To my mom, it was “a picnic with tents.” She was not a fan, but being a good sport she was willing to go along with it. When my high school friend and I planned a camping trip with our two families, however, she landed in the hospital with a mastectomy instead. We told her that was going a bit too far to get out of camping.
To my kids, it was “taking a break from the cabin.” Kind of embarrassing really. When we bought our cabin, I was thrilled but mourned the inevitable loss of camping trips. So my husband fulfilled his promise of keeping it alive by taking the family camping just 10 miles away from the cabin. Walking through the campground, we felt a bit sheepish when our kids proudly announced to other rustic campers, “we’re here from our cabin!”
On a real family camping trip in the Black Hills, it was “more toast please, Mom.” A rainy morning meant the cooks got wet, but a roomy old canvas tent allowed the kids to play and have breakfast in the dry interior. It didn’t curb their appetites any, as their hunger for toast seemed insatiable.
On a Boundary Waters canoe trip with friends, it meant sharing dreams. We were land-bound by thunderstorms and tent-bound by the rain. Much of the day was spent reading and snoozing, until a voice emanated from the other tent. “Here’s an assignment for you. Name 10 vacations you would like to take.” We whiled away much of the afternoon exchanging fantasies of adventures and destinations. We’ve even done some of them since.
To my friend, Mary, the mere thought was horrifying. “What, no hairdryers or make-up?” The idea of going without for days on end was unfathomable. But we love her anyway.
Camping seems to mean something different with each outing. No matter what the circumstances are, it promises plenty of memories. And with the passage of time, they almost always become good memories.
To Mary: If I were to go camping these days, I would sneak my concealer along with me… 🙂
For Tom and me, camping has to involve fishing in the Boundary Waters, listening to the call of loons on beautiful clear nights, and a number of family rituals like having a swig of “ish” when we catch a fish . . . or when we don’t. “Ish” used to be rot-gut whiskey when Tom was camping and fishing in the Boundary Waters with my brothers. Thus the name “ish,” and in “ish, that tastes awful.” I convinced him to switch to upscale sherry when I started accompanying him. It’s the only thing I drink – ever – and I drink very little. But it’s a family tradition . . .