Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Camping with a Kid

The Great Backyard Camping something-or-other is coming up, an event I only found out about because I happened to finally catch up on some blogs, and since it’s an excuse to finally put the tent up in the backyard and thus clinch the deal on my neighbors forever thinking I’m a nutjob, I think it’s a great idea. I wasn't even going to bother registering but then my curiosity got the better of me and I did, but then the website confused and irritated me (how do I set my Team Name? where's the template for inviting people to camp with me instead of asking for money?) so I'm going to ignore if for a little while. And, uh, the weather forecast is calling for rain anyhow.

Jordan Lake Park, NC - Jellybean eats bacon. Friend looks at bug in bottle. Life is good.

People assume that growing up in the wilds of Northern Ontario meant I camped practically every weekend, nay, lived in a tent more likely. And I’m sure that there are families who are like that in Canada, just as there are families like that all over the US and Europe and everywhere else in the world. However, the area I’m from is fondly referred to as ‘cottage country’, which means the more sensible people on vacation go to their cottages. This is because, while the wilds of Northern Ontario are beautiful, they are vicious. Yes, there are bears and poisonous growy things and whatnot, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about blackflies. Nasty, nibbly blackflies. And the mosquitoes are bigger there, too, I think. And it gets COLD at night.

Armed with her backpack o' gear, Jelly sets off in search of adventure. It does NOT get cold at night here.

My parents were not the sort of folk who could afford a cottage, and despite being dirty hippies, they weren’t into battling blackflies with a pack of obnoxious children. Keep in mind that was the 70’s, when tents were made of canvas and weighed approximately 846 lbs, and took about four days and eleven people to assemble. There weren’t luxuries like collapsible marshmallow toasting forks and Kelty camp sinks (just got mine, can’t wait to use it, it’s freaking adorable!). My mother and sister shake their head in disbelief when I talk about camping – I’m not exactly the outdoorsy type, and they have no idea where my love of this activity came from. I admit I will never be the person strapping on a backpack and hiking into a site, and Jelly and I definitely like our air beds and a flush toilet within walking distance. But it’s relaxing, and cheap, and I dunno, I can’t explain it, I hate washing dishes at home but man, I love to wash dishes in a tub on a picnic table.

Pitching in like a good camper (get it? 'pitching' in?)

We’ve officially camped twice now, both times in the pouring rain, so even though it’s only twice I think those two experiences should count as much more. My $40 BJ’s tent (there was a $10 rebate when I got it!) performed amazingly and was the perfect size for us, and the camp stove from my mum is like an Easy Bake oven, only way better, because, you know, it can cook bacon for reals. Jellybean had a blast – she was ridiculously patient waiting for me to do all the boring stuff that I never understood what took parents so long to do, and was a good helper, and had fun running around with her friend who was camping with us. She slept great, and napped great, and the sky cleared up and we swam and went for walks and looked at interesting bugs and made pancakes and sang camp songs and lit sparklers at twilight. This upcoming weekend the same friends will come over and we’ll put up the tents and get out the hot dogs and marshmallows, and there won’t be any television or bath time or internet; there will be fireflies, and contraband drinks in plastic cups after the kids are abed, and an open sky overhead.

Overcast, but not rainy!

I just really, really recommend ear plugs. You never know what the campground is going to be like. Our first trip, the location was quiet, but there were some crazy-loud snorers in our Single Parents group. This trip, well, it was a long weekend, I don't know what I was thinking. Par-tay! I don't worry about sleeping with ear plugs in with a kid in a tent, the kid is right there and is going to smack me in the face if I don't respond to her. And yeah - bathroom. Unless you're hardcore, and especially if you're potty training, make sure to get a site near the facilities.

But I say, do it!


Genkicat said...

Ughhh.... Hate doing dishes in a plastic tub, hate sleeping on air matresses, hate the sound of bears, cougars, elk, and other critters trying to get at my food, hate cold nights, hate having to walk outside to pee ... hate camping.

Ugh... maybe you could come to Vancouver, so my kid at least gets to try it.

DannieA said...

oh that looked like a blast!