I'm going to admit something that probably won't come as a surprise to most people who know me. Camping doesn't top my list of favorite summer activities. I think about the lack of running water, all that dirt, and rolling myself up like a burrito to sleep on the ground and I am always a tiny bit reluctant. But every time I go camping, I have a blast. Despite the Spartan accommodations, it's fun. I need to move camping up on my list!
This past weekend, we packed up our car and headed to central Oregon with my brother-in-law, his wife, and her eight-year-old niece Julie (that's her and Kellan above making mud mustaches). Kellan has been preparing for this trip for weeks. He carried around a battery operated lantern everywhere and played inside a tent we set up in our living room. We had to hide the lantern because he was getting a little too attached to it. When he wanted to have with him in the bathroom and while he rode his bike, we had to cut him off.
We camped near the town of Sisters and we couldn't believe our luck in getting a spot right next to a river. Being close to water made me a little nervous at first, but there were too many other distractions to keep Kellan busy. Besides, he had an older friend to keep up with. Whether it was finding the perfect walking stick or picking up dried pine needles for our camp fire, Kellan would follow Julie's lead on everything. The best part for me was that he fell asleep in the tent without protest. He was out less than a minute after his head hit the pillow. Too bad we can't manage that at home every night!
Our nature getaway made me realize how camping is a great teaching opportunity, not only about the flora and fauna you come across, but also about being good stewards of the Earth. Whether it's staying on trails while hiking or making sure we picked up every bit of trash at our campsite, we hope these are lessons that stay with our son. Camping is also an opportunity for the grown-ups to learn from the kids. That joy and freedom they feel while being outdoors is something we should all feel. I'm already looking forward to our next camping trip!