Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camping: Oh! The things we did see!

I can honestly say that camping was a real eye-opening experience!  Let me tell you - we saw things this past weekend that we NEVER thought we'd see while camping!  We had a great time with our friends, and enjoyed a relaxed time away from home. We forgot a few things that we have put on a list for 'next time', and we learned once again that it's always good to 'pack' an extra measure of grace when leaving home. 

God provided a lovely weekend weather-wise, and we all came home safe and sound, so that was a blessing.

Now, you'll have to keep in mind that it's been over twenty years since I went camping!  It took me that long to nag convince the Historian that it was a good idea!!!  I have great early memories of tenting with my Uncle and Aunt in Champlain Park and traveling with my parents around the Georgian Bay in a runabout boat and tenting on the shores.  My parents had two orange canvas dome style tents - my sister and I called them 'the gum drop tents' and we tented all along the Trent Severn Waterway one summer.  When we were a bit older, Dad and Mum bought a larger boat that we could sleep in and we explored many lakes in Ontario.  As a teen I went on many out trips from summer camp, some hiking and many by canoe, almost always involving one or more portage.  Most of the time I was a camper, but later on, after many leadership training trips, I helped guide younger campers on out trips. We had some adventures!

I had entirely different expectations for this little weekend family adventure.  First, we had reserved a wee cabin.  It was clean and cute as a button, but hot and airless even with all of the windows open. We forgot our fan - it was a last minute grab that I didn't put on the 'master list', so that was a shame.  It was too hot for Storyteller to sleep up on the top bunk which was supposed to be a huge 'privilege' for him.  I could hear him up there panting and puffing and I invited him to share the double bunk with me.  He came down, dripping with sweat and in his sleepy stupor and gravelly voice said ' I'm just throwing out numbers here Momma, but it's at LEAST 15 degrees cooler down here' and he promptly fell asleep! Sadly, he was the only one who slept!

Dreamer made her bed and her 'teen' sized sleeping bag just barely fit - these bunks weren't made for the big and tall crowd, but we managed! At least, no one hit the floor!  As far as sleeping went, well, we didn't!

We had a very large family occupying the two cabins next to us and they were up very very late - they quieted down around 3 AM - except for the baby.  I've never heard a baby cry quite like their baby - the next morning I was telling our friends how at first I thought there was a cat fight going on - until I realized they were comforting a fractious baby.  Later, the Historian mentioned that he thought there was a cat next door - until he realized it was the baby - so it wasn't a sleep deprivation illusion! Just about 4:30 AM the Historian made a trip to the restrooms and found our neighbors were still up - playing video games on a t.v. hooked up in their van. We never thought we'd see that while camping!

The next night was better because the campground host came by at 11pm and asked them to be considerate of other campers, so they shut down the party at 1pm, but of course, they still had the baby.  The folks in the deluxe cabin across from us also had a late night party which was quite loud. Hmm.  I went home with bags under my eyes and a greater appreciation for our quiet neighborhood.

We did remember to bring our folding table which was a blessing since we needed a 'kitchen' area.  It worked out really well. We 'hosted' two meals at our little cabin side picnic table and contributed to the other meals, and our friends 'hosted' the other three meals at their quieter, cooler trailer site down by the water. We had way too much food, but it was all good!
Speaking of food, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see a FRY DADDY on our camping trip, but the crowd next door feasted on fresh deep fried chicken! The lady cut up many whole chickens, dredged them and fried them up right on the picnic table. The next morning she made fresh donuts in the same deep fat fryer!

I never thought we would see a 42" flat screen t.v. on our camping trip either, but there it was, lighting up the night as we traveled to the bathrooms for our nightly visits.  Yes, I did use the 's' there on purpose.  There is something about being 400' from the nearest washroom to make a little boy ... um ... nervous.  We went at least twice before bed and once in the night.  Maybe it was the novelty of the giant t.v.?

Speaking of the bathrooms, my definition of CAMP NAILS was radically re-defined on the first day at camp, in the bathrooms.  Two ladies were chatting about their camp nails, and naturally, I was curious.  Fancy tent pegs?  A new style of hot dog skewer?  I was washing my hands and glanced over just as one woman explained that she had gone to her nail airbrush artist that afternoon to get on her camp nails - which were 1" long manicured nails with tiny pictures of trees, cabins, bears and beer bottles.  Ahhhh.  Camp nails.  I remember when camping did not require a manicure - in fact, it was the fastest way to ruin one!

Sadly, another trip to the restrooms was the source of a terrible 'first sighting'.  It was a loud and angry domestic dispute by the owners of the giant t.v..  It was frightening and horrible and right in the middle were these two precious children - one in a car seat and one just being buckled in.  My friend Mrs.S and I took in the whole sad scene, but our children were completely oblivious to the disturbance, which was a puzzling blessing.  Puzzling, because they don't see that kind of behavior modeled in our homes, and they don't see it on t.v., since both families are NOT t.v. watchers.  The children  were just in their own little world of playing, talking and laughing - and really it was a blessing because it was extremely disturbing.  The mom drove off with the children and the man just shook his head and started throwing stuff in their fire pit.

We enjoyed the rest of the time, though I must admit the lack of sleep made for a pretty un-energetic time for our family.  We managed to get a little bit lost, explore a 'new' place for our family, play on an amazing new play structure, go for walks in a lovely setting,  see a beautiful colt, play in a big play barn, eat hot dogs cooked over the fire, play games, find some clay and make sculptures which were fired in the ashes, eat a yummy foil dinner cooked over the coals, swat a thousand tiny little flies that didn't bite but were getting on our nerves, make the best s'mores ever with dark chocolate, enjoy canoe trips on the river, spend quality time with friends, run, laugh, share some stories, have pancakes and sausage cooked outdoors, and meander home after a relatively painless pack up and tidy up!  We left our cabin and campsite cleaner than when we came, and took only our happy memories with us!

Which means I didn't break quite all of the camping 'rules', Dreamer!

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  1. Mewmories of your early "brownie" camping experiences have come just recently as "Camp Caritou" and other Guiding Camps are being closed. Laurie Hubberd is one of the guiders protesting the closing. And yes, we enjoyed camping as a family very much. Things sure have changed.

  2. Wow!!! Your camping story is quite entertaining!!! I can't imagine frying chickens and donuts at camp!! Oh my! well, at least the smoke wouldn't smell up your home. The camp nails is HILARIOUS! I must try to get my kids to experience camping at some point.


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