It struck me on my billionth trip to the bathroom as we walked by the different sights what an odd excursion camping in camp sights really is. Here you have loads of people, most of whom I am sure have great homes with yards and indoor plumbing and kitchens, who leave all of that to pack up a load of things and reside in the sticks. We somehow don't mind living around all sorts of people with no walls but trees separating us. We share bathrooms with them, walk straight out of bed as we are, and thus live our temporary lives in the woods with strangers.
And yet, nothing quite compares with it. Nature, meeting new people, roasting food over a fire,
nature, sleeping miserably (oh wait!), strong coffee in the morning, nature, and seeing this strange excitement passed onto your kids.
Of course, regular hygiene and cleanliness are sort of thrown out the window as well. It is somehow okay to wipe plates clean rather than wash them or pour water into a cup and swish whatever was drank previously before pouring in the next camp refreshment. Even the most health conscience among them will submit to the traditional hot dog...or at least will give them to her children. :) "Marshmallows at 10:00am? No problem." "Oh...just pick that bug right off of your sandwich." "Dirt never hurt you."
Yes, yes, yes. Such is camping.
Now, I have had several people call us brave. The ones who really say what they mean call us crazy. Nonetheless, we took our troop along with the Arthur clan this past weekend and it was all camping is cracked up to be with two six year olds, two almost four year olds, and three 1.5 year olds. Originally we had reserved two sights but upon arriving realized that we really only needed one. Some passers by attempting to find a sight were much obliged to use ours in an otherwise "full" campground. Or at least they were at first. They watched us with curiosity, probably wondering just how relaxing it could be with so many kids while we watched them wondering how many inanimate objects the two of them could film (eggs cooking, fire burning, trees, etc.)
The weekend started off rather late as it was a bit further than
we expected. Camp got set up, however, and dinner was had. Following which I received a call from the park ranger informing us that four small animals were lost in the woods...right around
OUR camp sight! The boys set to work to find them at once. Max found an injured bird, Jake a baby deer, Dominic came across a white lamb (who would later be a lovely shade of gray-brown) and Aidan cautiously rescued an alligator. Memories came flooding back of our childhood camping days as they set to work to build houses in the grass and moss. This is what childhood is made of.
At first glance, we were a little disappointed at "Frog Lake" which appeared a muddy, swampy, squishy mess. And yet, we saw people running around in their swimsuits...so...?
The next day we decided to try it. How bad could it be? Well, not bad at all! I myself am a fan of moving water and am a little skeptical of stagnant lakes. But upon wading in, discovered that it wasn't bad at all. Besides, a person could walk yards and yards into the lake without getting wet above the waist. Very nice when seven small children are under the care of four adults. And although there were no frogs, there were thousands of tadpoles. Seriously. Swimming in black lines through the water, over and around feet, trying to escape the nets and cups. Sort of like a swimming with the dolphins experience. Except not. Cool nonetheless. We only lost a couple of waders when it was
announced that the people on shore "just caught two more snakes!"
There was also fishing. While the babies slept, the boys went with the men to "shore fish." They came back without fish, but each of them had a handcrafted stick pole complete with line and a sinker. And lots of smiles. And Janine and I had some much appreciated time to read our book club book, My Antonia.
Although the workload was heavy and although at times we wondered if the kids were having a good time, the memories of camping are something I just couldn't take away. At one point, Jake looked out through the trees of the campground to an area leading up to the lake and exclaimed "MOM! It's like a whole new world out here!"
That's right Jake. I agree.