When I was little, growing up in a large Catholic family in the 70's, we never went camping. And you know what? I never felt like I missed out on anything. Until I was an adult. And everyone had these great camping stories and knew how to start a fire from flint and tie cool knots and stuff. My kids, I vowed, would go camping.
Except, camping is a huge pain in the ass.
I know this because we camp at least once a summer. And it's a colossal undertaking with 4 kids. Three of which are teenagers. Which means their bigger than when their toddlers. So their clothes are bigger, they require more stuff to keep them entertained. And even more food. Because they're outside being active hiking, canoeing, biking and burning it all off. So, essentially, I have to bring an entire Costco store of food. Then we still have to pack 3 tents, 6 sleeping bags, a kayak, a canoe and 4 bikes. And I know you're going to say, but they're teenagers, it's easier because they can help.
Except, camping with kids is a huge pain in the ass.
It doesn't matter if they're toddlers or teens. It's just a different kid of pain in the ass-ness. Sure, teenagers are capable of helping. But getting them to help is almost not even worth it. Because you have to listen to, "But why do I have to help, ____________(fill in child's name here) isn't doing anything!" Even if your 20 minute lecture is effective, you've just wasted 20 minutes and it's probably raining now and you haven't even set up one of the three tents you brought. And there are still three other kids roaming free who haven't had the lecture yet. And they have already found the trail mix and picked out and eaten all the m&m's.
But, then again, everything with kids is a huge pain in the ass.
It's really not all that different camping than being at home. Except you're really dirty. And exhausted. And not sleeping because sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent is not as idyllic or comfortable as it sounds. And you're worried that your kids have gone to bed with marshmallow residue on them or that they stashed some reserve m&m's in their pockets for later and may get mauled by a bear during the night.
But it's the beautiful moments hidden in chaos that make it all worth while.
And the memories they create.