Monday, May 18, 2009

Family Time: Priceless

This weekend, we made the leap and bought an annual pass that will allow us to camp whenever we want without having to pay the fee to get up the canyon.

This was big for us. For a variety of reasons, we haven't camped in years. We used to go more, and I thought our older kids at least had happy memories from those times, especially the trips we took with my in-laws and the ones we went on with my dad. It was a bit startling when #3 said she had no memory of ever sleeping in a tent. She'll be ten soon.

What the what?

Then I remembered that one of our big camping trips was while my sister and I were both 8 months pregnant. I was pregnant #3. Of course she didn't remember sleeping in that tent. (Fun night of sleeping that was, let me tell you.) So yeah, it had been too long.

We picked an early weekend in the season mostly because we wanted to avoid the Memorial Day camping rush  and because so many other weekends are already getting sucked up for the summer with things like Girls Camp (HOW do I have a daughter old enough for THAT?!) and Scout Camp.

But as the weekend approached, I started feeling guilty. Three of our kids ended up with party invitations for Friday, including my dear little kindergartner who'd never been to a birthday party for someone not in our neighborhood. This was a class friend inviting her. Wow! But we had to reluctantly RSVP our regrets. 

Friday afternoon, we packed up the minivan until we were up to our gills, drove up the canyon, and picked out our site. We set up the tent as a family, hung out by the fire, read stories aloud, roasted hot dogs and made s'mores and did a bunch of other camping-type things.

No Nintendo DS interrupted the time. No iPods came along. I brought a book, but didn't open it. The time was purely hanging out with family. The kids were silly. They had a ball just hanging out with us and talking. They snuggled with Mom and Dad. They warmed up by the fire. When it was close to bedtime, we holed up in the tent and played a game of Outburst, Jr.

At one point early in the evening, we heard, "I'm so glad we came. This is a lot more fun than any party."

And the response: "No kidding! I don't understand people who say they don't like camping. It's so fun!"

The only negatives:
-Our youngest ran across the pavement in an eager rush to get somewhere, biffed it, and got a fat lip and a pretty good scraped across one cheek.
-In the tent, a plastic lantern fell and hit #3 on the head, giving her a goose egg.
-We picked a site next to a river. May nights are already on the cold side, but we learned that a river thirty feet away will make you FREEZE at night. Just a word to the wise.

I still have a bunch of supplies to put away and smoky clothes to wash, and all day Sunday, we were all kind of wiped, but it was a happy kind of wiped.

I can't wait to use our pass again. It was the best time we've had as a family in a long time. 

And this time, they're all old enough to remember it!

Maybe next summer, Grandpa can join us, assuming he and Mom aren't given another calling the minute they get back this fall from their latest mission. (Let's all knock on wood really hard. Five years of straight service is enough to deserve a break, right? RIGHT?)

The best part for me: no distractions. No technology. No responsibilities. Just one-on-one time with family, talking and being together.

I think we'll be doing more of that. Just a guess.

35 comments:

Barbaloot said...

That sounds so fun! And I can't believe what a trooper you were to go camping 8 months pregnant! That cannot have been comfortable.

Jenn said...

It sounds like the perfect weekend!

A camping pass? Awesome. No one is a big camper in these parts. You've got to get out of the humidity to want to do that. But I love the idea of a "pass."

Kristina P. said...

We own a lot of camping gear, but I could go once or twice a year, and that would be enough for me. I never, ever sleep well.

LisAway said...

Thank you for this! I have been dying to do some camping and we've only gone ONCE since we came to Poland! Unfortunately, over here you usually rent rooms in homes near the lake or the mountain etc. Campgrounds consist of a field where everyone pitches their tents next to each other. Really it's for people who can't afford to rent a room. And there are community bathrooms and showers, but no private camp sites. That takes a lot of the fun out of camping, really. But we do go and stay in rooms and do all the hiking and river wading etc. that usually go with camping.

I hope you continue to enjoy camping through the summer. That's so much better (in most ways) than a season pass to Disneyland or something.

Chas Hathaway said...

That's great! Family time is always the most well-spent time. Taking that time helps us remember what matters most.

