I love to camp. I grew up camping with my family and loving *almost* every minute of it. (There were those few times I had to use the potty in the night and was terrified of bears, rabid squirrels or intoxicated campers I might encounter.) We spent a lot of time planning our trips and some of my happiest childhood memories are camping with my family, even driving in the car to get to our camping destinations. That’s where we bonded, out in nature away from the distractions of home.
Dan does not so much love the camping. Dan camps because he loves me. We’ve gone a few times as a family and always managed to have cold or rainy weather and at least one crying baby along for the ride. Maybe I tried to start the tradition too soon. Maybe the kids are too young and maybe I should have waited until the absolute blazing hottest day of summer. I enjoy it even when it’s cold but Dan holds a grudge against the weather. I keep trying and I feel certain that once we get it right, Dan will be hooked on camping just like my family was.
The kids sure love it… when we’re setting up, when we’re playing in the sleeping bags or getting too close to fire, the next morning when they’re warm and dry in the car and all they can remember are all the good muddy things about camping and not the freezing and the wailing.
So every year since Magoo was born, I’ve tried to convince Dan to take him on the church Father and Son’s Campout. No dice. Magoo’s been too young. Dan’s been too uninterested. The mosquitoes have been too bad. But this year Dan decided to take the plunge. Magoo’s a strapping lad of 4 and a friend even offered to let them sleep in his tent so Dan and Magoo wouldn’t have to brave the wilderness alone.
The day of the campout, it rained off and on all morning. The men looked to the clouds and consulted weather websites and tried to decide if it was worth venturing out. In the end, we had a good cloud break and they decided to make an attempt. We packed gear. We tested flashlights. We loaded the car. As Dan and Magoo walked out of the house to head out for the night, the sheets of rain began to pour down in a well-timed liquid maelstrom.
Dan laughed as they got in the car and told me he’d see me in a few hours.
So the boys headed into the wilderness where under a camping shelter they made s’mores, sang camp songs and watched the older boys perform skits about bodily functions. Someone handed out glowsticks to all the giddy campers and at about 10:30, Dan and Magoo headed home to sleep where it was dry.
Laylee and I had been at a friends’ house having girl time and came home to find Magoo lying sleep-like in his bed, clutching a bright green glowstick as though he’d passed out after a rave. I leaned down to kiss him on the forehead and his eyes popped open. As did his mouth.
“Mom. We went camping and we had these glowsticks and they don’t even have batteries so you never have to turn them off and we were camping and they had s’mores and we made them and we put shmarshmallows into the fire and and and then we took some chocolate and some graham crappers and and we had the shmarshmallows and we took em and put em in or we just ate em and they were s’mores and we were camping.”
He gasped for breath, smiled contentedly and headed back toward sleep. I came downstairs and kissed Dan. “So Magoo’s up there in his bed, fully convinced that you and he just went ‘camping’.”
Dan grinned. “It was the warmest, driest, best camping trip ever.” And we headed up to bed.
I think they may even try it again next year.