This picture represents beauty to me. I love the woods even more than the beach. The smell of pine, the breeze and sounds of birds singing is peacefulness at it's best.
But spending days here requires work if you are going to camp. Especially when you are the mom and have 8 people in all to plan for! Some would just forget it and find their relaxation elsewhere and believe me, I've thought of giving up camping more than once!
The reason I keep making these memories is for the kids. Kids love to camp! At least mine do. What could be more fun? Getting dirty, playing in water, swimming all day and living outside is just what will entertain them for hours. And you don't have to worry about them tracking mud in on your carpet!
You don't even have to wash them up before dinner or dry them off before coming to the table.
It's one big free for all!
So what characteristics do you need to possess to camp? First, you need to be a no nonsense woman. Dirt never hurt anyone. If you run around with baby wipes washing off every speck of yuck, you'll never get around to relaxing. Don't worry about your hair or your make-up. What's the point? I don't bring make-up when I camp and just wear a hat if my hair looks awful.
Make sure the clothes you pack for your kids can be ruined. We always have a pair of clothes just for camping and really, if they swam in them, ripped them, or rolled in the mud, I wouldn't care.
You also have to be creative. Washing dishes outside is different than normal, of course. It takes a bit of thinking. How will I get these clean with no hot water? How will I rinse them off and keep them clean with no counter to dry them on? You can't just lay them in the dirt to dry! This can be frustrating for some moms. I used to heat up water on our camping stove to sterilize the dishes but after years of doing this, I gave it up (unless I have a greasy pan). It's so much faster to just wash them at the spigot with cold water. I'll run them through the dishwasher when we get home and none of us are sick anyway. Sharing some germs isn't so bad.
Another characteristic is that you need to love nature, bugs and all. Well, I don't love bugs, exactly but have a tolerance for them. My boys almost immediately went down to the lake and began catching little frogs and tadpoles with plans to bring them home. Do I want a frog in the house? Not really, but there is so much learning that takes place when observing God's creation. Our culture doesn't take enough time to do this anymore. Kids grow up knowing nothing about insects or animals from first hand experience.
When I was changing in our tent, I noticed a huge insect stuck between the screen and the tent flap. I called everyone in to see it. It must have been some sort of grass hopper but it didn't look like anything I'd seen before.
Back to needing to be no-nonsense woman. You have to be able to sweat and not shower right afterwards. Or swim in a dirty lake and not shower before bed. Most campgrounds do have showers you can use but then you'll need to get over the whole public shower thing. I'm not sure what's worse, not showering or sharing showers with people you don't know!
I have a daughter, who will remain nameless, who will not shower when we camp. She waits until we get home and really I can't blame her. I at least like to wash my face, hands and feet before crawling into my sleeping bag.
Spontaneity is also very important. We woke up after our first night camping and it was so cool and beautiful that we decided to eat breakfast later and go on a hike around the lake. In Texas it's gets hot quickly and we wanted to hike but not in the heat. Of course the hike took longer than we expected and we were all famished when we returned to camp but it was worth it.
Micah, who is almost 5, could have slept in the lake. He loved it and couldn't get enough. The first night we were there, he wanted to go to bed really early because sleeping in the tent sounded so fun to him. We let him, but he wouldn't go to sleep for hours. He was so wound up. Even after Rich and I went to bed, I could hear him tossing and turning. When I asked him why he couldn't sleep, he said he was too excited to go swimming in the morning!
This is my nature girl. Julia spotted so many birds and tape recorded their calls. She is not squeamish about bugs and will actually pick them up and hold them. She hates it if they get squished. This picture was taken on our hike.
We are already planning our next camping adventure. I figure if we do it enough, I'll perfect the art of camping and some day it will be easy with no head aches at all.