Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With Camping

Having gone camping this weekend, camping is on my mind.  It wasn't a great trip, sadly.  We got the tent up just before it began to rain and then took a drive to wait it out.  The rest of the afternoon was great.  We had blue skies and made a lovely fire (over which we made pizza pudgie pies...  NOM!).  But just as we were finishing dinner, it started to rain again.  That was around 8 or 8:30.  It rained on and off for the rest of the night.  Every time we thought it had stopped, we'd hop out of the car and sit by the fire for a minute before getting hammered again.

Around 2 AM, we got woken up (OK, Zach got woken up; I hadn't fallen asleep yet) by a park ranger because bad storms were coming our way.  We got to spend about 30 minutes in the men's bathroom with 6 other adults, two dogs (Maxi was one) and twin 3-month-olds (who were, thankfully, pretty quiet at that point).  After we got the OK to head back to camp, I just read until I was so tired I physically couldn't stay awake.  Even then, I couldn't get comfortable.  Ugh.

You'd think I'd be used to this by now, but no.  To put it nicely, I didn't grow up in a camping family.  (Actually, that's a hell of an understatement, but we'll go with it for now.)  My mom's idea of 'roughing it' when I was growing up was a motel without cable (which has since been upgraded to a hotel without room service).  Sure, Mom used to go "camping" with me as a Girl Scout, but only when it involved sleeping indoors on a mattress or bed.  The one time I went camping with my dad (for a Father's Day outing), the two of us slept in a tent so big it had room for two separate cots AND a generator so we could have a fan at night. Being slightly more outdoorsy, Dad and I actually went canoeing in the morning (because my parents owned a canoe, though I still don't know why, since that's the only time it has been used in my lifetime).

I had my first tent experience when I was about 6.  I had been going to a day camp with a few other Girl Scouts and on the last night, we got to stay over in the field next to the Girl Scout office.  I quickly learned two things.  The first is that spiders love tents, which made me terrified of the tent itself (after someone took all the visible spiders off, I was able to go into the tent, but didn't get out again until time for breakfast).  The second was that sleeping on the ground really isn't very comfortable.  I did a lot of similar day camps, but as I got older, I realized that as a Program Aid (the girls too old for the camp who were just there to lead activities) you got to sleep inside.  Since I loved the day part of day camp, it was natural for me to head in that direction.

In sixth grade, our class took a winter camping trip in February.  The things we did during the day were great; we learned to make a fire without matches and attempted to build a snow cave (though there wasn't enough snow on the ground).  The first night, I was crazy enough to actually sleep in a tent (though, instead of being on the ground, it was on a platform).  The second night I slept inside, but it was too late and I wound up sick.  It was definitely an interesting experience, but not one I'm rushing to repeat (though, the lack of spiders does make it mildly appealing).

Eventually, my mom decided I would like being a camp counselor and got me signed up for a 3-week counselor-in-training program.  Since I enjoyed being a PA so much, I should love this!  

I didn't.

I was the most homesick 15-year-old you could possibly have imagined.  I cried myself to sleep every night and wrote letters home asking Mom and Dad to come get me.  I actually got to call my parents, something that very few campers are allowed to do unless there's an emergency.  I was dead set on going home.  And then something changed.  I had made friends and was learning to enjoy camping (platform tents ftw).  I ended up staying the full 3 weeks and, much to everyone's surprise, I came back the next summer for the 4-week follow up.  

I wound up working at that camp for 4 summers.  Those summers had some of the best and worst experiences of my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  I made some amazing friends, had some amazing times, and (hopefully) made camp a fun place for my campers.

So while I absolutely hate rainy weather, sleeping on the uneven ground, spiders and other bugs, I also love the fresh air, the smell of trees and dirt, cooking over a fire and spending time with my hubby or good friends.  It's the biggest love/hate relationship in my life, and I can't wait to do it again in the fall.  :-) 

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