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Backyard Camp-out

July 19, 2010

I promised to post these photos eons ago…and for whatever reason, blogging and summer have just not coexisted well for me so far this season.  Maybe I’ll get my blogging mojo back in the fall? ::sigh::


I grew up camping — although, in the interest of complete honesty,  have to admit that the camping my family did when I was growing up didn’t involve tents.  We had trailers — RVs — with electricity, running water, stoves.  We had closet-sized bathrooms in the trailers, little thirteen-inch TVs for never-ending rainy spells, and some trailers even had (gasp!) AC.  But still, we were camping, in our own less-than-rustic way.

Every weekend of every spring, summer, and autumn of my childhood and adolescence was spent at this campground.  As soon as school was out each June, my family would pack up and head to camp for the summer.   My father would commute to work, and the rest of us would spend our days outside.  Just about all of our waking hours were spent outdoors — in the woods, the field, and the lake at camp.

I learned how to navigate the dirt roads of the campground at night without needing a flashlight.  I learned how to build a campfire that won’t sputter out.   I learned how to climb trees, swing like Tarzan from gnarled tree vines, and how to build forts in the middle of the woods.  I spent my days submerged up to my neck in the waters of the lake, and spent my evenings playing the version of hide-and-seek that evolved among the kids in the campground, or laying on my back in the field watching for shooting stars and seeking out constellations.  I developed incredible friendships and learned how to pull myself back to my feet after having my heart broken.

I literally grew up in that campground.

I wish for my son to experience some of the same wonders that I did as a child.  I want him to feel comfortable spending an entire day, sun-up to sun-down, out doors.  I want him to learn how to find his way around in the darkness using only the moonlight through the trees to light his path.  I want him to learn how to build a campfire, how to soar through the air on a tree vine, how to scamper up the tallest tree, how to find the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt.  I want him to experience the complete and utter relaxation that overtakes you while you gaze into a flickering campfire.

I want for him to discover for himself the wonders of nature, of letting go of our day-to-day responsibilities and technological connectedness and to just, for a few days at a time at least, be.

Be a child.
Be an explorer, a naturalist, an adventurer.
Be free.

: : : : :

My husband & I have been eager to go camping with Shane…but Shane’s never been an easy sleeper, and I’ve been a bit apprehensive about being in a tent in an unfamiliar campground miles and miles from home, and discovering that he’s just not going to sleep well.  So we set up the tent in our back yard for a trial run.  And that was a Very. Good. Idea.

Shane was fascinated by the campfire.  Too fascinated…and I was paranoid.  The campfires I grew up with were pits that were either lined with a ring of stones or had what looked like low stone walls around three sides, with the front side open.  Our new backyard fire pit, made of metal that quickly glowed with the heat, made me incredibly nervous.  And I spent the early part of the evening on my feet like a linebacker, keeping myself in between the fire pit and my son.

Not fun.

Thankfully the art of distraction still works wonders, and Shane spent a good part of the evening far from the campfire, rolling down the hillside, chasing balls around the yard, and playing in the sandbox. As the evening wore on and he wore down, he eagerly climbed up into a chair to sit with us in front of the fire.

That when I changed him into his PJs, thinking that the campfire would help lull him, help ease him off to sleep.

No luck there.

He was up for hours.  Marveling over the stars as they blinked into existence, the fireflies that flickered across the grass, and the planes that passed overhead.  I tried three separate times to settle him down to sleep in the tent, and he was just wired.  Finally, sometime after ten, he let me carry him into the tent and drifted off to sleep.

Shane’s up with the sun each and every morning, and the following day was no exception.  It wasn’t even 5 am and he was awake,  bouncing wildly on our air mattress and ready to scramble out of the tent.

So we climbed out of the tent with him, as the birds sang their morning songs.  We played in the sandbox and worked in the garden before the dew had even dried, only heading inside long enough to change out of our PJs and grab a portable breakfast that we could eat outdoors.  And we spent just about all of our waking hours outdoors that day.  Together.

Just like I remembered…and just like I had hoped.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 3:36 pm

    It sounds like such a wonderful time together. And a wonderful childhood as well. I wish I had more summers like that as a kid, instead mine were excruciatingly boring.

    That campfire would have stressed me, too. Especially since your son’s initial reaction sounds like how my 4yo would have acted.

  2. July 20, 2010 3:49 pm

    What a beautiful post! Sounds like Shane had a wonderful experience. How fantastic to spend all day outdoors! Can’t wait to see how our backyard campout later this summer goes. (Fingers crossed!)

  3. Heather permalink
    July 20, 2010 8:39 pm

    Looks like lots of fun!

  4. July 20, 2010 8:53 pm

    (hopped over here from your comment on simple mom)

    Oh, what fun! You take such beautiful pictures – I love the peeking out of the tent one 🙂

    best wishes!

  5. July 21, 2010 12:43 am

    It looks like you had great fun. Waking up in a tent at dawn with young kids is something we have done too. Great fun but in small doses!!!

  6. July 21, 2010 9:25 am

    That’s so awesome. I’ve worried about taking Jonathan camping for many of the same reasons. He really isn’t a great sleeper at all and the fire…yeah…he’d be too fascinated with that. You’ve encouraged me a bit to try it…at my parents, of course, who live in the country, not here in town under the football stadium lights! 🙂

  7. July 21, 2010 4:12 pm

    Someday we’d love to get an RV and travel w/ our kids around the US.

    That said, we also love good, old-fashioned tent camping for overnight and weekend getaways.

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