i have a love hate relationship with camping. this comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me even a little. i want to be more granola. i do like the outdoors. A LOT. but camping. man. it’s . . something different.
camping is not something i’m new to. as a kid we camped quite a bit. i vaguely recall the first camping trip (and lord knows I probably will get some of this wrong), but i believe we went up to cape cod. i know there is a picture of my mom at a picnic table with daisy’s and a bottle of champagne. i believe these were bribes. i dont really recall much from that trip but here are memories i DO have from camping.
bugs. heat. boys. camp stores.
we camped lot when I was growing up. It was always hot. It was always buggy and there were always boys. My role was to sullenly help set up camp and then walk the campground in my cutest outfit and look for hot boys. period. i always particularly liked the camp stores. I dont know why. but they all smelled the same and every time I walk in to one I am reverted back to 14. my camping trips to the east cost are punctuated by summer boyfriends. i even remember some of their names.
i made some female friends along the way a well. it was always interesting to see how other girls dressed and acted outside my little sphere. one friend i ended up pen-pal’ing with for several years and eventually flew to CANADA! when I was 14 to visit her. (and we are now fb friends, I love the internet!)
so those were fun things as a kid. boys. friends. once i hit about 17 i opted out of any family trips and my camping days were . . i thought… behind me.
then i met steve and on our second date he took me to Chain O Lakes to go canoeing. Chain O was where he had camped a lot with his family, and so had I, so it was a familiar spot for both of us. eventually we started camping up there together. camping was now better because beer was involved. this is me right before i flipped him off. i was still not a great camper at this point. plus i think i was hungover.
so for my married life we took the kids camping. We camped in the U.P., we camped in NC. and we camped at Chain O. it always felt like a lot of work but steve liked it and the kids liked it. and i drank beer.
in the next phase of my life i became part of a camping family of 7 and that took on a whole new realm. short trips took two pick up trucks, 3 tents and 4 coolers. and beer. but moments like this made it enjoyable.
Ok enjoyable is a relative term because what you see right there folks is MUD. That is 3 of 4 boys playing in MUD. MUD! I”m having anxiety just looking at the photo. But look at those faces. Those are happy kid faces. Eventually we took to borrowing a family RV and camping started looking like THIS:
And one would think that it would be easier but it was still a lot of work. Just somewhat more efficient.
so its been a few years since we did any camping at all, and feeling guilty i proposed a camping trip with my boys. just me and my two boys. this weekend was our field test. test our current system (we have none) and asses things.
we managed. we had a good time. and if i’m going to do this again soon (which i’ve promised) i DO need a system. it simply has to be an efficient process or i just cant . .
so. i’m sitting at Chain O Lakes last night. and its pretty full. fortunately we had found a nice spot in a pretty quiet corner. and i’m running all these years of camping through my head. and i’m looking around at all these other people and i’m trying to figure out the ALLURE of camping. because camping is essentially this: you pack up stuff from your house, and put it in your vehicle. and drive out to some other place. and set up a flimsy structure or two that serve as your temporary home. and you put your things in it. and then you do the things you do at home (sleep. eat. build fire- possibly) but everything is harder. you want dinner? oh well build a fire and wait for the coals to get hot. making coffee takes about an hour. or at least it did for me. even with half a bottle of accelerant, it takes awhile to get the fire hot enough to boil water. meanwhile, bugs are trying to eat you alive. so you coat yourself in chemicals to avoid that. need to go to the bathroom. well you get to walk a pace to get there. shower? possibly its warm. possibly some ungodly spider is joining you. the floor is ALWAYS wet and getting your clothes on without dragging them through the murkey water on the floor is indeed a real talent. and guess what? not everyone takes their straightener. so you do get judged. not by me. i take mine.
but there i sat. drinking my beer, (out of a glass. there is no need to abuse good beer just because you are camping) and was just kind of baffled by everyone around me. THIS is what humans are doing for fun. ok.
but still. there i sat. because there is something about it that feels . . good? Maybe its simply providing an experience for my boys that they enjoy. if their dad could do this, would i? i’m honestly not sure. but there are times i think about taking off by myself for some headspace time and I always picture taking a tent and taking off. so there must be something about it i enjoy.
but i know what else i enjoy. room service. down pillows. and a good balcony overlooking the city.
its good to know that while i feel more comfortable in the latter. i can successfully do both. and my love/hate relationship will continue for a few more years. because the boys had a good time. and want to do it again. so off we will go. with a better, more efficient system. and lots of bug spray.