Friday, May 18, 2012

We're Going Camping This Summer...God Help Us

I grew up camping.  We took long family vacations to Yellowstone, the Smokey Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Maine, Boston, Mount Rushmore, Niagra Falls, Canada, Washington D.C., and many many other places.  We camped our way around the country.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Some trips were fun.  We saw beautiful scenery, learned new things, met new people, encountered new animals up close and personal (maybe a little too personal at Yellowstone when a buffalo left a deposit right in front of our tent), went whale watching and deep sea fishing, and had some quality family bonding times.

Other trips were not so fun.  We went to a water park and it rained.  We came home to find our tent in a heap sitting in the middle of a lake and had to take everything to the laundromat to dry it out.  Or the time we were in the Badlands and the wind was so strong that we thought the tent was going to collapse on us.  Or the time that we were hiking in the mountains and I slipped and almost plunged over a cliff.  Or the time that we were swimming in a river and I slipped and ended up falling over a (small) waterfall and my dad played the hero and went over the waterfall after me.

But by far the most memorable camping trip happened a few years ago.  Hubby and I used to go camping every summer with a group of our single (and then newly married) friends.  It had been a few years since we put a trip together due to increasing families.  But we really wanted to try to put together a couples' only vacation because we missed hanging out with our friends.  There were six couples in all.  We reserved our sites, set up camp, and had a great first day.  And then it rained.  And rained.  Some of our tents ended up sitting in the middle of a lake.  No one stayed dry.  We decided to spend the first day in town and went out for lunch and to a movie.

The second day it cleared up enough for us to be able to go swimming in Lake Michigan.  It almost made the weekend worth it.  Almost.  Because then...

We came home and were cooking dinner when the rain started up again.  It looked like a fireworks show was going on with all the thunder and lightening.  There we were in the middle of a pine tree forest with only tents and cars and no other shelter.  All of a sudden we heard a crack and half of a tree came crashing down right onto our neighbor's campfire.  The branch burst into flames!  Everyone came rushing over with their water jugs and wash bins to help douse the flames.  After the excitement was over, Hubby and I decided it was time to get in our car and drive somewhere a bit safer, or at least not surrounded by trees.  The power went out all over town.  Roads were completely blocked off due to downed trees and power lines.  To this day I'm not sure if an actual tornado ripped through or if it was just really strong wind.

Once the storm calmed down a bit, Hubby and I returned to camp and went in our tent to escape the rain.  Hubby was zipping up his side of the tent when the zipper broke, thus letting the rain into our tent.  That was the last straw.  We broke camp in less than a half hour and went home early.  I swore after that trip that I would never, ever tent camp again.

Fast forward three years and my kids have been begging us to take them camping this summer.  They make tents out of anything and everything and pretend they are camping.  I broke down and said yes but only if we could borrow a pop-up so that I didn't have to sleep in a tent.  Friends have generously agreed to lend us their camper.  Sleeping bags have been bought, old camping gear has been cataloged and tested, and a list of purchases has been made (flashlights, bug spray, more bug spray, propane for our gas stove, and more bug spray--you really can't have enough bug spray when camping in the middle of the woods).

It looks like we're really going to do this.  I hope that our first family camping experience doesn't turn my kids off to camping forever.  Now I just have to pray that I don't get cold feet between now and when we actually go.

1 comment:

  1. Cutter bug spray is $0.19 after coupons at Meijer this week. Just be careful, since not all Meijer stores realize that their coupon policy changed.