My husband is great at remembering things the way he wants to remember them. He has a knack for forgetting the bad parts. That can be a wonderful skill to have, but in this case, I need to remind him before I’m subjected to the torture of one last camping trip.
We used to take our kids camping a lot. It was the best we could do on a nonexistent travel budget.
We thought we were prepared. We’d pile the kids in the car and head out on a Friday night full of excitement and expectation.
About a half an hour after arriving at our destination, the "fun" would begin. It started like this - my husband and I would be arguing about which tent pole went where. The kid assigned to hold the flashlight for us (did I mention we were trying to pitch a tent in complete darkness?) was always shining it everywhere but where we needed it. They heard a sound in the trees or just wanted to blind their sister. It always took at least two tries to set the tent up correctly.
He doesn’t remember taking hours to get the fire going. The one we needed to cook dinner. That we’d finally give up and eat anything we could eat raw that wouldn’t kill us. He doesn’t remember trying to sleep with a rock poking him in the back or trying to ignore the wild animal noises just outside the tent.
One time it rained so hard our tents were nearly washed out into the lake. The six of us, plus one wet dog, spent the rest of the night in the car. It was pretty funny, though, when the ranger came around to check on us, frantically searching our collapsed tents for survivors.
The first morning, we’d wake up sore, hungry and dirty. No time for showers when it took all those hours to unpack and set up a very temporary home.
Our day would start with a hot breakfast. I don’t know why food always tasted extra good when you’re camping. We’d hike, play with the kids, finally away from the TV. We’d make up games, fish, and skip rocks. I guess that part was pretty fun.
The second night we'd have our stuff together. We'd get the fire going early and something delicious cooking. We’d eat outside, watching the sun set. Everyone would have their own poking stick when we sat around the fire. We’d look up into the stars and try to name the constellations.
When it was the kid’s bedtime, we’d gather in the tent to tell a bedtime story. It was too dark to read so we’d make up our own. One person would start with a few words then point to the next person. They would add a few more words and we'd keep going around the circle . We’d laugh so hard our stomaches would hurt.
Once the kids were in their sleeping bags, my husband and I would sit by the fire for hours. We'd talk about how lucky we were to have such great kids, how beautiful the stars were, how peaceful it was.
The second night was the best. We’d all sleep like babies, well-fed, clean and exhausted from a day of physical activity.
Now that I think about it, I guess camping was pretty great after all. Maybe we could go again, just one last time.