Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend of Firsts, Camping Edition

How many of you slept on the cold hard ground for 2 nights this weekend? Sure, maybe some of you were camping also and could answer "yes" to that question, but wait. I'm not talking air mattress here. I mean, I really slept on the ground with only a sleeping bag and a couple of blankets under it for cushion. My hips are killing me. Turns out the phrase "cold hard ground" was coined for very accurate reasons.

This weekend was my first experience with tent camping. Here's the basics of my personal "de-evolution of camping" over the past year. A year ago in October I went camping for the very first time in my life. I slept in an RV. Not too shabby. The next Spring, my family embarked on our own and chose a screened shelter. When I first saw that empty concrete-floored box I wondered if I had lost my mind. But, we had so much fun, we stayed in a shelter again that summer. Big mistake. Not the shelter...the part about it being summer. It was hot and miserable, but at least we had company since you know misery loves it. And finally, this weekend, we tent camped at a site with no electricity. The tent made the screened shelter look like a palace in my opinion.

Our tent is rather small. In fact, I don't think we realized how small it is until we tried to shove our family of 5 inside. Only 3 sleeping bags would fit across the width of the tent. So, the kids and I all slept inside 2 opened bags and covered ourselves with another open sleeping bag. Did I mention the temperatures dropped to the 40's at night? Thankfully the sheer volume of hot-aired breathers in our tiny tent kept it reasonably warm.

It may seem like I didn't enjoy myself. Not true! I loved it. It's just that these experiences were so new to me. I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of sleeping in a tent, even after doing it. Did I mention it rained? We woke up to heavy mist Saturday morning. At first I thought the plops of water hitting the tent after accumulating and falling from the tree above us were Cody's bones popping. I finally realized, once the popping noises increased in frequency, that I was in for a wet awakening. Did I mention that somehow water got into our tent and got all the kids' pillows wet? It's really the small details that make a camping trip so interesting. Again, even though it was cold and wet, I had a blast.

How about these details...the kids went on a 2 hour hike with Cody that involved breathtaking views of the lake and huge rocks. They passed through a crevice between two enormous walls of rock. The boys fished, casting over and over with their dad. We roasted marshmallows, and ate s'mores until the kids' faces were a sticky mess. I stared into the dancing flames of a campfire for hours while talking with good friends. We shared a lovingly prepared breakfast (that I didn't have to cook! Thanks Michael and Chris!) with a huge group of friends on a crisp cool morning while the children played together. I got to read a great book, watch my daughter climb trees, and snuggle with Lucas at night.

I am a total camping convert. If someone had asked me a couple of years ago if I thought I would ever enjoy, or even just go camping, I would have said "no." But it turns out that camping is a lot of fun. Our entire family loves doing it. And it's really nice when we get to go with a big group of people. It's a beautiful, fun, easy-going environment. It's inexpensive. It gets everyone outside and active. I'm learning something new with every camping trip we take. (I boiled coffee one morning in a pot on a Coleman stove.) I also learned what I need to buy in order to sleep more comfortably next time. (Thanks for the tip Susan.)

I'm already looking forward to spring and our next camp-out.


Rachel said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it...and that you are a convert! Would you believe I've never camped in a shelter? Casey and I will never forget the time we went camping in Arkansas and a HUGE storm rolled through that night. We got soaked in our tent, needless to say. The rain fly was worthless. But we had fun too.

Anonymous said...

You are making the greatest of memories with your kids! When I think back on my childhood as a whole, it always revolves around camping. Allison and I have already made some plans for summer 2010. Your story makes me want to go to go camping tonight!