So, we went camping. And we made it back. And the children loved it.
“I loved camping!” my daughter proclaimed while we were at the coffee shop waiting for our supplemental breakfast to be served (cold bagels and frosted mini wheats weren’t really my kids’ thing, and we needed eggs, pancakes, and—in my daughter’s case—hot dogs).
“What did you like about camping?” I asked.
“No, Mom; I loved it!” she corrected.
“OK, what did you love about it?”
“I liked finding things,” she said, referring to the scavenger hunt we’d done the night before.
The campout was through the Massachusetts Audubon Society. The campout was listed under their homeschooling programs, but we were the only homeschooling family there. In fact, the two other moms there were sixth-grade public school teachers. I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to make the acquaintance of new homeschooling families, but I appreciated that the teachers didn’t talk to me about homeschooling. I get really, really tired of talking about socialization.
My daughter took a real shine to our guide, Chris, and I could only hope that she really was delighted at my daughter’s attentions and not just being polite.
“Wow, you sure know a lot about animals!” Chris exclaimed after my daughter directed her in the proper method of returning a worm to its home (put the rock down first, then place the worm next to it and let it find its own way, so you don’t smash it with the rock). My daughter had already explained to Chris why monarch butterflies aren’t tasty to birds, why viceroy butterflies mimic monarchs, and that salamanders need to keep their skin moist in order to breathe.
My daughter reads animal books and encyclopedias cover-to-cover, over and over and over again. She was thrilled to have someone who spoke about animals with the same passion and level of detail as she does. At one point, she was hiking back with me while Chris was up ahead leading the group.
“Mom, I’m going to go up and walk with that lady,” my daughter announced, already moving past me along the trail. “She’ll tell me more new things.”
My daughter was afraid of the campfire and, although she loved the s’mores, was terrified of toasting her own marshmallow. My son liked the fire, but was incredibly disturbed by the sticky, gooey marshmallow on his hands. He cried until I washed his hands and cried harder when I suggested he just lick the marshmallow off of his fingers.
I feel like I need a massage, a shower, and about twelve hours of sleep to recover from our one night outdoors. But walking across the dewy grass and watching the sun rise over the trees on the other side of the meadow, I felt the closest to belonging here that I have since we moved to Massachusetts three months ago.
And because there was no rain overnight, this campout marks the first time I have ever, ever camped when it hasn’t precipitated. Once it even snowed.
“Can we go camping again next summer?” my daughter asked on the drive home.
Sure, honey. We might even go camping once more this fall before the freezing temps hit and after we find out what to do if there’s a thunderstorm while we’re in a tent held up with metal tubing. And once we find a campsite near really good restaurants so the only thing we need to cook outside are s’mores.