My not quite two year old granddaughter just had her first overnight camping experience. She slept in a tent with her parents, and by their account, she had a wonderful time picking up sticks and pinecones, playing in water and watching wildlife.
It brought back memories of camping trips we took with our boys when they were young. I suspect these memories are closer to the surface because we just got rid of the thirty-five year old van we used for those trips. I remember carefully making lists, preparing the food, packing it all up in the van and taking off for a week. We could barely contain our excitement.
When you have three young children, camping is actually a lot of work. You live in a very primitive fashion, setting up your home, hauling water, building fires, and working had to get the meals together, then cleaning them up. Yet, there is all that fresh air, fishing, swimming, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors as your reward.
One of the things I enjoyed most was the aspect of stripping down our lives to very basic needs. A nylon tent was our home, with air mattresses and sleeping bags spread across the floor. Like nomads, we could pack up every few days, (or even every day) and seek out new adventures.
Our favorite times were sitting around the campfire, toasting marshmallows, poking at the hot coals with a stick and telling stories. My boys loved the true life ghost stories I told about seeing strange things in my grandmother’s house. I will still swear today that old house was haunted. And it was these stories of the humpty-dumpty doll that came alive and danced on mybed and the Civil War era woman who slipped through my parent’s bedroom one night that they still remember.
We still sit outside on summer nights, but now it’s on our back porch with candles lit instead of around a campfire. Tonight we talked about some of our favorite camping trips. That special place on Orcas Island reserved only for tent campers. Osoyoos Lake, the Oregon coast, Kelowna in Canada and Eastern Washington were all on that list.
I have photos of these trips, but sometimes it’s more fun to simply talk about those vacations. We compare notes, try to recall the dates and correct each other until we’ve built a story. These are the tales I want to share to with my little Sophia. I want to sit around a campfire with her someday and tell her how her Dad made bows and arrows , stripped off many of his clothes and ran wild through the woods with his brothers.
My son Garth once described his childhood as, “a Huckleberry Finn experience”. And who wouldn’t want that for their children and grandchildren?
We’re after the same rainbow’s end
Waiting ’round the bend, my huckleberry friend, moon river and me.
Moon River – Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini