Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeling Campy

We spent Columbus Day Weekend in the woods and we had a great time.  So brace yourself for an all-out pitch for camping.  

I camp with the zeal of a born again Christian, which makes sense because I’m more or less a born-again camper.   I did not grow up camping (unless you count the single camping trip I took during my 9 months as a Girl Scout).  I discovered camping after getting married.  Hubby and I happily camped together until our  children entered the scene at which point we abandoned it.  A few years ago we rediscovered camping and we have since been re-born as super-campers.  "Have kids will camp" should be our motto.

I was at first indifferent to the idea of camping, or maybe it’s more honest to say that I was actively uninterested in camping when I got married.  But Hubby wanted to camp and newly wedded love prevailed.  I agreed to a camping tour of the Southwest to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  We rented a car, tossed our tent and sleeping bags into it, and away we went.  There was open road and sightseeing by day, then a cozy camp fire and quiet conversation by night.   Things were simple then and, at least in retrospect, very romantic.  

About four years later things ceased to be simple.  We had our first baby, followed swiftly by the rest of our little brood, and we weren’t seasoned enough campers (or parents) to fathom sleeping in the woods with infants.  (Note to readers with babies: I have since learned from several camping masters that camping with babies is a cinch when you consider that everything you do with tiny new people is logistically difficult)  Not yet having this wisdom, we gave up camping.  It wasn’t a conscious choice.  We just stopped thinking about it. 

Then a few years ago I made a new friend.  The camper of all campers, Renee.  She and her husband organize a 50 person camping trip every Memorial Day Weekend.  This trip is organized and planned to such perfection that it would take a special post to do it justice.  Highlights include gourmet food (steak, lobster, and roast suckling pig with rosemary, for example) and several kegs of beer; organized fun for adults like a corn hole tournament complete with trophies; and endless activity for kids including nature hikes, a mini field day with medals for all, and art lessons.  The Visionis were bestowed an invitation to this camping fest.  Sofia wasn’t yet two, but we nervously accepted. 

Every since that trip I have been an over-zealous camper.  Now we take our  little family camping several times a year and everyone loves it.  To me there are few, if any, better ways to spend quality time together as a young family.   Camping has so many virtues.  My personal top ten are listed below.  I hope they inspire you to camp if you don’t already.

Top Ten Reasons Every Young Family Should Camp Together
  1. You can’t talk on the phone, answer email, watch TV, blog, or play Wii in a tent in the woods.  
  2. Kids are more creative in the woods.  Their imaginations are activated by nature (and the absence of toys).
  3. Kids entertain themselves at camp leaving grown-ups time to sit down and relax.
  4. Kids get REALLY tired at camp and go to bed early, leaving grown-ups to….you guessed it -  sit down and relax. 
  5. There are many chores for kids that empower them and make them feel good about themselves and what they can contribute to the family – collecting kindling, fetching water, helping pitch the tent, unrolling the sleeping bags, washing dishes, finding perfect marshmallow roasting sticks, mixing lemonade, and so on.    
  6. Our country is spectacularly beautiful and thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and some of our nation's other early tree huggers, much of it is protected in National and State Parks.  There is no better way to enjoy nature and its majesty than eating, hiking, playing, relaxing, and sleeping in it!
  7. Everything tastes better camping, so if you’re a so-so cook you can put a hotdog on a stick, warm it over a campfire, then slap it on a bun and be called the best cook ever by your family.  If you like to cook, as I do, camping offers a whole new way to test your culinary skills.    
  8. You can skip a shower and still fit right in. 
  9. Sleeping in a tent, surrounded by your whole family and waking up to your children’s groggy faces in the early morning light is priceless.
  10. AND…..all of this fun is dirt cheap.  
 So….go camping.  It’s good for the soul!

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