Note: I have had a bit of a blog pause because I’ve been obsessing on posting perfectly instead of just posting. Plus, I have a really serious blog post brewing based on something I read last week that just shredded me, but I’m not ready yet. Part of the problem is that it was so disturbing that I needed a little distance before I could write about it.The other issue is that my blog is evolving in a more humorous genre, and I haven’t figured out how to be both serious and passionate about the things I feel called to speak out about, while still being – most of the time – my irreverent, not-serious self. I’m guessing the best answer is to just do it, be true to who I am, which is equal parts silly and serious. I may have to take after my favorite blogger, Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like, who has occasional intentional Serious Wednesdays……in the meantime, bear with me.
One night of tent camping = 2 days preparation and 4 days of clean up
Two nights of tent camping = 2 days preparation and 4 days of clean up plus 2 extra laundry loads
Three nights of tent camping = 2 days preparation and 4 days of clean up plus 3 extra laundry loads
Clearly, a one night tent camping trip is hardly worth the trouble. Add the mental exhaustion inherent upon returning and one could be quite justified in questioning why one would do it at all? Not to mention the filth, the sunburns and the “are we there yets?”
Because my kids and my family are different when we’re camping, that’s why. Different in a way that is more profound than a “regular” vacation, which is of course fun and exciting and different from the home routine. In the woods, or the desert, or the mountains, without all of the stuff of home around us to distract us from each other, my kids will play with sticks. And dirt. And rocks, and bugs, and twigs and each other. And I will play with them. I have no laundry, no internet, no appointments, no dishes. (OK, there are still dishes.) So I can sit in my camping hammock with my magazine and watch my kids instead. Watch them make up games involving stumps and army men and valiant battles for world domination.
We’re adventurous, and tolerant, and interested in the world around us in a different way. We take care of each other, we are playful, and we’re relaxed in a way that doesn’t happen on other vacations.
Mind you, we’re not moving to a forest commune any time soon, nor am I claiming camping is total butterflies and rainbows. I love my bed at home, and I don’t know why we can’t find an air mattress that will stay inflated for more than 10 minutes at a time. I require total darkness and quiet to sleep well, and my kid want to wake up and play at 6 a.m. In the close confines of a tent this results in much angry shushing, threatening and general parental ugliness.
Last week, we took 6 Cub Scouts camping, plus our other two boys and a spare playmate. The grownups stayed up late to enjoy the (OH DEAR LORD THEY WERE FINALLY ASLEEP) peace and quiet and look at the stars.
Oh, the stars. Adjectives do not exist to express how glorious they were. We were in the high desert of central Oregon, in the middle of nowhere, not even a developed campground. The stars were amazing, intense, and humbling. I am convinced that if the entire human race could still step outside our homes and see the stars each night, we would be a less violent, power-hungry, arrogant bunch. Nothing like seeing the heavens laid out above you to give you a bit of perspective on what a speck you are in this beautiful world.
Anyhoo, I digress.
When we finally snuck into our tent to go to sleep, I eased hopefully into my sleeping bag, looking forward to sleep. But, wait? Why can’t I move my arms? Why is this sleeping bag so tight? Why am I SO UNCOMFORTABLE? I will spare you the details of the following hours, but suffice to say I was IRRATIONALLY tired, and beyond frustrated, and very thrashy angry grumpy sleepy. All the dwarves and some extras, really.
If I unpinned my arms, I was too cold. If I put them in the sleeping bag, I could not roll over or move them. I know I’m a wee bit chunky, but I couldn’t imagine what had happened between last summer, when I slept happily in the sleeping bag, and this summer. I began to speculate wildly that maybe my scale was broken, maybe I’d gained a lot of weight I didn’t even know about. The sleeping bag was even too short. At least, I figured that was the weird feeling I was experiencing, with my feet cramped and smushed at the very bottom end of the bag. I wasn’t sure, because at 4’11 I don’t have much experience with too short.
The next morning, after the worst night of sleep since the boys were babies, I realized I’d been in a child’s sleeping bag, about 8″ narrower than an adult bag. And not a camping-in-the-45-degree-desert-night sleeping bag, but a “I’m-going-to-grandma’s-for-a-sleepover” sleeping bag.
My undersized 10-yr-old had luxuriated in my flannel-lined, puffy adult sleeping bag, and slept like a baby. Sigh.
So guess what we’re doing for 3 of the next 4 weekends? Going camping, that’s right. ‘Cause even with a bad night’s sleep, I like who we are when we’re camping.
Plus there’s S’mores.