It's far from glamorous, this camping thing. A tent in the woods, gravel and dirt creeping in despite the no shoes in the tent rule. Waking far too early because the summer sun arrives at an ungodly hour. Packing and repacking everything for every meal because there are bears and you can't leave food out. Not showering for days. Camping.
And I love it.
No glamping here. Just an overstuffed car and lots of dirt. But there is fire and marshmallows and exploring shorelines and bugs and late nights. And fire, camp fire all the time.
I can't deny the stress of getting ready for the trip. We have all our gear organized and it is always ready to just grab out of the garage. But I still have to get all the food and everyone's clothes. That always takes a few hours. Then my Hubby plays a game of car tetris to get everything in the car. And we argue about snacks and how many extra things the girls try to bring.
Then we drive. And the drives are always gorgeous. We spend half the time stressing to the kids how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful and awesome country. I stitch in the car, we relish the silence when the kids all miraculously doze at the same time. We curse the tourists stopping to take pictures of wildlife because they are always too close to the animals.
And then we arrive. It takes longer to set up now because the kids help, but they enjoy making things just so. And we're dirty before we even can think about it. And the maniac behaviour begins as tree branches become everything but, fairies are discovered in the forest, and frisbees come out. Then the fire starts and the begging for marshmallows begins. And I give in, because why not.
I must admit, I was terrified when we geared up last year and committed to this family activity. I loathe sleeping with my kids. (I love them dearly, but not in my bedroom.) But in the woods it doesn't matter. They sleep hard and deep. And when they wake us up too early in the morning I enjoy their whispers, until they grow into tickles and shrieks. The whole experience has been amazing. It far exceeded my expectations.
When we camp we bring no crafts for the kids, only a few activity books and things like balls and frisbees. We encourage them to explore the area around us, when we aren't hiking or trying something else.
We talk and watch and listen. To the woods, to each other.
We sit so still so the butterflies land on our feet.