|Happy children going camping.|
|Dog, happy to get to go along.|
|Happy mom with sunglasses.|
And if that isn't enough to brainwash me, I remember a woman who lived in my neighborhood many years ago. She had 4 - 6 children (at the time) and the rumor was that she had gone home during her husband's deployment, driving all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast, camping along the way.
Wow. That's been like a Double Dog Dare for me ever since. I mean, she seemed like a normal mom. So if she could do that, surely I could camp a few nights with my husband doing most of the work. Right?
The last time we went camping was July 2007. I was heavy with child. I had a toddler. It was hot. Despite this memory, I continued to tell myself that I really wanted to go camping. Unfortunately, we moved during the summer of 2008, and Bill deployed during the summer of 2009. We had reservations to go camping last summer, but I caught some virus that took me out for more than a week. This summer, I told myself, we were going.
So, we did.
And it was fun. Sort of.
The reality of the situation is this: camping can be great fun, BUT...you have to accept certain truths which that soothing voice doesn't care to focus on.
1. Camping is dirty. It is. There is no getting around this fact. And if you have young children, or a dog, the problem is magnified. Even washing dishes involves a lower standard of cleanliness. I have to admit that the dirt makes me hyperventilate, slightly. And it makes me very appreciative of tile floors and hot running water.
|Digging in the road while eating a Poptart. I'm a GREAT Mom.|
|Do you see why I hyperventilate?|
|Look, Mom, filthy hands!|
There are a few ways to combat the dirt. One option is to wear long pants, socks and shoes. This is not an appealing thought when the temps are in the 90's. Another idea is to put your children, at least, in bathing suits and wash-and-wear shoes. Then you can periodically hose them off. This really is the best option for any child who feels compelled to sit and dig.
2. There are bugs and wild animals out there. Lots of them. Bugs, especially crickets, cicadas and frogs are very noisy at night, especially when it is hot. Moths and other nocturnal flying creatures are attracted to the lantern you are using to read after dark. Mosquitoes enjoy having you over for dinner. Wild animals will get in your trash or coolers if you leave them out.
|That's one big beetle who came to visit.|
3. Camping is work. You have to set up the tents. You have to light the fire. You have to hand wash the dishes. You have to haul the food in and out of your van to keep it away from the wild animals. You have to walk little children over to the showers several times a day. When you get home, you have to vacuum an inch of dirt and sand out of your van.
|Staking the tent|
|Putting up the 2 man tent|
|Holding the pole so Dad can find it.|
|The sandy soil made this an easy chore.|
|Setting up the chairs. They actually discussed how the chairs|
should be arranged by color. Such girly girls.
|Drying the dishes. Dirty towels as a tablecloth.|
|Woe is her. She was the ONLY ONE working, and it just wasn't FAIR.|
I think the work part of camping gets better with experience. And with children getting older who can help. Planning simple meals, especially things that can be pre-cooked, lessens that chore. You could use disposable plates and utensils if you must, but my "green" and cheap nature doesn't recommend it.
|Sandwiches: easy meal.|
And it is the work aspect of camping that appeals to me the most. Everybody helps out, so it really is a "family team building" experience.
Despite these facts, I still believe that voice that tells me camping is fun. I'm already thinking of our next trip, hopefully in a few weeks. My daughters may need some convincing, but mandatory family fun is the way we roll.