by Susan Seyfarth
So, we took the kids camping this weekend.
Now my husband & I, we used to camp quite a bit. My husband loves Minnesota's fabled Boundary Waters the way some men love hot cars & fast computers & will jump at any excuse to throw the canoe on the car & head north. I'm more of a backpacker myself. I fell in love with hiking during what my father still refers to as my camp counselor days. (For the sake of accuracy, I would like to point out that I was not a camp counselor. I was an outdoor educator. It a REAL JOB, dad. Sheesh.)
Suffice it to say, we considered ourselves the outdoorsy types, my husband & I. We spent our honeymoon camping in Alaska, after all. For our first anniversary, we spent a few days on the Superior Hiking trail (an awesome wilderness trail that stretches from Duluth to the Canadian border), then got in the car & puttered our way into Canada where we hit all the provincial parks surrounding Lake Superior. Canada has some amazing parks, by the way. One of our camp sites in Lake Superior Provincial Park was a gorgeous little island. Not just on an island, mind you. The actual island. The whole thing. Sadly, it turned out to be somewhat less, um, isolated than a couple celebrating their first anniversary might be inclined to hope, but that's a different story altogether. One I will not be getting into on a public blog.
Where was I?
Oh yes. We were inveterate outdoorsmen/women. We had the skills, we had the experience, we had the equipment.
Then we had children.
I can now report that we have an entirely new understanding of what roughing it actually entails.
Roughing it is not going without indoor plumbing.
Roughing it is standing around at 3 a.m. dangling your bare-bottomed, just-potty-trained 3 year old over some shrubbery that you pray to the good lord isn't poison ivy, trying to explain why it's okay just this once to pee on the ground.
Roughing it is not sleeping in a tiny, two-person tent small enough to fit in a backpack.
Roughing it is sharing a cavernous Coleman 6-man tent that barely fits in the back of your station wagon with a 5 year old that somebody fed s'mores until she was ping-ponging off the walls like a demented, DEET-scented monkey.
Roughing it is not sleeping on the ground in twenty degree weather.
Roughing it is sleeping on the ground in a stifling tent in 85 degree heat with your 18 month old (aka The Heater) draped over your crotch because that's where she finally fell asleep & you would rather die of heat stroke than deal with her if she wakes up.
That said, we had a great weekend. It took us approximately 8 hours to prep for 16 hours in the Great Outdoors, & my eldest daughter's mosquito bites are now the stuff of family legend (how does one kid slathered in DEET get thirty bites on one leg??) but the kids are already asking when we get to go again.
We're thinking canoes this time.
May god have mercy on us.
How about you? Are you a camper or does the thought of sleeping outdoors give you hives? What was your most memorable family vacation? When was the last time you truly felt like you were roughing it?