Apr 3, 2012

For the Love of Camping

We went camping for my husbands 30th birthday this past weekend. You have no idea how happy we were to be able to go camping in March. I'm still excited about it, and we've been home for 2 days. For me, there just isn't anything more relaxing, and re-energizing than sitting in the forest around a camp fire drinking beer with your friends and just taking it all in. Which is probably why I was okay with living in a camper in the bush for most of last year.

I fell in love with camping as a teenager. My first camping trip ever was over May Long Weekend when I was about 15 years old. My dad drove his truck and camper out to the lake for a bunch of us girls to use for the weekend, and our parents made sure we had all the supplies we would need.  I think it was the first weekend away from our parents for most of us, and we were actually pretty well behaved. We drank some beers, burned breakfast and let some cute boys come to our site and hang out, but that was about it. Still, it was empowering, knowing that if worse came to worse, I could start a fire and fry myself some eggs. I was all grown up!

Every year since then, I have spent my entire winter planning for camping. I try to get out no less than 3 times in a summer, and have mostly been successful. I was (and am!) lucky enough to be friends with many people who shared the same obsession  interest in camping, and in the late 90's myself and a friend accidentally on purpose started a tradition of camping every July Long weekend together. We promised each other that no matter what was going on in our lives, we would get together that weekend at The Lake.

We kept our promise, and then some. That pair of friends, expanded to over twenty campers the year I got married, and spent the wedding and honeymoon camping with our friends and family. About 6 years ago, the group of people interested in camping with us got so big, that we just couldn't be accommodated in the regular campground any more. We were too loud, and too large, so we started planning other alternatives. We camped in group sites, we camped in the overflow, we camped at a lake down the road with no services. Anything to have our privacy, and do our thing. Our meals evolved from chips, hot dogs and beer, to deep-frying turkeys, home-made wine, and gourmet breakfasts. As we got older we needed mattresses, and better shelter, and propane stoves. We needed more than a weekend, we needed a week, and then ten days. We needed WAY MORE BEER. The original vibe was still present throughout the changes, which was to be with your friends, be happy, have more fun than you will have all year, relax and make memories.

This winter, I haven't been planning the group camping trip. I'm breaking my promise, and it breaks my heart. Living two provinces away makes it hard. I am still saving money, and if people back home decide to keep the tradition going, I will do my best to be there.

What keeps me from being a blubbering mess about it all, is the fact that I live somewhere where camping is easy. Although we can if we want to, we don't have to drive more than 20 minutes to get to a great camp site. We can camp on the beach, or in the bush, or in a Provincial Park. We can pack up in 15 minutes, hit the liquor store and be on the road in no time at all. We don't have to plan for months in advance, and the weather is nice enough that our camping season has just been extended by about 4 months at the very least.

I am so grateful to my parents for letting me go on that first camping trip, and I am so grateful that I found a husband that loves camping just as much as I do. Even though I can't be with my friends as often, I can always twist his arm and get him out to the forest. Even in March.

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