Family Camping, Come Rain or Shine
~By Homemaker Man
The rains came. And came, and came, and came. For three days, more on than off.
We recently camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the rain. The mist hung so heavy at night that our lantern cast my shadow 20 feet high against a canyon wall. The Saco River ran fast and cold. We were muddy. Our tent was muddy. Our sleeping pads were muddy. The dog was muddy. And the kids did not give one little shit.
They loved every minute of it. They played and played and played. In a way, it was easier than being at home. They never got bored. Never asked what they could do next. Just ran and played. They hunted for bugs and snakes and good marshmallow toasting sticks. They tried to poke each other with the red-hot ends of said sticks. They lost flip-flops in the river and skin on the stones and did not care.
One morning when it was raining like the end of the world and it was cool and we were tired, the eldest, my five year-old girl, said she missed our cat and our home. Then we went out and got her a chocolate munchkin and everything was fine again.
Before this summer, I hadn’t been camping in 25 or so years. The last time I went camping I got poison ivy and fell off of a dirt bike, so I was not a fan. I do like hiking, though. I like the mountains and the trees and nature. I like the feeling of getting to the top of a peak and taking in the view. I like how hungry I am for lunch and how every time you find a tiny waterfall or a glowing red gem of a mushroom cap you feel like you’re the only one who has ever seen it. I like that stuff.
I also love showers and soft beds and TV. My idea of a good time in the mountains is a day hike followed by a shower, dinner at a local restaurant, and snuggling into a warm bed at a cute inn with a better than average free breakfast. I like the outdoors and everything that goes with it. It’s just that I like the indoors at least as much. More if there’s a heated pool. Then kids came and grew and the whole “they change your life” thing keeps fucking happening.
This summer we camped twice. The first time was for two days and the second was for about five, including travel time. And I have to say that I’d do it again. The kids love the great outdoors without reservation. They lose their shoes and their civilized boredom at the non-existent door.
So what the hell? If I’m being honest, all that rain provided some serious “fuck this, we’re a family and we won’t be beaten by the rain” bonding moments. Especially when other families in the campground started to cut and run due to the weather and we found ourselves almost alone: “Run rabbits! This here family doesn’t give a damn,” is what we essentially said as a clan, though it was news to me. Bugs, packing, and the setting up and taking down of the tent stress be damned. Come hell or somewhat high water, lock your backyard gates because we are camping family now. I think.
Homemaker Man writes about life as a stay-at-home dad at Musings from the Big Pink.