It turns out, I don’t like camping.
I found this out the only way possible: I took my kids camping for two nights in Collingwood.
Turns out my kids don’t like camping much either. The pine cone doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I realize this is a very unpopular thing to admit. It’s not a very Canadian attitude. We’re all supposed to hug trees, paddle canoes and love nature. Let me be clear: I am fine to hug trees, gently. If I had a canoe, a personal flotation device and a whistle, I’d prove that I am probably not to be trusted in a canoe because I lack balance and my legs fall asleep, causing me to flop about.
Also, the desire to play “name that tune” with the whistle tied to my PFD would be nearly impossible for me to resist, so, yeah, probably not the portage type. But true to my Canadian heritage, I am happiest in nature and I love nothing more than the peaceful solace of the forest. I just don’t want to sleep in the middle of it unless it’s a cottage with an actual bed and an indoor washroom. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry (there, that was Canadian).
I did like some things about my recent camping experience, like the lack of Wi-Fi. Screen time became beach time or sitting at the campsite reading these things with pages, called books. Nothing that required electricity or recharging was allowed.
The only time my teens brought out their mobile phones was to capture and share images of their camping experiences with their friends back home. Sure, maybe I spy on their Instagram accounts, but when the image they share with the world is a golden sunset over Georgian Bay, I’m good with that. We sat together on a fallen tree that had come to rest on the shale rocks at the water’s edge and gazed at the awesome sight of another day passing. That’s living.
Together we learned that tea, scrambled eggs and beans taste better when prepared over a camp stove. Probably, for future reference, we should be better trained on propane usage, but look, nobody died so it’s all good.
Also, we discovered bug spray doesn’t work on the bugs that hurt and that opening and closing the tent a zillion times for bathroom breaks increases the bug population inside the tent. Yet it’s amazing how fresh air and heat exhaustion can allow you to sleep while Harry the gigantic spider watches from above. Harry and I became friends fast. Sleep won.
Unfortunately, so did the heat. We picked the hottest weak of summer to go and two nights was brought down to one. We folded in the tent, literally.
And that’s when the adventure made sense to me. It wasn’t how long we camped, or that we’d packed up early, and maybe we didn’t enjoy camping the way I had hoped we would. The point was that we enjoyed it exactly the way we, as a family, would.
Sometimes, when the best laid plans fall apart, they make way for the best memories. It’s not about the length of time, but the spastic fun we shared together. We learned that we love adventures that begin with long car rides, loud music and spontaneous experiences, followed by moments of simple reflection.
We’re happy non-campers. Mission accomplished.