A week before we were to go, the girl fell sick with strep and pink eye. I’d never been so happy to see 39.9 on the thermometer in my life!
Luc and the boy and our friends and their girls went anyway and I managed to put off for another year what I had managed to avoid for the first 42: packing my entire life into a knapsack, trekking into the deep, dark, scary, bug-ridden wilderness, foraging for sustenance, pooping in a hole that I dug myself, and sleeping on the cold, hard ground with only a flimsy swath of nylon to protect me from whatever beasts roam the black, black nights.
This spring, when the topic came up again, I agreed yet again. Yes, there was wine involved. Again.
And although the girl started coughing and sneezing about a week before our slated date, it didn’t develop into anything. (If you can’t count on your 7-year-old daughter to get you out of something you don’t want to do, who can you count on??!? There was a precedent!!!)
Instead of a knapsack we filled the mini-van to overflowing. Instead of a deep, dark, scary, bug-ridden wilderness there was Wellesley Island State Park Campgrounds. We had four coolers and three bins of food for the two days we’d be there. Toilets and showers were a three-and-a-half minute walk down the path. My queen size blow-up mattress kept me off the cold, hard ground, and our nearly new hi-tech tent didn’t have to protect us from any beasts whatsoever. (I think there was a Chihuahua a few campsites down. I’m OK with Chihuahuas.)
Here’s what I learned about camping for the first time at 43 years old:
- It’s all about the food.
- And the booze.
- There will be bugs.
- Thankfully not many.
- No matter how quickly you dive in and how tightly you zip up the flaps, what few bugs there are will get into the tent.
- It is OK to put a worm on a hook and then reach into a bag of chips.
- It is not OK to be bothered by this.
- No matter how much you want to protect them, children are genetically predisposed to a) climbing tall trees b) entering dark caves c) dangling off sharp precipices and d) running at frightening speeds towards open water and blazing fire.
- Apparently this is good for their mental, physical and emotional development.
- This is not good for Mommy’s mental, physical or emotional development.
- If you turn your back to your children you can effectively pretend they are not a) climbing tall trees b) entering dark caves c) dangling off sharp precipices or d) running at frightening speeds towards open water and blazing fire.
- Wine always helps.
- Hence the booze.
- The men will toss the tent, the waterproof matches and the sleeping bags into the van 10 minutes before departure and call it packing.
- The women will take a week to plan the food, buy the food, prepare the food, organize the clothes for each family member for every possible weather forecast, bring the meds, the sunscreen, the After Bite and the Polysporin, and make sure Mr. Bunny doesn’t get left behind.
- THIS is packing.
- The sunsets are spectacular.
- Nothing tastes better than a perfectly roasted marshmallow on top of a square of dark chocolate smushed between two graham crackers eaten beside a crackling campfire under the stars.
- With good friends.
- And filthy, exhausted, happy, mentally- physically- and emotionally-well-adjusted children.
- And a glass of wine.
Check out Luc’s thoughts on camping.