10. Short drive. It was only an hour and a half drive to this lovely campground This left just enough time for about four "Are we there yet?" questions. Coincidentally that is about the maximum number we allow in our vehicle before adults start to raise their voices, roll their eyes and/or eject small children from the vehicle.
9. Swimming. Even in the hills, it is HOT this time of year. Lake Britton was our saving grace.
8. Camping cabins. OK, in all honesty I must tell you we didn't actually camp in a tent. Some (my Dad, to be exact) would argue that this doesn't really qualify as camping. In our defense, they were rustic cabins that consisted of four walls and bunk beds. No electricity, no water, no furniture. The layers of dirt on my children's faces should prove that we did, in fact, have a camping experience. And really, since my parents just signed papers to purchase their very own RV, I think they have officially become ineligible to pass judgment on what qualifies as "real" camping.
7. We all unplugged. We are a modern family, with our fair share of technology addiction. But when you're surrounded by relatives in the middle of the woods, it seems appropriate to leave it all behind. And so we did. For the most part. I read a book on my Kindle at night. Someone snuck in a few games of Solitaire on his iPhone. The teenager of the family listened to music on her iPod in the car. But for two days, we were generally unplugged. And it was good.
6. Grandparents. With six adults and three kids, I think we got the adult/kid ratio just about right. There was time to relax, talk, cook, play games, and drink wine. If a few adults got tired and needed a nap, there were a few spares around to supervise the kiddos.
5. Cake. One grandma happened to have a birthday coming up. Since we were all together anyway, it seemed appropriate to celebrate while we were camping. Naturally, my mom made cake!
4. My husband loves me. While we were dating, my husband was deployed to Iraq for 14 months. He lived in a tent with stinky boys in a hostile combat zone for the majority of that time. He is DONE with camping. But he humors us occasionally and goes along with all the madness that is camping with the family. So, to me, camping feels a little like Valentine's day. It's the time he goes out of his way to do something just because he knows I like it.
3. Dough boys. Growing up, the campfire tradition in my family was not S'mores. It was dough boys. I'm not sure if this is a common camping "thing". To make a dough boy, you take canned biscuit dough, wrap it around the end of a long stick (whittled clean of bark, about the thickness of your thumb), and roast it slowly on the campfire. It doesn't sound like much, but it's super delicious. Particularly if you are a kid (or a kid at heart). When you pull the dough boy off the stick, you have a biscuit tube that can then be filled with butter, jelly, peanut butter or whatever your heart desires. On this trip, we got creative and used canned cinnamon roll dough instead of the plain biscuit dough. This new twist got rave reviews all around.
2. Dirt. Camping is really all about dirt, particularly if you are under the age of six. And we got plenty of it. The kids had permanent dirt smudges on any exposed skin. The white socks quickly turned brown. We washed hands that stayed clean for exactly 3.2 seconds. Yet somehow we managed to come home with more clean clothes than dirty. I packed lots of extra clothing for the kids, knowing they would relish the dirt factor. But, I guess I underestimated my comfort level with them being dirty. Instead of changing their clothes every time they rolled in the dirt, I just carried on with my day. They are just going to get dirty again anyway!! What's the point? So we embraced the dirt. And the dirty kids. And now I have less laundry to do. Win, win.
1. So much fun, we couldn't pick a favorite. When we asked our 4-year old about her favorite part of camping this weekend, she couldn't narrow it down to just one. "Four things!" she immediately said when we asked her to name the best part. "1. Going to see the waterfall. 2. Sleeping on the top bunk. 3. Playing with sister 4. Waking up in the morning and eating breakfast outside."
And there you have it. The reviews are in. Camping = Joy!