When I was a teenager I loved camping. The excitement, the adventure, enjoying nature just as God made it. Getting away from it all.
Camping with kids is a completely different beast. First off, there is no “getting away from it all” when you take a dozen kids camping. Or one kid. It’s more like “taking it all with you“. Which simply isn’t nearly as fun.
And then there is the fact that as a mom I often spend more time preparing for and cleaning up after a camping trip, than the actual duration of the trip. When I camped as a teen, I just took a change of clothes, some extra socks and enough food for a couple of days (all comfortably loaded into my backpack).
Camping with kids is like mobilizing a small army for the front lines: fresh socks and undies for everyone (triple allotment for the last kid to have been potty trained). Diapers and pull-ups for those who still wet the bed at night. One pair of pajamas should suffice for the weekend except those aforementioned children who still wet the bed. Shoes and sandals for everyone. Don’t forget a fleece jacket and warm coat (in case it rains) and long johns for everyone. Water bottles and snuggle toys. Books, coloring books and colored pencils and music for the long drive.
And tents. As a teen one tent, one sleeping mat, one sleeping bag. Now? Anywhere from three to half a dozen tents, a dozen sleeping bags and mats. And blankets. And pillows. And extra for those who wet the bed.
And food. It takes a whole lot of food to feed this small army. When I was teen I never cooked anything while camping (I didn’t even heat water for Starbucks Via ready brew coffee). I was a vegetarian, so meat was out. I packed nuts and dried fruit and avocados and granola bars. None of these food required cooking or dishes. Clean up entailed stuffing the empty bag into the pocket of my pack. The evenings were spend sitting around the campfire, sharing stories, watching the sunset. It was heaven on earth.
With kids, it can be more like the other place on earth. I still spend the evenings sitting around the fire, but this time I am trying to make sure no one falls (or some years crawls) into it. I am often watching the sunset not to enjoy the splendor of creation, but because someone still. isn’t. asleep.
I still take trail mix and nuts and dried fruit. But now I also take: hot dogs, buns, condiments, juice, cookies, pasta salad, chips, peanut butter, jam, bread, eggs, sausage, cheese…the list is endless. And of course, of course s’more making supplies. You just can’t take kids camping without s’mores.
And speaking of s’mores, one of the first things i did when I arrived home last night was take a shower to, you know, wash the marshmallow out of the back of my hair. Never mind that I didn’t actually roast a single marshmallow all weekend. Nevermind that the only marshmallow I consumed was in s’more lovingly made for me by Avi. As we all know, sticky marshmallows at a campsite multiply like gremlins when you give them a little water.
The past two years we’ve had the pleasure of taking tube feeding supplies along with us. This includes: a fully-charged feeding pump, feeding bag for each night, clean syringes, extensions, a new mic-key button in case of emergencies, eight cans of formula. All kept clean and sanitary.
So why do it? I confess I have sometimes asked myself (and Chuck) that very question. But I know the answer. Happy memories. Fellowship. Triumph. Joy. A little pain. Difficult moments. These are all things that make us stronger as a family.