Tag Archives: Camping

Sometimes Kids’ Adventure Needs to Be Mom-Free

“Mom, we did really awesome things that you would not like,” my son rambled from the backseat, along with descriptions of climbing high, wet, slippery rocks and getting up-close and personal with a possible rattlesnake.

My brain stopped at those high, slippery rocks. I knew those window falls he was talking about. He’s right. There’s no way I’d ever let him climb that.

But my son’s quote is the essence of our relationship. He seeks awesome things and I typically do not like them. Mention adventure and my danger radar goes off. I go into protection mode when it comes to my kids. I know I can’t wrap them in bubble wrap and send them out into the world. I know I have to let them live an actual life and experience actual things. None of that means I won’t worry the entire time they are away from me. And in order for my kids to have certain adventures, like awesome things I would not like, sometimes they just need to be away from me.

My son went camping this week with a friend and his dad. This dad has experience backpacking, camping in places much rougher than the hour-away campground they went to, complete with bathhouse. He’s been a camp counselor and a school principal. A pretty good resume if you are the type of mom who considers credentials before sending your child into the wild.

My breath may catch when my son climbs to new heights. I may tell him to be careful when he walks on slippery rocks. I may remind him twenty times to remember to shower so doesn’t get itchy at night. But once he leaves me, I know what I don’t know won’t hurt me, he’ll have fun, and he’ll do things I wouldn’t allow. He’ll experience life in a way I would never let him. Sometimes that’s the best part of letting go. In order for my kids to truly experience life, sometimes they need to do it out of my grasp.

When they come home and tell me their adventures, I smile and nod my head and I’m glad I wasn’t there to hold them back. And sometimes, I just pretend to listen. I don’t need to hear about all the awesome stuff.

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Filed under Boy Stories

Wanted: Five-Star Scout Camp

After a recent overnight field trip with my son, I felt I’ve already met my camping quota for the year. But what I do for my son, I try to do for my daughter. So I set off for Scout camp with my daughter. I would be going as a mom, not a chaperone, and besides, this overnight Daisy Scout trip offered horseback riding, something neither of us had ever done.

After seeing our accommodations, I quickly rethought my evaluation of my previous cabin experience. I may have had to use a bathroom stall with my legs angled a dozen different ways, but it became clear that I had been pampered. Those bathrooms were five-star compared to what I experienced at the Scout camp: an outhouse.

Not all cabins in the woods are charming.

I have camped at campgrounds equipped with bathhouses. I’ve put up a tent in the woods where nature was our bathroom. But an outhouse has many factors involved: no lights, bugs, and, well, bugs. It didn’t matter that someone put a toilet seat over the wooden hole. You just can’t fancy up an outhouse. And if you go into an outhouse not wanting to touch anything, as I did, you close the door and realize how tiny the space really is and how ridiculous that notion is. One needs clever balance and maneuvering just to fit without brushing the walls or falling into the pit. And I’m pretty certain “Little Miss Muffet” was actually written about a girl in an outhouse and not someone eating. How terrifying it is to be caged in and turn your head to see a spidey creeping down one wall and a patch of red and black hatchlings on the door. The outhouse never saw me again.

I don’t sleep well while camping. Nature can be so freaking loud. I much prefer the hum of electricity or my husband’s breathing to a chorus of strange what-the-heck-is-thats. While I lay there at 2 a.m. hoping a raccoon wouldn’t crawl through our ripped cabin screen, I realized I wasn’t the only one awake. Dogs barked, geese honked, crickets chirped, frogs croaked. From what I know, some of those animals are not nocturnal, right? A thud announced my daughter falling out of bed. I sleepily scrambled to get out of my sleeping bag as she tried to climb in bed with a bunkmate. At least the kids could sleep through nature’s hysteria.

The next morning, I took a turn on a horse named Tuffy. While the other moms easily made their horses enter the ring and circle the barn, mine stood there ignoring my commands. I wondered whether he had a rough night too or whether he was actually part mule. I just crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t throw me off. He knew he had a first-timer and I had to work for my ride along the wooded trail, making kissing sounds, squeezing him with my legs, and prodding him with my heel to get him going. He trotted slowly behind the other horses most of the way, then finally caught up and tried to pass one. I think he was checking to see whether I knew my commands. Thankfully “whoa” comes naturally to someone on a speeding horse.

Not the stubborn horse I rode. This one liked to give kisses.

Now I am officially bunked out, cabined out, camped out, and tired. And I promise to never complain about my bed or my toilet again.

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Filed under About Mom