When I was around ten years old, my dad took me camping. It was a quick over-nighter. We left after he got home from work, hiked a little bit, and stopped when we got to a place that was big enough for our tent. I’m not sure if we even had a fire, and in my memory, it was getting dark about when we started to set up the tent, so we mostly slept and hiked back out. My dad had an inflatable sleeping pad while I had only a sleeping bag so he gave me the smoother portion of the tent floor, where I slept the sleep of the dead while he took for himself the lumpier part of the floor only to lose the air in his pad and spend the night trying to find a comfortable spot for the rocks and roots to poke him.
There’s some green-space around our house. Green-space (for those who may live in deserts where undeveloped land isn’t green) means un-developed land between neighborhoods. It’s often used to provide a sense of “nature” to a suburban neighborhood. There’s some nice foresty green space near our house that you aren’t supposed to use for anything, but as it’s fairly thick and I’m inclined to disregard rules I don’t like, the boys and I sometimes go bushwacking through there and we’ve happened upon some great spots to throw a tent. (In the map image, our house is the “A” and the spot where we camped is the “B”.)
Last night, we carried in a tent, a couple of sleeping bags, and a camp-stove and spent the night. It was a great time. We ate before we went so we just hit things with sticks, had hot cocoa and roasted marshmallows. We all brought books to read in the evening and in the morning, we played uno and skip-bo in the tent.
When we went to sleep, I well remembered the lesson my dad learned on that trip long ago. I took the smoothest part of the tent floor for myself, trusting to the youthful lack of awareness to help the boys sleep fine on the piles of roots, branches, and rocks under their own sleeping bags. (To be completely honest, I even brought myself a cot to really ensure that I wasn’t bothered by any uneven surfaces and still took the flatter ground.) I don’t feel bad about it at all, as the boys slept like the dead (except for Porter getting up to go pee three times) and I didn’t have a bad night, myself.
Of course, as soon as I got home, Afton was there, backpack loaded, hoodie on, flash-light in hand, ready for her turn camping. We’ve agreed we’ll try it again next weekend with just me and the girls. We’ll see how that goes, since Afton gets up to pee at least as often as Porter and lacks the parts to make it the same simple operation.
Update, 2 days later
Afton didn’t stop wanting to go camping. She wore her hoodie and backpack around for the next two days so on Tuesday night, we put up the tent in the back yard for a daddy-Afton camping trip. We had a real fire, roasted marshmallows, then, crawled into the tent to read some books and go to sleep. Of course it started raining pretty hard, and of course the sound or rain pelting the tent isn’t exactly a lullaby, and of course water started dripping in on us in a couple of places. Around 4:00 in the morning we gave up, crawled out, and I carried Afton inside through the storm and we slept the rest of the night in our own beds. All in all, great trip.