I know many of you do not, and that’s perfectly fine.
If, however, the aversion is due to a poor experience involving bad food, wild mosquitos, rocks under your pillow, and meth lab public restrooms, I’d like to show you the other side of the camping world. It’s not all bad. Promise.
I’m a tent-camper. When I was single and carefree, that meant a super awesome expedition-ready tent that weighed less than my toothbrush. We’d hike in all our food and gear, sleep with no neighbors, and explore until work called us back.
Now that I’m married and have 2 kids (Excuse me, what?), I’m a car camper. We passed the cool tent on to my folks and bought one that weighs more than our car. Almost. Car camping simply means you camp in a campground that is accessible by your vehicle… usually with a million other people close by, all with the same intentions of peace, hot dogs, and fresh air. I was sad to let my backpacker years go, but I this meant I could finally buy a tent I could stand up in. No more changing whilst lying down. It’s awesome.
Curt also grew up tent-camping, which means at least 2 annual trips are mandatory. One is over the 4th of July or Labor Day with the as much extended family as possible sharing a group site. This trip involves much laughter, less food duties, and multiple tired cousins at any given time. The other trip is usually just us… one year in Michigan, one year exploring somewhere new.
We usually camp for 4+ days. Since my husband is an engineer, this means we have to have a spreadsheet. Here’s our camping list [click]… it changes as needed with the destination and length of stay, but it’s extensive so there are no last-minute trips to the camp store for $5 milk.
I am in charge of clothes for me and the kids as well as the kitchen supplies. Curt packs his own clothes, the car/trailer, and major gear. Each person gets a rubbermaid container for their clothing. The kitchen has a dry box (for cereals and bread and peanut butter and all that) as well as 2 coolers… one for drinks and one for everything else. The boy comes home from a Friday of work, finishes off the car and trailer, and we hit the road.
When we arrive, the tent goes up first. We’ve found that each child you bring along adds 31 minutes to your set up. Our tent takes about 12 minutes to go up. With Rylie and Gus, um, at least 45 minutes.
Where is the pole bag? Rylie has it. I need it.
Where is the last stake? Rylie has it. I need it.
Where is the lantern? Rylie has it. *sigh*
Once the tent is up, Ry and I stand inside while Curt throws us our sleeping bags, pillows, and clothes boxes. This is a hilarious 10 minutes.
I set out our kitchen gear… stove on the end, kitchen box under the table, cooler on the bench to the right. Curt collects fire wood. Rylie gets unbelievably dirty and will get a bath in the kitchen washtub before bed time. Gus… Gus is either attached to me or sleeping or attached to me sleeping. The whole ordeal or getting situated takes an hour. We’ve done it many times together and really don’t have to think about it much anymore. It just happens.
I love it. I love the simplicity of it. I love that your cell phone doesn’t always work. I love that we all get to sleep together. I love that Ry gets so excited. I love that we eat real food. I love having a fire every night and reading while the kids are sleeping. I love that the normal everyday chores are forgotten. I love that we eat on real plates (the fun melamine kind that are a $1 at the grocery) with real silverware (a combined set from when we were both single). Everyone washes the dishes and then we walk to the camp store for ice cream. Yum.
Someday, I imagine buying a little 2-person airstream trailer for just me and Curty. No set up… just roll in and go. But for now, this system works just fine for us. It gets us out to see our world a little more (and a little cheaper). Ry’s first trip was out West at 9 months. Gus Man hit Platte River* this past 4th of July at 4 months. We start ’em young out here at TexasNorth.
* My favorite area in Michigan is Platte River. There are countless day trips, a great river tube float into Lake Michigan, a drive in movie, pizza galore, and some serious junk antique shops all within 30 miles. AND, their bathrooms are clean and fully stocked with tp. If you’re a hesitant camper, this is a great place to try out. Call me. We’ll take you.