TV commercials make rustic tent camping so much fun. The weather is perfect. The adults smile. Children laugh as they roast marshmallows on sticks and make s’mores. Everyone is dressed in trendy outerwear. And the tent and all camping gear are brand new and top quality. By the time the commercial ends, you just want to wrap the car up and hit the road. It’s time to take the whole family to one of these scenic spots and commune with the great outdoors!
In reality, tent camping is usually too hot, too cold, too rainy, or too buggy. Often several of them at the same time. Also, usually something essential for pitching the tent or cooking dinner was left at home. Children complain because they are bored, there is no Wi-Fi or cell service, and people are forced to chat with each other. Adults accustomed to the comforts of home lack sports and practical bathrooms. Do you ALWAYS want to put the car away?
My paternal grandfather would take his two sons camping in the 1950s. After that, my father decided to carry on the family tradition and take his three daughters camping in the 1970s. At the time, we were living in the central Illinois and my grandparents had retired to Sun City, Arizona. So dad decided we would go visit them, camping along the way. Ahhh, memories!
Dad packed his old green station wagon (with the super stylish faux wood panels) with food, gear, and his little girls (10, 7 and 7). A good man indeed! We were driving all day which was going as you would expect with four family members locked in a crowded car. At the end of the afternoon, we stopped for the night. Sometimes we would go to a campsite with bathrooms, but other times we really gave it a hard time. Yes, dad was taking three little girls to a “campsite” without a toilet.
My parents were divorced, so dad was alone. He was a good camper, but he wasn’t as good at looking after three little girls away from home. Any reasonable person would bring toilet paper, but Dad really wanted to get in touch with Mother Nature. Needless to say, my sisters and I learned early on which leaves to use and which to avoid like the plague!
One night we camped on a mountain ridge with beautiful scenery all around us. It was cold and windy. But we had a nice campfire and the night sky was beautiful. In the morning, dad lit the campfire and made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Well my sisters and I didn’t really like scrambled eggs at first. The fact that they turned icy after a few minutes didn’t make them any more appealing to us. So we wouldn’t eat them. Boy oh boy, daddy was maaaaaaad! He told us that we would not be leaving until we had had our breakfast. But his willpower was nothing compared to three unhappy little girls who were ready to sit there all day and starve to death before eating those cold scrambled eggs. Finally, dad packed the camp in defeat, and off we went. I don’t remember the rest of the day. But I vividly remember what we ate for breakfast the next day: Oreo cookies and sweet red cherries. Apparently dad had decided to make breakfast more enjoyable for all of us. Intelligent man!
Years later, we’ve all learned to laugh at our camping memories. And we’ve all been tent camping several times, in a lot more places. My sisters and I eventually got very up to speed with all things camping. We have learned to look past the heat, the cold, the rain and the bugs and find joy in the great outdoors. All thanks to our dad.
But… .. I still don’t like cold scrambled eggs.
Laura Schupp resides at Zion Crossroads with her husband Rick and her two cats. She would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.