I bought a tent.
My Pinterest board, titled “Things I will probably never do, but will pin anyway”, must now be renamed “Camping”.
A six man tent, equivalent in cost to a night in a fancy four star suite, cannot hide in a garage somewhere. It must be used. I have spent four days and three nights initiating our family into the North American pastime of camping. My children, thinking this was long overdue, were delighted.
The eldest being fourteen, the youngest being six, had not yet slept in a tent. Oh, don’t feel too bad for them. We’ve roughed it in Africa, minus hot water, minus electricity, minus refrigeration, minus predictable food and once even minus running water for four days. By fourteen, they’ve travelled beyond anything most people will travel in a lifetime.
My eldest would later be asked what she thought of camping: “Dude, camping is just like Africa. You sleep on a hard surface, not enough food, water is scarce, you get a bunch of bug bites and there’s nothing to do!”
But North American camping? This was a first.
Five hours. It took me five hours to prepare this very first camping trip. Is that normal? That seems like a lot of work just to roast a few hot dogs on a fire.
“Do you really want to spend this much time preparing so you can sleep on the ground”, I ask my kiddos.
‘Ever Optimist’ replies…”Think of it this way, mom. You’re not sleeping on the ground, you’re sleeping under the stars!”
The tent came with no instructions. This would indicate simplicity, no?
I was worried.
But I’ve worked with Ikea furniture long enough that I can surely tackle a tent. Within ten minutes, I had the rods unfolded and strung through the right flaps, the dome figured and I lay within capturing the charmed sky. Marmot, you know how to make a tent.
Water supply, cooler freezing and filled, grilling supplies packed, enough foamies and bedding to not require the children to buckle up for the ride — we were ready to go!
The only thing lacking was forethought as to the midnight temperature pattern: cold. Cold enough to see your breath. Cold enough to awake a half dozen times, wondering if the burning icicles that were my feet would finally warm. Cold enough to awake another half dozen times, wondering if the kids should be rushed to emerg for hypothermia. Even cold enough to head to WalMart, to buy microfleece blankets and wool socks for the next night.
“Mom, I’m too hot”, came complaints from the mummified children in their sleeping bags the second night.
“At two in the morning, when you wake toasty hot, you can take off whatever you want. Till then, bonne nuit, mes petites choux!”
And soundly sleep we did — right through the night.
Awake earliest for the first time in fourteen years, I relished in the hypnotic symphony of stellar jays and sparrows and robins, poking my head through the door only after two chapters of my book were read and the last of my four opened their eyes.
Ahh, yes. This is why we camp.
Why do you camp?