At the beginning of a trip if my partner and I can look one another dead in the eye and say earnestly with as straight a face as possible to one another:
I want us to be completely open to new experiences and say yes to everything even if it’s shocking and painful – can we agree to that?
Then we are ready to go camping.
We always find the time to take at least a couple of camping excursions through the summer to spend time with family.
Usually we do a large family road trip around the end of August where everyone in the family gets a piece of paper whereupon they write the destination of their choice that is within a 10 hour drive. We place all choices in a hat and pull one out at random. We have done this sporadically with my parents and brother (and his family) since … I don’t even know … 2006? The first year we pulled New York City (my brother’s choice) and the (then) 7 of us drove through upstate New York and did the State Fair and then stayed on the outskirts of New York City and took the train in while other family members could remain outside the city and camp if they so chose, we ended with a trip to Atlantic City and some Jersey Shore beach time. In the following years we have done a few years in Stowe, Vermont, we’ve ventured to Boston (my dad’s choice that time), we have road tripped from South Florida up through Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville and home, in 2012 my choice to go to New York City again came up and this time we did wineries in upstate New York before landing in a campsite right off the docks at the Hudson and ferried over to the WTC subways to do all the museums and Central Park cycling trips you can feasibly handle. In the last years we’ve completed Virginia Beach and up the Coast through Chincoteague to the Cape and, the only children’s selection, a camping trip just across the border in Port Huron, Michigan.
With a new baby among us this summer we’re staying closer to home and have made our camping trips associated with our new sailboat around the southern bend of Lake Huron.
To rev Hunter up into the excitement of camping nearby (or near for us), we did an art craft of “camping supplies,” which is really a list of things that he really wanted to do while camping.
I started the entire craft by just painting a black gouache background, letting it dry, then doing the blue gouache bubble at the top to make the title: “Let’s go Camping”. I got the idea for the black background from an effect that I liked in the “starry night” art activity, and what is the most fun about camping anyway? Staying up late, right? Which led me to decide: a night scene.
We carefully drew each of Hunter’s desires associated with camping with oil pastels. The end result was really quaint. Making them all happen proved more challenging – we made a good dent in the list – the hike has to wait for another vacation, but sailing, campfires, glowsticks,
running around with flashlights, picnics, smores, time at the pool and spending time with family in a trailer all occurred along with a number of late, late nights! We even threw in other activities like party decoration making, board games, and mini golf in the mix.
The extra long weekend was a blast for all the children and adults as we also celebrated my parent’s wedding anniversary with a steak and lobster dinner prepared by my brother and I and our spouses. We served as the galley making food and distributing it to the couple of honour (and a bunch of kids) on the boat – fully decked out in the decorations I made with the children and with their help decorated the boat.
The sailing weather was perfect as we caught good winds through the day and motored out into calm evenings. Even the baby got in on the action in different ways (under a nice warm poncho or in her carrier). Hunter learned to steer the boat and by the end of the trip was learning the ropes of the sails and how to make them move the boat. We ended our evenings at the marina with campfire, marshmallow and song. You can’t ask for anything more from two parents trying their best, I think.
We came home tired, which signalled to us – success – as we’ve always craved the discomfort a really good camping trip demands. One night all the cousins slept in one bed, we let them stay up, eat chocolate and marshmallow by the pound, run like crazy, climb, dive, scuttle under and around anything they chose. They were the most free we could let them be without putting their lives in danger. We topped everything with ice cream, burgers, hotdogs and anything else not usually allowed at home.
By the end they all had a little bit of the crazy eye about them as they declared, “I am soooo happy.” Well then, mission accomplished.
A little pain, but we’re agreed nothing too shocking this time around. Onward into August camping!