Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How My Family Changed My Mind--the Camping Version

I'm not exactly the out-doorsy, camping type, and when DG took T1 to the Cub Scout Jamboree last October, I was happily obliged to stay home with T2.  Not that I don't like being outside in nature, but it's kind of a lot of work.  I once asked my sister-in-law (a Pacific Northwest, Washingtonian who followed my brother's mountain-man sensibility and left CA when their kids were little) what she does when camping (they go like 12 times a year) and she said, "You know, you set up the camp, prepare the meals, keep the campsite neat, hang out by the fire."  Sounds like housework, not unlike what I do already everyday at home.  And it's C-O-L-D!  Sleeping outside when it drops below 70 degrees is not my idea of fun.

Nevertheless, I agreed to go on the end-of-the-year Cub Scout camping trip to Joshua Tree. The desert.  Warm at night (otherwise know as ninth-level-of-hell during the day).  And I loved it.

California's June gloom makes for a very mild desert June.  It was around 80 to 90 most of the time, with a warm breeze that embraced the campsite and made everything look crystal clear.  Rocks and plants crisply outlined against the blue, cloud-dotted sky.  Beautiful.

 T2 "meditating" against the desert sky

We hiked, cooked food in foil pack in the hot coals, listened to birds and little plant dwelling critters, watched lizards dart back and forth across the scalding desert floor, stared at the night sky, toasted marshmallows, and ate s'mores.

Now I understand why my brother loves it so much.  City kids like mine need exposure to nature.  They need room to run, a place where they can be loud.  When we're able to take the time to just be with each other, without some outside obligation, cell phone service, or TV.  It was magical.  See as evidenced by the faces above.  

So more camping may be in my future.  Hard ground and cold, sleepless nights aside, I owe it to them, to us, to make memories of their childhood with experiences they may want to pass down to their own families.  How can I argue with these faces?

We drove home dirty and tired.  I asked the twins how they liked it.  "It was AWESOME!" they yelled, as "awesome" is the most descriptive word 7-year-olds know.  But it was--awesome.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That is AWESOME!

notmytree said...

80-90 is mild?!?!?! DUDE, 65 is mild. Glad you guys had fun camping. I certainly love it. You should try finding a place to canoe while camping. I learned at Girl Scout camp when I was about the twins age, and it is soooo much fun. (:


SO FUN!! Your kids will have such amazing memories. My favourite memories are childhood hikes and camps with my dad.

Marie Green said...

My twins are 7 too; not sure I ever realized our kids were so close in age...

Here's some camping tips from me to you:

1. sleep on an air mattress. Seriously, you will be so much more comfortable!

2. keep all you camping gear together to make packing easier. (We have those large plastic totes that houses our gear between trips. We refill the stuff we used up: garbage bags, paper towels, lighters, etc after each trip, so next time we don't have to re-gather all the STUFF.)

3. Go with more than one family, and then divide up the meals and clean-up. For our 4 day camping trip, I only had to cook ONE meal, and help with one other. (we divide up breakfasts and dinners and eat very simply for lunches- like sandwiches, fruit.)

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love watching my kids get dirty and catch bugs and lay on the grass reading and all that stuff. You are right- it's a taste for them of the freedom with nature that we got to experience as kids.

Amy said...

This looks awesome. Almost makes me want to go camping. Almost.

Aging Mommy said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip into the desert. I have never been camping in my entire life - cabins yes but tents no and like you hate the cold. But when my daughter gets a little older I hope to do some trips like you are now doing - as you say, it is so very important to sometimes just get away from everything and let kids be kids, exploring this wonderful natural world. Lovely photos too.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

What a great experience!! I'm so happy you guys had such a great time. I'm kinda like you, not a bigger outdoorsy type, but started going camping with my family a few years ago for the sake of the kids. (I actually have a guest post coming out next week about this topic on my friend Swati's blog!)

We found a campground that was pretty cool actually. It has all these rivers and streams running through it where the kids can play. And a beach. And stores where you can buy things. And hang out in the air conditioning if you are me.

Anyway, I have to admit, I am still not a huge camping advocate, but even with the torrential rainstorms that seem to happen to us every year and the kids diarrhea blowouts this year(those were fun)I have to say, I'm pretty sure we'll be going back. And I'm going to enjoy it (even if I still like to complain sometimes. Hehehehe.)

Existential Waitress said...

I grew up in NE Wyoming, so we did a lot of hard-core camping. And by that I mean my parents thought pre-planned camping sights were for wimps. We'd trek all the way into the wilderness and set up shop for our camping excusions and fish for our dinner. It was fun then, but since I became an adult, it's not something I've opted to do on my own. I'm sure the kids will sucker me and the hubs into some camping though- especially in light of the fact that we're seriously considering mving somewhere more rural. I know exactly what you mean about the magic that can occur when you get rid of the day to day hub bub of television, cell phones, etc.