by Amanda Forester
Some of my favorite memories as a kid are the many times we went camping as a family. It was great fun! I remember playing in lakes, swimming in ice cold glacier water, or catching frogs in muddy ponds. Sleeping in a tent outside was always a thrill (except for the time we forgot the rain fly and it started to pour in the middle of the night and the tent filled up with water).
Camping food is the best too. Somehow anything cooked over an open flame is delicious! Hot dogs roasted over the fire, “dirty” eggs in the morning, and of course s’mores at night. My brother and I had different strategies for roasting marshmallows. He would carefully roast his over red coals until each side was golden brown. I was too impatient and would plunge mine into the fire until it burst into flame. I’d wait a few second for the flames to melt the insides, then blow it out and eat the charred thing. With chocolate and graham cracker I swear the black ashen husk of the marshmallow was barely noticeable!
So it was with eager anticipation that I planned my own family’s first camping trip last year. We were going to have so much fun! My first task was packing for the trip. When I was a kid I would just throw some stuff in a bag, which my mom would then double check and add the things I forgot. Now that I was the mom, this task fell to me.
Packing was my first clue that camping for moms is different than camping for kids.
It took me weeks to prepare. I made lists, I read books, and I planned for every possible weather contingency. There was a lot of equipment to buy. Have you wandered around a camping store? So many gadgets! And all of them collapse down into itty bitty packages. Me, a credit card, and a camping store is a dangerous combination. After spending as much on “roughing it” as a trip to Disneyland, I moved on to meal planning. I made careful estimations as to how long food would last in the cooler. Making a detailed list is key because you must bring everything you need for that meal. Want to eat a can of baked beans? You better be packing a can opener!
Finally the day of the trip arrived. We arrived at the campsite and the kids ran off the play. I spent the afternoon running around trying to set up camp and at the same time make sure junior didn’t fall into the stream and juniorette didn’t fall out of a tree.
Finally the campsite was up and ready. Now it was time to play… wait, no I needed to start cooking dinner. I got the fire started and put on the grill. Getting the fire right, with the coals just perfect is a bit of a challenge. Mom did it, easy—at least that’s how it appeared to me as a kid. I was coming to realize Mom did a lot of stuff… and maybe it wasn’t so easy.
Dinner was finally a success. Now to search out fireflies and frogs by the creek… or I could do the dishes instead. After the dishes it’s time for my favorite – s’mores! I get the kids sticks to roast the marshmellows and show them the proper technique. Suddenly, one of the marshmallows catches on fire and my kid screams, waving around the blazing torch. Argghhh! In a panic I grab for the flaming ball of death.
Crisis averted, I finally get the kids their s’mores prepared and now it’s time for mine. Except no, I need to take juniorette to the potty – which when camping is an experience best forgotten as soon as possible.
The rest of the trip pretty much went along the same lines. My kids had a fabulous time, just like I used to have. I worked my butt off, just like my mom used to do. Afterwards I called my mom to thank her.
We are planning on going camping this summer again. The kids are totally looking forward to it, and this time I know what I’m in for!
So here’s to all the moms who work hard so their kids can have a great time! Have you ever had to fill a role your mom did and realized just how hard that lady worked for you? Love ya Mom!
Oh and if anyone wants my camping packing list, e-mail me at Amanda@amandaforester.com. I’m happy to share!