It seems that every time we go camping, we return home swearing never to do it again — for a few years, at least. Then another opportunity arises and we agree once again, in the hopes that something will have changed. Inevitably we return, wondering why we put ourselves through such madness simply for the sake of sleeping outside. Okay, it’s not actually thatbad! The camping itself is great. The challenge I refer to is entirely kid-related.
Take this past weekend, for example. We joined our church’s camping trip at a nearby provincial park and, wisely, opted for a single night. The people were great, the setting beautiful, the weather perfect, but we returned home after less than 24 hours of being away feeling utterly exhausted. All four of us collapsed for a two-hour nap and went to bed early last night, once we’d tackled the mountain of cleaning and putting away that was required.
Keeping track of the little guy is not easy. He’s constantly on the move, incessantly exploring, inexhaustibly curious, irritatingly stubborn. With the campsite surrounded on all sides by poison ivy, I was vigilant in trying to keep him on the paths, but there was not much I could do when his ball went bouncing into the carpet of three-leaved plants. I felt like I barely ate anything, because I was so busy trying to get food into the kids that there was no opportunity to put it into my own belly. Tents are not conducive to sleeping, either, especially when you’ve got two kids to put to sleep at the same time.
Experiences like this, though, are crucial for our kids’ psychological formation and well-being, and I’m more convinced of that than ever after reading Richard Louv’s amazing book, “Last Child in the Woods” (see my review here). That’s why we’ll continue to plug away at it, pushing through those endless hours of packing, organizing, chasing, overseeing, guiding, and cleaning up, so that our kids will become comfortable in nature and grow to love camping.
Someday, though, I hope to be able to sit in a chair by a campfire and actually read my book without interruption! At least my battery-operated milk frother allows me to have my morning latté, keeping me sane…