For the past ten years my husband and I, along with whatever kids we had at the time, have gone camping on the Canada Day long weekend. We go with friends, usually 5-6 other families with kids as well, and we go to a provincial park where we’ve mapped out and reserved adjacent campsites. It’s epic and we love it, except for one part: the packing.
The closest to divorce you will ever see a happy couple is when they pack for a camping trip.
This is due to a number of reasons. First, camping is supposed to be cheap, right? Aside from the campsite reservation and the upfront cost of camping supplies, you’re always using the same stuff, year after year. Except you never have quite the right stuff. You see how friends have set up their site and realize how much more convenient a headlamp would be, and you don’t have a headlamp! So you buy one the next time you camp. Also, you started out using disposable dinnerware and now realize how bad that is for the environment, so you invest in good cutlery and dishes to be used just for camping. Then you realize you’ve got too much gear to fit in your car, and get a rooftop cargo carrier.
See where I’m going with this? Camping is actually pretty expensive, and I guarantee you or your spouse will be complaining that the other spent too much money on something new this year.
Second, even if you’re used to packing your family up to travel, it’s not the same as camping. This year, the forecast called for absolutely zero precipitation, so I didn’t pack rain boots or rain jackets for the kids. Naturally that meant there was a thunderstorm and downpour in the middle of the first night, leaving the kids walking through muck in their sandals the next morning. If you’re adventurous enough to be camping with young children, you’re likely packing at least twice as many pairs of pants and underwear as what you actually need.
On top of that, you have to plan and pack food for meals and snacks while you’re away. In order to avoid time-consuming trips into town, you really need to think of every single thing you’ll need, from salt to the cans of beer you want to drink. Inevitably, something is forgotten. Even before that, though, the stress of fitting all of that food into a cooler and dry box will have you and your partner angrily demanding the marshmallows be left at home so the hamburger buns will fit.
Finally, let’s not forget getting it all – including your children – into the car. For some reason, your kids will think you needed to pack every single toy they owned, so they wouldn’t be bored. Naturally, you don’t agree to it, but prying the Paw Patrol Sea Patroller from your son’s arms while he screams bloody murder will manage to raise your blood pressure quite a bit. This is the point where you’ll want to embrace as much screen time as your kids would like. Ironically, they never seem as interested in burying their heads in their devices during a long drive as they do when they’re at home and it’s time for dinner.
In the end, however, you do manage to get on the road to your camping destination. And while you may need some cooling off time before you’re able to tolerate the sound of your partner’s voice again, there’s no question it’s all worth it, once you arrive and take in the beauty of the natural world.
Until it’s time to put up the tent.