Life

Worth the Sweat and Hard Work

Camping is not for everyone.

You must be willing to get dirty, to be sweaty, to take showers in different, sometimes bug-infested places and to show body parts to strange people while pretending that walking around in a towel in front of women you’ve never seen in your life before and will most likely never see again, is all perfectly commonplace.

But camping? DOES it for me. And my family? LOVES it.

Which is really odd for me to say because though I’m not exactly a “prissy” sort of girl, I don’t care to get dirty. I DON’T enjoy gardening, on any level. Why? Because I can’t stand the thought of having dirt under my fingernails or possibly running the pads of my fingers over a cold, slimy worm. In fact, I don’t enjoy any sort of outdoor work mainly because I can’t stand that outdoorsy smell that clings to your skin and clothes when you come back in.

I don’t swim in lakes because of the fishy, moldy, NASTY lake smell and the fact that you’re swimming in pond scum and God knows what else. And I can barely stand to wade into the ocean because when seaweed wraps it’s slick fingers around my legs it makes me gag and feel all … icky (how’s that for an original adjective?).

And yet, I’m okay with camping.

Go figure.

Camping is A LOT of work. It’s a lot of work to prepare our camper – soak the fold-down canvas beds with waterproof solution, check, and patch any leaks, replace a faulty faucet, tear out soaked cardboard and insulation because the caulk on one of our seams had aged and cracked and it leaked, air up the tires, make sure the propane tanks have enough gas, the brakes on our camper are working properly (this was especially important when we went camping in Colorado last year), blahblahblah.

And then, packing the thing with clothes, bedding, towels, food (we’ve learned that buying our perishable food when we reached our destination is SO MUCH EASIER than stressing about whether it’s staying cold in a cooler the whole trip), cooking utensils, cookery, plastic forks, spoons, knives, dish soap, paper towels, coffee maker, coffee mugs (I almost always forget coffee mugs), entertainment …. and on and on.

In essence, when you pack a camper, you’re furnishing a small house – it’s time consuming, back-breaking and really sweaty work hauling stuff back and forth between the house and the camper – both coming and going.

And yet, we do it, several times a year … and we enjoy it.

Well, me and the boys enjoy it; I think the husband just tolerates it because of me.

The camping bug usually bites me in mid-summer. I don’t care camping in the spring because my guys have allergies and the few times we’ve camped in the spring, it’s been a miserable experience for them – so we don’t.

By mid-summer, I don’t know, I just yearn to be outdoors, to appreciate nature, to breathe in that fresh air you only get when you leave the city, to hear the nature creatures and insects you can only hear when you’re away from the buzz of the city. It’s soothing, it’s peaceful, it’s rejuvenating.

But if I EVER talk about going camping at the end of July/first of August again, you have my permission to reach across cyber space and flick me on the forehead.

For those just tuning in, we went camping this past weekend – in 100 degree weather. Wow. It was not only hot (which I can handle), but it was stuffy and unbearable (which I can not handle). This past weekend was a heat wave. And to make matters even more uncomfortable, there was no wind. None. Walking outside was like trying to breathe through a blanket. The air was heavy, thick and moist. Within minutes of being outside, your skin beaded with moisture and felt clammy and unnatural.

In essence? It was miserable camping weather. We’ve camped when it’s been hot before, but not anything like this. The skies were clear, the atmosphere was hazy and people walked around liked zombies because it was simply too much of an effort to be anything more.

So, we didn’t venture outside our air conditioned camper very often. We sat around and read, played games and watched movies, and we were perfectly okay with that. We wanted a brief getaway where we did … nothing. We had no agenda. We had no desire to get out and see the sights because we’ve seen them a million times before. (We camped in Branson for the like the umpteenth time). We simply wanted to get away and … breathe, a chance to catch our breath and focus on just being together.

I think the boys really like camping because the husband and I pay attention to them. The husband and I enjoy camping with the boys because they actually acknowledge our existence. We get so caught up and distracted with other things and responsibilities at home, that we often find ourselves co-existing, and not much more.

I bought some of those cheesy plastic ball lights that you string up along your awning. We’ve always wanted them but just never got around to buying them in the past. We strung those lights up and one night, we oiled our skin up with insect repellent and sat outside together under those lights. It was a comfortable, companionable silence, the silence that you typically experience with people you’re around a lot.

And then something wonderful happened – the boys began talking.

If you are, or have ever been, a parent of a teenager, then you’ll know that when these “talk” sessions happen, you savor every minute of it. It’s hard enough to communicate with your teenager at the best of times, but it’s certainly a rarity if they VOLUNTEER information about themselves or what they’re thinking.

We sat around and had a really good chat. They talked, and we listened. We asked them questions, and they actually answered them, honestly. It was an insightful and rewarding pow-wow with our sons. We caught a glimpse of the men they were becoming and we were quite pleased with what we saw.

We have been blessed with some truly great kids.

We spent the majority of our time playing a board game. It’s called Blokus and in essence, it’s a reality-based Tetras game. You can only place your pieces on the corner of your own colored pieces and when you run out of places you can place your tiles, you count up how many squares you have remaining and the person who has the least squares, wins.

Blokus - New Board Game

We really had a great time playing that game. It’s a strategy THINKING game (as opposed to all of those RPG shoot-first-ask-questions-later games the boys are in to), and we shared quite a few laughs trying to outwit each other. I think MK might have won the most games, which doesn’t surprise me, he is the linear thinker in the family (well, he and the husband – they are two peas in a pod). GD and I held our own, though. (Translation: We weren’t TOTALLY boring to play. 😀 )

See this happy, relaxed smile?

Blokus Craze

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like about camping: the easy camaraderie, the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to be together and enjoy each other.

It makes all the sweat and hard work seem insignificant in comparison.