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Camping with Kids

We celebrated Andrew’s birthday over the weekend by going camping.

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The first night was–rough.  There were swirling winds, “Just go to sleep darlings,” I whispered frozenly at the children as Andrew and Maria pumped up air mattresses.  It was about that time, that the rain started to fall and I started dreaming of an uber with a blanket inside of it.  Poppy woke up in the middle of the night (So, like an hour after we fell asleep) crying, I think she was just confused, but then went back to sleep.

I was considering what a nice wife I was a couple times throughout the night when I woke up are various intervals.

In the morning, Andrew was up making a fire, brought me a warm drink, and we sat around the flames.  Maria pulled out the Johnny Tremain book we had reserved from the library, the kids ate instant oatmeal from water boiled over our fire, then strayed off to the trees and bushes to play.  There were no dishes to clean up, no laundry, as we slept in our clothes, now played in them, no streets or dangers for the kids, no toys or messes, we were just outside, together.

I called off the Uber.  I felt very relaxed.

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Andrew and I have spent many years of our adult life working with teenagers.  I know it’s not the most coveted age group to spend time with, but we love them.  We have been able to experience so many different lives over the years, and I think a big way it has effected our parenting to it’s kept the end in mind with our kids.  For us it would be so easy to get lost in the joys of early childhood, or kept swept away with the challenges and be more prone to tune out or avoid and check out due to the trouble of it.  But over the years our experiences have embedded different desires we want to infuse for the kids, some at the top are; a deep sense of self worth, family community, emotional intelligence and addiction prevention.

We approach some of these in such a variety of ways, and many overlap with each other.  Addiction prevention is very intertwined with connection, and being attuned to their inside world with safe connections to share their true feelings and self instead of the, “Stop crying!” or “Big boys don’t cry!” or “You’re OK!” approach, which could cause shame.

I also want my kids to feel the real world.  The smells, the sounds, the stillness to be, as well as the natural space for activity using their bodies.  I think the ability to connect to the natural world around us, to be comfortable with it can far out weigh some other things that tempt anybody.

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Even me, there are times when we are biking outside and I am just shocked at the intensity and beauty of the senses I feel, the peace, the connection, the smells, sounds.  I would love for my kids to know these early, even if it’s not easy to get there, know that it’s worth it.

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Even if I’m way off base in my thinking, just in this moment, these moments together in nature are good, are powerful experiences.

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Because of the rain California has had this year, we were able to find a rushing waterfall.

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As we hiked and explored down the river and falls, Poppy got braver and braver (Should have given her the middle name brave) and she got nabbed by a quick current.  Both Maria and Andrew dove to her at the same moment, fully clothed and grabbed her.  They pulled her out with hearts beating out of their chests, while Poppy was cracking up.  She was thrilled by the fun, and the fact that everyone was now soaking.

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That evening we made another fire and Andrew taught some of the kids how to whittle.  They were locked on and worked diligently on their craft.  After dinner, we played hide and seek and it brought me back to my childhood.  I had been outside for days, I felt free, running with the kids at twilight making my skin feel hot inside, but cool to the touch, without worry about what I was wearing or what would happen or if I had to be somewhere.  The sun had set, but the mountains around us were still glowing orange at their tips.  I crouched with Elijah under a huge bush, grasping each others hands, ready to spring at any moment, our hearts beating, catching each others eye in the joy of it, sage and oak filling the air.

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So, despite that first raining night with tears and wind, I have to say I now love camping.  It did something for me, for my family, for our hearts and mind.  It was not easy to prepare for it (It was a last minute decision) but it paid back 100 fold.

So, where do you recommend camping?  Where should we try to go?  We want to go more often.  Also any life changing camping tips we need to know about?  I’d love to hear!

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