I piled my oversized conversion van to the gills with bikes, tent, stove, tarps, and the only 2 children I could convince to go with me on this camping trip. The other 3 conveniently remembered they needed to change their sheets that weekend, prepare for senior English, reconnect with a kid from grade schoool . . . you know.
I did pull out of the driveway with some trepidation . . . after all I am a mom long on ideals and quite short on practicality. Much more likely to pack a scatter rug with a leaf motif that matched the tent than to remember bug spray . . . ice . . . tent poles.
By the time the conversion van groaned up the mountains and eased itself on into the campground, I was truly hyperentilating and wondering if I was crazy and if earning this badge was really within my motherly limitations.
Come to find out, earning the badge was quite doable, if taken one small step at a time, engaging the help of others. And the extra credit was out of this world.
#1 - Put up the tent.
Check. How hard can this be in the year 2012? I remember my grandparents wrestling with huge canvas monstrosities and miscellaneous posts and poles of wood, metal and varying shapes and sizes. Coleman even attaches the three step directions to the tent itself . Thank you, Coleman. You know me.
#2 - Cook in the great outdoors.
Check. Oh my, did I feel proud. Attaching my own propane, lighting a flame, scrambling the eggs, frying the bacon, toasting the bread. Never mind that I have visions of my grandfather digging a ditch, filling it with coals, and nestling homemade biscuits down inside in a Dutch oven. No one expects me to go back to the pioneer days. It's 2012. I cooked in the great outdoors.
Extra points if your kids actually eat what you cooked. Mine did. They knew it could be a long four days.
# 3 Wash dishes outside.
Check. Once again a faintly romantic feeling, scrubbing the dirty pans and bowls while breathing in a little campfire smoke and feeling the sun shine down on your shoulders. Lasted about one meal. Lasted until I realized you need 2 (not 1!) dishpans for washing your dishes . . . one for washing . . . one for rinsing. That's also 2 dishpans full of hot water you need . . . one for washing . . . one for rinsing. And that's 2 trips back and forth to the community water pump . . . one for the wash water . . . one for the rinse water. And a half hour to heat the water on the aforementioned propane stove. More cooking after I've finished making the meal? Huh?
#4 - Build campfire.
Check. Sort of. Does it count if you need all kinds of help here? Help like squishy gel fire starter that you can purchase at the camp gate? Help like newspaper from your parents' campsite that they wisely did not leave out in the rain? Help like your 13 year-old taking over the entire operation? If it's your campsite and your fire ring, then I think you get credit.
Those are the essentials for the badge. At this point I was home free. The rest is just extra credit. And oh boy, give me that extra credit. It's why I love camping.
Kids splashing in the river:
while I look at the newest issue of Artful Blogging and am neither convinced to get wet or cold.
Games with extended family:
Bike rides folded up inside iridescent greenness.
Sitting still, hearing silence, watching sunshine through a smoky campfire haze.
Camping badge earned. Camping extra credit enjoyed.