Happy Campers

I camp with other moms whose husbands don’t like camping. Forget dads taking their sons fishing and roasted their catch on the open fire. Instead, we are moms who take our sons foraging and feed them fancy salads with edible flowers.

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(Okay, we didn’t actually make our sons forage for food. The flowers came from my sister’s produce tub. But the triscuits were foraged!)

We only camp once a year and each summer I let myself buy one camping item from REI. This year it was camping pads. No more stuffing our car with every soft thing we can carry before we drive off—now we have three neatly sausaged camping pads!

At checkout, Kevin snuck a titanium spork onto the counter. “Woah woah woah,” I said. “That will have to wait for next year.”

“It’s for Vincenzo,” he explained. “It’s time gets his own spork and becomes a man.”

There was absolutely no reasoning with him, and so here is Vincenzo’s spork, having its first food. (A turkey sandwich.)

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And taking its first bath.

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*sniff* They grow up so fast.

Kevin doesn’t understand why we camp. He thinks it’s funny I buy camping pads so I can make the ground feel a little less ground-y when my bed at home does the job so much better and also does not have to get stuffed into a sack the size of a pillow case at the end of each night.

So I’ve been thinking about it. Why do I like camping? Why do I intentionally spend a weekend depriving myself of most of the past 500 years worth of inventions? (6,000 if you count the invention of the bed). Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Despite the hours you spend hiking or sitting beside a creek or playing BS around the campfire, when you think back to your favorite camping trips, it’s the follies and near-disasters that stand out. Go on! Try it!

We shared some of our favorite camp memories around the fire, like the time my friend’s daughter got lice from a helmet she wore during a horseback ride. And the time the person camping next to them seemed a bit mental, so her husband slept with a hammer under his pillow. There was the time my sister’s car had a dead battery when we were all packed and ready to catch the ferry home. We got the car jumped and raced to the ferry—only to get their car on and mine not so much. (Fortunately they let me squeeze on.)

As for last week’s camping trip, every time we went into the bathroom there was a lady sitting there in a camping chair, charging phones and scowling at us in a disturbing way. Also, at 3AM, three of our boys woke up. Luke wanted his mom, Ari couldn’t zip his sleeping bag, and Leo instantly disappeared into the woods. He showed up a minute later in our tent, very confused as to where his pillow went. We pointed Leo to the correct tent, zipped up Ari,and  moved Luke into our tent. While getting everyone back in their proper places, my sister saw someone lurking behind a nearby tree so she shined her flashlight on it. It  was my other sister, crouching behind a tree, doing what one does behind trees when one is camping. The next morning, my sister’s pants caught on fire.

It was absolutely perfect. It’s the reason we go camping.

Of course, we also go because of this.

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You turn a corner and can’t take it all in, it’s so hugely beautiful. Even though you recognize the rocks and water, the green of the trees and the sigh of the sky—even though you recognize these as things of this planet, still you think, Can this be Earth?

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To be clear, camping is not about the pretty photos.  It’s about standing in the water, squealing because your toes feel like ice, then sliding down the rocks like a drop of water and when you can’t take the cold anymore, wrapping up in a towel and sunning yourself on one of the big, warm rocks that conveniently line the edge of the creek.

Sitting in a place that has grown up just fine without you and will continue to grow long after you are not makes you feel like nature doesn’t give a fig about you.

Sitting on a warm rock that is so perfectly placed next to an ice cold stream makes you feel that nature is doing this all just for you.

It’s wonderful to feel both at the same time.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken Ramen
Pickled cucumber salad
Peach cobbler

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