I do my best to provide my children with numerous enriching opportunities so they will grow up well rounded and full of happy memories. My great failing as a parent, as I've been told more than once, is that I have steadfastly refused to take my children camping. I can't really come up with another family activity whose mere suggestion fills me with greater dread other than something like attending a football game. Or hunting.
I have never had much interest in camping. I think the woods are fine and natural areas should absolutely be preserved and protected--ideally by humans, especially myself, staying out of them. Given a choice between a tall tree and a good book, the book will always win. My idea of nature is my garden, ideally when the blueberries are ripe. Extended treks through the woods are not appealing. The thought of slithering into a sleeping bag and trying to sleep with my family in a claustrophobic nylon tent surrounded by marauding raccoons fills me with absolute horror. My heart sinks upon consideration of meals prepared over an open fire and in fact, I hate the stink of woodsmoke.
I think it's because we camped as kids and while we had a great time, my stepmom never did. The rest of us hiked and swam and skipped through the trees while she stayed behind, washing dishes in tepid water and trying to cobble together meals before everything in the cooler went bad. She always seemed so relieved when we packed up and headed for home.
I've always been able to easily bow out of camping invitations made by more seasoned veterans who think a camping trip is a perfectly reasonable way to spend a weekend. Last year we used the impending bar mitzvah as an excuse but I can only get away with that so many times. Usually I can claim, quite honestly, that we just don't have the equipment. Well this time the lovely folks in our homeschool co-op found a place with rustic cabins so we could come along. My kids insist it isn't even camping anyway so I am not sure what I am getting so worked up about. But the thought of planning and shopping and packing and cooking and then being out in the middle of nowhere for three days is completely overwhelming to me . I'm just no suited to it. Other people pull these things off without a second thought and have a great time while I am, quite simply, out of my element and certain I'll be a harried wreck.
But I agreed. The kids are looking forward to it and the other families are lovely people. I'm kind of mortified by how incompetent I feel but hopefully I've dumped enough negativity here that I can put on a brave face and make this little outing a success. Maybe I'll be writing next week about how silly I was and start regularly heading off to REI to hang out with all the outdoorsy types and start buying performance fabrics and high tech gear. But I kind of doubt it.
At least I picked up a good book to take along, just in case.