Monday, October 4, 2010

When Home is... a Tent

Are campers born or made?

I find myself asking this question more and more the older I get. My family were not campers. It was never a question when I was younger. We had friends who camped and friends who didn’t. I never wondered whether we would become a camping family; after a few bad experiences with school camps I was really glad we weren’t one.

My husband did come from a camping family yet felt that his years of highschool cadet camps killed any desire of carrying on the tradition with our children. Again, I never questioned it. I was still of the opinion that campers were definitely born.

But lately a lot of our friends have begun camping with their children. Most are from camping families (in keeping with my theory of campers being born) but some are new to camping as adults.

‘You should try it!’ they have enthused. ‘The kids will love it!’ they continue. ‘Yeah, it would be great to see Germaine camping!’ the men say and I don’t think it’s because they think I will love it.

But lately I have been thinking about it. Not about staying in a camping ground or caravan park but about pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere. With small children and living in a busy city there is something quite intoxicating about the thought of getting away from everyone and everything. Sitting around a campfire with my family and seeing only the stars, listening to the sounds of the birds, hearing the twigs snap and leaves crackling as you walk, being able to shut the outside world away.

Recently Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan wrote about camping with his daughter on his website Apartment Therapy and what he said resonated:

‘When you step out of your carefully constructed home, you can meet the world in a fresh way. And it all depends on mastering the humblest of activities: setting up a tent, cooking a meal, sleeping on the ground.’

But a big part of me still wonders if it’s too late; that campers really are born and definitely not made.

Photo from Country Living via Apartment Therapy


Claire said...

Please camp. Please please please please please. And film it.. just for me.. After my last experience I reckon that campers may be born, not made, but they can have a 'rebirth'.. what was it.. the tent pole falling on my neck.. the spontaneous bouts of gastro ALL the kids suffered from.. the torrential rain.. it'll take a while before I get the urge again!

Anonymous said...

mmmmm those were the days - going on easter family scout camp, always being the last to arrive getting the worst spot (usually on a hill) then listening to the swearing and cursing as dad tried to assemble the tent in the dark with half the pegs missing - those really were the days!! Part of me thinks every child should experience the great outdoors it is just that I am not so sure that I, as a parent, am up to dealing with that type of stressful situation. Does a tent in the backyard count??

Anonymous said...

I've had 2 wonderful camping experiences with my camping-friendly family in Cairns. Once when I was in my twenties, my cousin and I pitched a tent 3 metres from the sand and listened to the waves lapping the shore in perfect Queensland weather while eating mangoes picked from a nearby tree.
The other time, I was much younger - it absolutely bucketed down so much so that our lilos were floating around the tent. As kids, we loved it though and I still remember how much fun it was - swimming, playing with the children in the park and collecting pippies that my uncle then cooked.

This was all pre-kids of course. Now, I'm afraid I'm just waiting for the day that the boys are old enough to go off with Daddy (who has all camping equipment safely stored away for such a day) camping for the weekend while I stay happily at home!

Germaine Leece said...

Oh, that's what I'd like -- waves lapping, eating mangoes, fine weather. But, perhaps I'd be stressing all the time about gastro, tents collapsing, pegs missing, arguing with Stuart... Think i should just send kids off with camp-friendly friends when they are older!

Anonymous said...

Let alone mosquitoes, ants, funnel webs & snakes! The only place I ever camped (in a campervan) was for 3 months in Europe. Now that was fun, usually hot showers available & not many 'creepy crawlies' - well we did meet a few odd people & could only afford to eat local bread, tomatoes & tin food - That was something I could do again ....

Anonymous said...

We became a camping family when I was a kid, starting out in caravan parks (I was guilty of random acts of gastro myself) and graduating to middle of nowhere, dig your own toilet experiences. I am married to a man born to a hotel only holiday family who has embraced the camping spirit with great gusto, dragging the kids and me off....and we wouldn't have it any other way. I love it when home is a tent!


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