OPINION – It’s not that camping doesn’t sound fun. The idea of camping is great. It’s just the actual camping at which I grimace.
I loved it as a kid. Then I realized that it was my parents who actually did all of the work. And now I have become the parent.
What woman wouldn’t get giddy with excitement over the prospect of squeezing her mile-wide mom hips into a sleeping bag fit for a small Asian child? Why must camping include sleeping like entombed mummies? After a “restful” night’s sleep, who wouldn’t love an uphill hike to the nearest port-a-potty for an adventure in outdoor “plumbing?”
Camping is the “pioneer boot camp” for moms. I spend days shopping, gathering, washing and shoving hundreds of items into the car. We are prepared for everything from a hangnail to a major tsunami. The ice chests are filled with 400 sodas and our overburdened SUV carries us away with smiling faces and dreams of high adventure.
I do enjoy parts of our little “end of the world” simulation activity. The fresh air is amazing, the Disney Channel is nonexistent and the cell phones have no coverage. That is the holy grail of happiness for moms.
When “operation camp setup” is complete and the last gnat has been brushed away from my teeth, I like to sit and stare into the fire. It’s the moment that I finally exhale. I’ve done it. I’m camping. I’m wearing my designated outdoor apparel. My special “camping outfit” has been patiently waiting for this moment of stardom. I slip into my faded “mom” jeans, blow the dust off my flannel shirt and now I am one with the forest.
I revel in my womanhood as I peel 25 pounds of potatoes with a toothpick and a plastic fork when the utensils were left behind. After five hours of cooking over a smoke-filled fire and washing the dishes over an inadequately small bucket, I start to envy the “RV elitists” with their darned refrigeration and carpeting. I scramble to find enough baby wipes to fake a shower and try to pretend my broken camping chair has a fourth leg that will hold me.
Camping is like an exercise in homelessness. We load up our gear, pretend to be without a home for the weekend and call it a fun-filled vacation. Maybe next year we could top this vacation by sleeping under a bridge.
As we head for home, the tired, dirt-filled faces of my children fight over the last piece of licorice. I dream of a bubble bath, handfuls of ibuprofen and enough Calgon to whisk me away.
Everyone scatters as if under mortar attack as we hit our driveway and I am left alone, staring endlessly at the mounds of dirty, muddy laundry waiting to be washed, and a car packed to high heaven with camping gear. I suddenly wish for the “unloading fairies” to magically appear.
Camping is like giving birth – if you wait long enough to plan your next camping adventure, you just may forget how much work it actually entails. Years down the road, if enough times passes, you will remember camping with fondness. And then you will sit and secretly smile at the notion of your own kids growing up and taking THEIR kids camping.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.