleep on the cold, hard ground under the stars husband has to say about that – and I loved it. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from camping, not at all tarnished by the bad aspects, including the time we were riding bikes across the road (me sitting on my dad’s crossbar) and my foot went in the wheel of my dad’s bike and we flipped over in the road and my mom had to drag us out of traffic. My dad couldn’t sit for a week but we still got to get ice cream after I stopped crying, so bonus! Happy memories. I had always dreamed my kids would get to make the same memories – minus the near death experiences – but I also knew my ability to be able to deal with them camping wouldn’t start until they weren’t so into actively trying to harm themselves in normal settings (a.k.a., post-toddlerhood) and Jack being Jack, we had to wait a little longer to ensure we wouldn’t sneak out of the tent in the middle of the night and go swimming. But from here on out, I think we can say we are a camping family. After one weekend, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to going again and trying to figure out when that can happen.
It’s pretty easy to say that when you go with awesome company with built-in playmates for your kids (we had 15 kids between five families) and an ideal setting for camping with all your normal free activities (beach, playground, dirt for digging and ponds to go frogging in), plus some abnormal ones like a petting zoo and skate park and some paid ones (archery, riflery and horseback riding).
Jack 100% approved of the paid activity of candy purchasing at the Barn Store.
We might have been newbies to camping with our family, but Simon and I are old souls when it comes to the experience and we had good friends who loaned us most everything we brought, including an awesome bunk bed-cot set up for the boys, which was the best thing! I think it helped us enjoy the experience to have all the things we needed to make life a little more convenient in a new situation. I highly recommend hitting up your camping friends when you attempt to go camping for the first time – it comes in handy when you want to test it out before going all in. But now I think we’ll be going all in… anyone have some good leads on camping equipment? And, mom, I now have a Christmas list for our family.
Hopefully this is the start of a lovely family tradition, one we do again with these friends (and any other friends who want to join us) as it is the friends that helped make it fun for everyone. Without all the playmates, I’m sure I would have heard the dreaded, “I’m bored” at least a hundred times and without all the grown-ups, I’m sure one of us parents would have lost our minds on our children, instead we could just walk away and know another adult could take the reins. Community is a beautiful thing (so is all food prepared and eaten outdoors).
This post is all over the place and not at all organized, but I wanted to capture the weekend before too much times passes. Despite my eldest son coming out of the tent to throw up (because someone always has to puke; he was fine, just too much junk food and watching another kid play a video game in the tent; and bonus points to him for NOT doing it in the tent) and despite one family getting rained out in the middle of the night, I would do the weekend over in a heartbeat. This is life: making memories, making the best of every moment and creating situations where the experience so much greater than the sum of all the parts.
Of course, despite my thinking they would revel in the outdoors living, no-holds barred approach to cleanliness, both children asked for long baths on the way home, so they are still city boys at heart.
I loved this sweet moment between my boys and we’ll pretend it happened almost completely organically and that I didn’t tell Jack to go sit by his brother and “please, just don’t hit him.”