Over the years we’ve built comforting camping traditions. I’d like to believe my motives for camping with my kids were altruistic – getting in touch with nature, open communication, living with less for 48 hours, teaching them woodlore I learned in Girl Guides when I was a kid. Ok, maybe there was some of that wistfulness deep down; but honestly, I just wanted to make fond camping memories with them like I have from my childhood.
Not Everyone is a camper
Our family discovered early on that Dad and Daughter-Number-One were not campers. They enjoyed their own bonding moments at home. Laura and I were the intrepid outdoors-women, welcoming all the challenges Maritime summers throw at us, we were the perfect camping companions.
We’ve established some endearing traditions over the years. There’s the obligatory text, “What food do you want to take?” Reply, “The usual.” Simple: stuff we’d never admit to eating at home like sausages, marshmallows, peanut butter cups (you know they’re for Smores). For three days away all I have to do is pull the same old baked beans from the cupboard, some chicken breasts, and prepare my special pancake mix. The condiments are kept ready-to-go in tiny travel-size bottles, including our camp talisman – 7 Italian Spice Mix – which over the 15 years we’ve carted it around, has turned an insipid motley grey. As I think about it, I’m not sure we’ve ever used it.
Then there’s the drive out of the city. We leave all the noise and to-do lists behind. Eventually radio reception becomes so bad that it falls silent and we’re forced to provide our own music – silly songs, some remembered from times spent in a rocking chair together when Laura was an infant; some over-the-top ABBA with groovy actions. How many people passing us on the highway have looked over and been treated to a display of retro disco dancing?
Picking the perfect spot
Another camping tradition involves selecting the perfect site on which to pitch the tent. Low lying land is to be avoided like the plague of blackflies and mosquitoes it invariably spawns. Do we want trees to shade us in the morning to prolong sleep or for privacy or as a windbreak? Too close to the comfort station and people are walking by at all hours. Too far away and we’re reliant on the pit toilet and its questionable odeurs.
Not surprisingly, campground registration has changed since the 1960’s. Today we prep by roaming http://parks.gov.ns.ca/ sometimes weeks before we even pack the car. So much information is available that we can even see photos of our prospective site to plan ahead on which side of the campfire we want to pitch our tent. Much of the fun is talking about the “what ifs”.
All these decisions we make as a team leave us feeling satisfied that we’re right where we’re supposed to be.
Is camping your idea of a good time? Do you like roughing it in the bush, camping comfortably in a trailer, or is a lodge in the woods as rustic as you want to get?