Thursday, August 15, 2013

Backyard Camping

We have a junior camper on our hands. 

In spite of the fact that our family is headed up by a self-proclaimed "anti-camper", somehow our four-year old daughter has camping in her blood.  I'm guessing it comes from my side of the family. When I was a kid, summer meant three weeks on the road in the family station wagon enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of campgrounds across America. Our camping equipment consisted of an old canvas tent, a Coleman stove, and a ratty old trunk full of mis-matched dishes and Boy Scout cooking equipment. 

For three long weeks, my brother and I shamelessly lusted after the 30-ft RV's we saw on the road equipped with bunk beds, heat and indoor plumbing. 

Well, that isn't exactly true.  We had a great time tent camping.  We were dirty. We hiked.  We built pioneer forts, sang songs and ate junk food around the campfire.  We stayed up too late whispering secrets and ghost stories under our pillows in the tent as our parents pretended not to hear us. 

But we saw how the other half camped.  And we wouldn't have complained one bit if our parents suddenly decided to join the ranks of the RV owners (that we regularly ridiculed for not being "real" campers). 

So, back to our junior camper. 

About a year ago we took a little hike that happened to wander through a campground.  Our daughter saw the tents and was instantly infatuated.  "What are those tents for?" she asked.  Immediately followed by, "Can we do that? When can I sleep in a tent?" 

I don't really get it. I was raised on tent camping and the whole time I just wanted to steal someone's RV or sneak away to the nearest Motel 6 and take a dip in the pool.  Now we stay in hotels or rustic camping cabins with our daughter and all she wants to do is sleep in the dirt.  Go figure. 

As I often do with my kids' random requests, I filed this one away for future use.  Kids ask for a lot.  You have to listen carefully and be observant to separate the random passing fads from the true desires of their little hearts.  Generally when they ask for it at least ten times after the initial request, it's safe to assume they are dedicated to the cause.

Turns out the camping thing wasn't just a passing fad.  She was really interested.  She wanted to do it.  She kept asking. 

So, this weekend when the temps dropped into the mid 90's (faithful readers may notice an emerging trend of my tendency to be less sloth-like when it's not 105 degrees....) and the lows were hovering quite pleasantly in the high 60's, I took my little girl on a backyard camping trip.  We pitched the tent on the lawn, laid out some sleeping bags and got back to nature. 

You would have thought we were packing for Disneyland.  The buzz in the air was electric as we made repeated trips to the backyard to set up a proper "camp".  She danced and jumped around and giggled like a school girl waiting in line to meet Justin Bieber.  Seriously. All that craziness over the chance to sleep outside on the ground. Baffling. 

We read some books, played some games and settled in for our restful (?) evening of backyard camping.  As the 9pm hour approached and darkness began to descend on our rustic abode, the crickets began their noisy lullaby. 

"I'm never going to be able to sleep with all those LIZARDS!" she exclaimed as she rolled over to go to sleep. 

"Crickets, hon.  Those are crickets." I gently corrected her.  Something those RV campers probably know nothing about. 

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