Monday, July 18, 2011

Camping: Do You Love It?

Camping. An exhausting, American tradition. We are about to embark on our first camping trip of the 2011 summer season, and I’m dreading all the lists, packing, organizing, setting up of camp, taking down of camp, loading back up again, unloading it all back onto the floor of our washroom, and then starting to wash and clean it all to put it away for next year’s big trip.

Perhaps most of the burden falls upon the wives, the women of the campouts? I noticed tonight, reading Facebook, that post after post by the “mamas” of the houses read something like this, “Back from camping, exhausted.” Or, “Now the unpacking begins, just got back from camping.”

I find myself tensing in anticipation of my own weekend of exhaustion. I’ve already started making the lists. I have a camping supply list, food list, snack list, clothing list, beach toy list, and list of things I still need to buy for the trip. I should probably make a list of all the lists I need to write.

I already feel dirty and grimy. And am I the only one who gets a little constipated on these types of mini-vacations? It must be a mental block I have with pit toilets.
Then there is the sleep factor: I don’t get a lot. When I was younger, and much more limber, sleeping on the ground was almost comfortable, but not anymore. Also, our two-year-old is a wildman when he realizes we are all in the tent together. He gets so excited by all this family time that he bounds from sleeping bag to sleeping bag.

Last year, on our big group camping weekend, we were woken at midnight to the sounds and smells of vomit coming from our oldest. All night long I tried to vainly catch vomit in my pillow case as my son threw up over and over again. Several times I would hear the retching and dive across the tent only to realize it wasn’t him. Where was that sound coming from? The next tent over? Half of our camp group was violently ill. Is it bad that I was always relieved when the vomiting was happening in another tent?

I don’t think my husband realized all that was involved in a camping expedition. I usually get everything packed and loaded, leaving him with just a few things that require major, muscular lifting. He did get a glimpse last summer when I went away for the weekend and he decided to take the boys on a boys-only-campout. Of course, he started this endeavor at about four in the afternoon and was flabbergasted when he didn’t pull out of our driveway until 6 o’clock at night (finally packed and ready), and then even more flabbergasted when he drove in and out of campgrounds for the next two hours not finding a single site vacant. The tired, cranky boys roasted hot dogs in a day use area and then headed home to the backyard to pitch their tent. I unloaded everything once I returned the next day from my relaxing girl’s beach weekend.

Even though I’m expressing quite a lot of negative energy around this idea of camping, I still like it. I still like the family time. I still like the smell of the tent and the feel of the sleeping bags on my dirty toes. And there is nothing quite like swatting mosquitos around a campfire. Really. I keep telling myself that this is what we do as a family. This is how we make memories. And I am a fan of making memories. I think it is the campfire that keeps me coming back. I love sitting in our chairs next to friends and snuggling with my tired, dirty and stinky boys. I love the conversations, the stories. I love hot drinks in tin mugs. I love the memories we make as a family, the memories that we make between the loading and unloading, packing and unpacking. All that comes between the beginning and the end makes me feel like all my efforts are worth it. At least this is what I tell myself.


Jeremy and Ang said...

Is it awful to say that none of your fond musings seem very thrilling to me? I hate camping now. I have turned into a snotty diva...well, when it comes to the choice between camping and a hotel anyway. I do not like bugs. I do not like bug spray. I do not like dirt. I do not like perpetually smelling of campfire. For weeks after. I do not like going in a pit pot and having the cold breeze blowing up my backside while doing so. I do not like getting out of the tent 3 times a night to find said pit pot. And even though my garage is super organized with camping stuff tagged and labeled. I still do not like to camp. Jeremy is trying to convince me there is something nostalgic about the two of us camping again since our first trip was a rained out disaster. I do not remember anything i liked about it. Except the pizza place down the hill when we gave up trying to get our fire in the rain. In short. Even though camping makes memories...i think those memories for me are better left to others. Ha! I honestly can't think of one thing i like about camping anymore. Except maybe the chipmunks and squirrels. they are cute. =)

Paula Jean said...

I used to say, "Why do I want to go camping? I end up doing all the same things I do at home, except in a more trying environment." That said, we had lots of good memories camping while our kids were young (mostly elementary school age), especially after we bought a pop-up tent trailer. Being able to sleep on a foam mattress up off the ground made the difference for me. I miss it now. Our last real camping trip (w/the whole family) was two years ago to Diamond Lake/Crater Lake. So, make those memories, Rebekah!

Heather said...

I love camping, though it is so much work and there is only so much of it I can do. I agree that most (all) of the work usually fall on wives to get everything ready and packed. Along with the blame if anything is forgotten. Have a great time on your trip and I hope it is better than last years.

Jen Rouse said...

It absolutely does fall mostly on the women to get everything packed and unpacked. My husband may be the one who carries things to the car, but I'm the one who does the planning, prepping, shopping, list-making, etc. And that takes way more work than half and hour of loading up the car.

I still like camping...even though I did not give myself enough time to prep for this last camping trip and ended up forgetting crucial things!

Rebekah said...

This is making me feel much better, knowing I'm not the only woman who packs it all up. I would love to know if there are any cases out there of men who do most of the packing?

Anonymous said...

Jenel will NOT go camping.
Love you. hope to see you soon.