Quality Family Time
Camping with Your Kids
article by Cindy G. Foust
Are any of our readers ready for this writer to lighten the mood of this column? Goodness sakes, the last two months have been a little on the nostalgic, serious side, so I’m putting a bottle rocket under my keyboard and we are blasting off to August.
Readers, listen up…we are on the cusp of starting back to school, and no one at my home is ready! As my late Uncle Wayne would say (and Charlie Brown, of course), “Good grief!” I remember so clearly, when I was a child, dreading the thought of school starting, as the lazy days of summer sped by. Lazy days spent playing outside until after dark; helping my grandparents in their garden; playing softball; sleepovers with friends; and camping trips. Yes, you heard me right, camping trips.
Does anyone go camping anymore, that’s a question I’d like my readers to answer? You know, true authentic camping…pitching a tent? Campfires? Sleeping bags? My family always enjoyed summers at Lake Ouachita, camping, skiing, bike trails. Camping was pure summertime bliss for this writer. Well, except for that one time, when my parents let me go on a camping trip to Arkansas (exact destination unknown, but just know it was somewhere near where Freddy Krueger lives on Elm Street). Yes, this camping trip turned into a horror story of its very own, minus Freddy Krueger himself (well, we never saw him, but he was thought to be lurking somewhere in those woods).
I want you to think of cabins buried so far in the woods, Daniel Boone would never find you; cabins so antiquated, that the rooms didn’t have real walls (you know, with wood and stuff), they were screened in, and bathrooms were 3.2 miles (that’s what it felt like anyway) from your cabin. I’ve got to tell you, and I’ve written about the movies my VHS watching friends and I had watched at this point, but I had seen too many “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” movies at this point, and I was convinced Michael Myers was under my bed the entire vacation (or “TERRORcation,” if you would).
Yes, I had an ominous feeling after seeing these cabins and should have used the pay phone to call my mom to come get me, because the trip went downhill, literally, from there.
Let’s see…where should I start the entertainment part of the story? When I thought I would try to impress Greg Morris with my Olympic diving ability and dove into the shallow end of the campground pool. It should have been a big ole CLUE that the pool was not very well kept when you couldn’t see the bottom, but alas, I was trying to look like a graceful swan and impress my childhood crush, but dove into the shallow end instead. I think back on that and praise God I was not more seriously hurt, because I could have been, but my pride sure was when I had to walk around in a neck brace, missing some of my hair (that had been shaved off by the concrete at the bottom of the pool). Oh, and a few eyelashes…I was missing a few of those, too.
And then there was the fateful canoe trip, that had been described as the “rapids” but instead turned into the “comatoses” and I had the two “girlie-girls,” who will remain nameless, in my canoe, instead of having my childhood crush, and I had to do ALL the paddling, while they whined and cried, for the entire 32.9 miles. Oh, in a neck brace, did I mention I was in a neck brace? Yeah, except for that one time, I loved camping.
This got me thinking…as we are on the eve of school starting, why not take my own children on a little camping get-away? Well, those plans were thwarted, since my son plays high school sports and can’t miss practice. But perhaps there’s another way, a way some of my readers might be interested in, and that’s having a campout in your own backyard!
I can just hear the angst cries (I do realize the heat index has been 109º), and the loud thumps as you toss this month’s magazine in the garbage can! But just give me a minute…before you react in haste.
Think of the memories you will make! Think how excited your children will be (well, unless you are my 17-year-old son) as they help you pitch your tent, right in the comfort of your back yard. No tent? No problem. Because I am convinced this will become an annual “back-to-school” tradition (because I like for families to be rich in tradition), consider purchasing a tent at the local sporting goods store, or even better, discount shop or eBay.
If you aren’t interested in a financial investment, I saw where you can construct a makeshift tent by, (and I am trying to keep a straight face when I use the word) “simply” tying a rope between two trees and hanging a large blanket or quilt over the rope. Again, “simply” secure the four corners with a brick or something heavy, and voilá…you have