I’ve written about camping with kids frequently. But then I thought: Wow, I sure have painted a sunshine and roses picture of camping, haven’t I? So in the interest of full transparency, here’s the flip side of camping…
So apparently I have selective amnesia whenever it’s time to plan a family trip like camping… that or I just love travel in theory but not in practice? That can’t be it. The Excel spreadsheets of our trip plans, packing lists, and menus can’t be wrong. Can they?
But the bad thing about camping is… ACTUALLY GETTING THERE!
You’ll probably be forty-five minutes down the road when you realize you forgot your hiking boots, so you turn around and the trip just seems endless.
Or. You arrive at your campsite at dinnertime and hubby has to set up the tent alone (not that you’d be any help at all because remember assembly makes you break out into hives?), so you try to keep the kids from dying of hunger but the cooler got packed underneath all the gear (which seemed like a good idea at the time…)… and that’s the kind of night you end up in tears sitting on the picnic table in the dark at nine-thirty at night wishing for ruby red slippers… because you just realized you’re eight hours away from home where you left the bag of diapers and sunscreen AND your swimsuit on your beach camping trip. Which is when for possibly the first time in your life you MIGHT be grateful for a big box store. Except you’re on an island. So good luck finding a swimsuit that wouldn’t land you right on a reality TV show.
And the other bad thing about camping is… THE WEATHER!
When (not if!) it rains (which is invariably every night WE go camping, so if you just don’t plan a trip at the same time as us, you should be safe!), all your children will want to pile onto your air mattress. Which then deflates to the point that you feel like you’re on a water bed. Which is nearly true because it’s raining with flash flood warnings (not that you’d know because you don’t have cell signal), and when you put your foot down on the floor of the tent, it bubbles so you realize there’s like a mini Colorado River running right beneath your tent.
Which is when you start thinking you could really apply to be on Get Out Alive! or some other reality show about suburbanites who should’ve never been let off the freeway.
Then you wake up to the birds chirping and the sun shining and you forget all over again…
How the bad thing about camping is… THE DIRT!
Nothing is ever clean, especially not when the previous campers were probably chain smokers (in the forest? Really? Don’t they know about Smokey the Bear’s pointing finger ONLY YOU…!?). So even though you were all prepared to “let them be dirty,” (as the older, wiser, neighboring campers with grown up children advises), suddenly some dirt seems dirtier than dirt, and then the baby grabs a handful and eats it. Which requires a full body scrub down and change. For the baby, too.
But then you remember… camp bathrooms aren’t. exactly. clean. either. Unless of course you’re in a nicer state park where they have coin-op bathrooms (which for some reason makes them a notch cleaner than most private campground bathrooms I’ve visited???). Then you’re happy to trot off to the bathroom with your toiletry bag and a roll of quarters where you find yourself in a lengthy debate about whether you should spent 50 cents for the five minute shower or $1.00 for the ten minute shower.
And you try to estimate how long your showers at home usually take. So you opt for the 75 cent seven-and-a-half minute shower (yes, a half minute!). And you can’t help notice the machine says “up to fifteen quarters,” and as you rush through your seven-and-a-half minutes, of which you discover you really only needed six so you just stand there waiting for the water to shut off because how can you waste water you paid an extra quarter for, you idly dream of someday having a fifteen quarter shower. Now that would be something.
Standing in the 2×4 space that is the camp shower, you pretty much forget that…
Another bad thing about camping is… YOU LIVE IN A TENT!
On the ground. Where you’ve crammed four people and five days worth of living into a 10×12 space and are supposed to be thrilled by this:
And you can almost see the giant rock under the minuscule floor space we have left.
And you’re supposed to forget the stainless steel kitchen and front-loading washer/dryer you left behind and enjoy cooking al fresco here:
But after all, hubby does make great camp breakfasts.
Camping. It’s not all Walden Pond. But sometimes it is… See?
Which is why…
The REALLY bad thing about camping is… you tend not to remember the not-so-fun parts. Or when you do, they somehow seem very humorous. Just not at the time…
If you’ve never been camping before, definitely don’t let this discourage you – you’ll note that I keep.doing.it! We do have fun times, great memories, and our kids are growing up enjoying camp life. Although next time I’m definitely treating myself to a fifteen quarter shower.
(NOTE: these misadventures are a conglomerate of several camping trips we’ve taken. Had they been all from one trip I’m not sure I’d be putting together complete sentences anymore).
Tell me your tall tales from camping life!