Take me home

            We are back from family camp, which is just what it sounds like.  The entire family goes together, stays in a cabin, and makes tie-dyes.  It was just like overnight camp when I was thirteen, except this time I didn’t have to worry about who would sit with me in the dining hall and I wasn’t trying to impress the boys with my lanyard abilities.  Oh, and I had two small children with me.

            The bad parts?  No plumbing in the cabins, which meant we had to use communal baths.  Not so bad on paper, as they were only a minute or so walk away.  Except that walk was UPHILL.  Because we were IN THE MOUNTAINS.  Hard to scale the side of a mountain while holding a full potty that I needed to empty because my kids had used it in the night (and maybe once or twice, me too, but I ain’t talkin’.)  To make matters worse, the shared bathhouse close to us had some serious plumbing issues and smelled of excrement at all times.  So, usually, I used the one a four-minute walk away.  Not so bad unless you are seven months pregnant.

            Also, there seem to be a few things that make it hard to breathe.  Asthma and pregnancy are two.  Check.  Add to that altitude of 7000 feet and, well, I was using my inhaler a lot.  Like every time I had to walk up the side of the cliff to get to the bathroom.

            And, Zachary pretty much ate white bread for a week straight.  Benjamin, on the other hand, was tickled pink at the fact that there was fruit and meat available at every meal.  The adults in the party?  We left gasping for tofu by the end of the week.

            Sleep was a challenge.  The kids were so wired by their days and so freaked out by the change of sleeping quarters that they woke up in the night and had a hard time going to sleep.  I spent a lot of time sleeping with my kids, the highlight being the last night where I was flanked on one side by a four-year-old and the other side by a two-year-old.  The thirty-three-year-old I prefer to share the bed with had given up and moved to a bunk bed.

            Finally, there was a lot more dust than I remember from camp as a child.  That just may have to do with the fact that there was rain in the New England summer camps I attended, while not so much in Sequoia National Park.  Our feet were dirty for a week straight.  Well, mostly mine.  Everyone else can actually reach their feet and was able to wear sneakers.

            The good parts?  The kids were in activities all day long.  And, after the first day or so, they loved it.  They did not want to be out of their group.  So, we would drop them off at 9:15 and return to the cabin for a nap.  I could have napped till noon, but inevitably I woke up needing to pee, and by the time I had hiked to the bathrooms, I was awake.

            The boys got some fantastic bonding time with their grandparents, especially Zachary with his grandmother.  She did arts and crafts with him every day (plus the work he did in his group), which means we left with the following booty: three plastic bottles filled with colored sand, one piggy bank, four beaded necklaces, two tie-dyes, three paintings, one picture frame, and one decorated box, not to mention the necklace I made for Zachary and the remnants of the necklace I made for Benjamin.  Because the grandparents were there, the boys had a lot of really nice time with them.

            The boys had fantastic bonding time with their father.  Although they were in group all day, he was there for every meal, for naptimes, for bedtime, etc.  Given that he is now leaving town for a week, it was well-timed.  They stopped getting that desperate, starving-for-daddy look on their faces every time they saw him.

            The boys had less bonding time with me, which meant I had excellent bonding time with Edith Wharton.

            I got to see my husband.  ‘Nuff said.

            I did not do many activities, because a six-mile hike uphill seemed unreasonable in my current state of pregnancy, but I got to hear about the hikes my father-in-law did.  And J took Zach on a canoe ride while I took Benjamin to the pool.  And I watched the boys play by the edge of the lake.  And we led the boys on a pony ride.  (It was less idyllic than it sounds.  We had a nice time leading Benjamin on his pony; my in-laws, three horses back, spent the entire 45 minutes listening to Zachary whine about the fact that he got a horse while his brother got the pony he wanted.)

            There was spotty internet access and no cell phone access.  I count that as a bonus, but the two members of our party who needed to work would probably classify it differently.

            And so, we are back.  We are hanging pictures and finishing unpacking and Zach is starting day camp and J is leaving town and the boys are sleeping right again and we are all a little more unwound than we were.  I think most of our party had a nice time but is glad to get back to civilization.

            And me?  I think that, despite the fact that no one has ever confused me with that guy who went to live with the bears, I am an outdoors kinda girl.  Because back here, among the more comfortable beds and the indoor plumbing and the heart-healthy food, I miss the stars and the trees.  I miss the cold nights and the clear mornings.  I miss sleeping with the windows open and knowing that the only thing on the other side of the screen is a large deer.

            I do not, however, miss the stench from the bathhouse.

19 responses to “Take me home

  1. welcome home, you brave woman of the mountains!

  2. Well, it sounds like an interesting experience overall… and at least you did get a break from the day to day stuff.

    I prefer the sky and the stars, too.. and miss it a lot since I’ve been living in this very urban area.


  3. i love camping, too. The sequoias are stunning. did you go see general sherman and all that?

  4. Welcome back! Glad you are feeling the better for your adventure, even if it does make you miss the stars a bit more now.

  5. Welcome home! I desperately miss the outdoors stuff but between one thing and another (the other being DESERT which is HOT and DRY and probably the one thing is me being WHINY and WIMPY) I haven’t been camping in years. Can’t wait until the end of summer when we can go hiking again without falling over dead of heat exhaustion!

  6. You should have gotten a couple of badges for all that!

    Clean, cool air and stars? I’m swooning.

  7. I think we are the same kind of country girls…I love nothing but cool breezes for air conditioning and fresh air and picking berries and all of that, but when it comes down to essentials, like peeing and eating, I like my comforts!

  8. It sounds wonderful and exhausting all at the same time.

  9. it sounds in many ways just what the doctor ordered.

  10. We went to a similar camp just a few weeks ago. Fun, dirty, tiring, yet I miss it.

  11. I’m glad you had some good quality time with your husband, Edith Wharton, and fresh air.

  12. I know I shouldn’t say this, but I can’t resist: enjoy these times, these precious times, before you are outnumbered. These outdoorsy outings take on a whole different feel when you can’t neatly divide up one adult with one child. I only say that ‘cuz we just go home from a camping weekend with our three. I am tired.

    Glad you had a good time; family camp sounds super-fun. The craving tofu line cracked me up… I can relate.

  13. I do love the honesty of your accounts. I’m glad you had a really good time, and I could evoke that bathroom very vividly indeed!

  14. Welcome home!

    I miss stuff like that, I practically grew up at different camps in the summers. I worked at two, and while working at the second one I met my husband. I hope we can go to family camp someday. 🙂

  15. That sounds fun!

    I’ve never heard of family camp. I don’t think we have that in our neck of the woods . . .

    Is there actually staff there that organizes all of the activities?

  16. Glad to have you back!! I miss stars and clean air too. Sounds like you and company had a great time. I love that your boys are learning to love camp 🙂

  17. I am laughing (is that wrong of me?) picturing a seven-month pregnant woman hiking up the side of a hill in the middle of the night.

    Much of what you described brought back fond memories of family camp for me. I didn’t have to deal with homesickness because I always had my grandpa, grandma, aunt, or mom with me. My grandpa would run the camp snack shack. A couple of years my mom cooked. It was great.

    I’m glad you survived, enjoyed it (for the most part) and are getting back in the routine now.

    Have a great week!

  18. I just remembered why I despise camping. 🙂