- Chas
http://music.willowrise.com

Lyon Pride said...

I'm one of those "I hate camping people." I think it is just a stage though because I have fond memories with my siblings camping--we just never went camping with any facilities and I was the teenage girl usually experiencing that time of the month :) We were talking about camping yesterday and the boys really want to go but Tori said she never wants to do that. Maybe we'll stay and have girly time! I think camping will be fun again when my kiddos are bigger!

Jo said...

Oh wow, that sounds like so much fun. I love the smell of smokey clothes. I miss camping. Have some extra fun for me, okay?

Summer said...

I LOVE camping! I can't wait to go this Summer!

Heidi Ashworth said...

How fun! When we lived in a stake near San Jose, a general authority talked about how hard it is to be the child of parents who are serving missions or whom are general authorities. He asked all the people in the audeince whose parents were serving as general authorities of any kind to stand--there were eight. Eight! In SAN JOSE! Anyway, it made me think for the first time how hard it was for the children of those people. Then my parents served an 18 mo mission to England---it WAS very hard. I can't imagine five years!

Lara said...

You know, I am not a fan of camping, but you make it sound so great that maybe I'll have to give it another whirl! The last time we went Bria was 3 and Chloe was a baby who screamed the entire night. Not fun. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

I love camping! It sounds like it was a wonderful trip.

Jillybean said...

Sounds like fun!
I haven't been camping since I was a kid. We would go with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and tons of cousins.

I can't believe you went camping when you were 8 months pregnant.

SO said...

Our kids love camping. Love it. We try to go at least once a year for a few days. This Summer, however is jam packed so I'm not sure how that is going to work. We'll have to see.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Twilight has ruined me for camping... if I can't love up on an icicle and then a WARM mass of hunk... I don't know if I can do it! lol! :)

CountessLaurie said...

Hurray for you! I am so glad that everyone had a great time! We are big campers and will be heading out with all the Memorial Day crazy people! But we are camping next to a river. I will pack warmer clothes and more blankets. Thanks for sharing!

LexiconLuvr said...

I have many fond memories of going camping with my siblings and parents. I have sadly only taken my lil dudes once. I will have to remedy that. I think we'd have a great time too!

Sher said...

Yippee!! I love camping...LOVE IT!! And I was shocked and appalled when my hubby told me his family never camped growing up. His only camping experiences were from scout camp (which in my opinion doesn't count).
I'm still working on him, he'll go for a few days, then he thinks he needs a shower or something.
What's up with that?
We should get together and go camping sometime!
I know, a blogger meet and greet camping trip! how fun would that be?!!!

Becky said...

I am glad for you, but personally I am not big on camping. A ton of work for mom before, during, and after. Not my idea of a vacation.

Janelle said...

We have a camping trailer. It is still a lot of work, but I sleep as good camping as I do at home. And that is awesome.

debilyn said...

My family did a lot of camping when I was young. Some of the best memories came from those camping trips.

So glad you guys had a great weekend :)

Fiauna said...

Okay, you just lit the camping fire under my rear. My husband has been bugging me to go camping for a while (I am not a camper). I guess I'll have to give it another try.

Rachel said...

You're right. Memories like that one really are the best.

Heatherlyn said...

I'm glad you could get away and have a good time with your family. Our kids LOVE LOVE LOVE camping. Me, not so much because ... it makes me tired. But we still go at least once a year because the kids love it so.

Mikki said...

I haven't been camping in like forever. Sounds like a great way to spend the weekend. I want to go now too. sigh.
I need to go buy a new tent. Our disappeared in a windstorm. How old is your youngest? I wonder if I dare take my almost two year olds?

Jenny said...

As our children are getting older now. We have talked about taking our children camping this year.

We bought a pool pass for the frist time yesterday. That will give us many summer days to lounge by the pool.

Heather of the EO said...

That's what i love about camping, or being away, far out of cell phone range. Peace. No choice but to forget technology. It is a nice break.

And I got your book yesterday!!! The There, Their, They're one. So now if I make mistakes on my blog, it must be your fault. HA! I kill me. Kidding, of course.

Kimberly said...

Aw heck. After reading this I'm going to have a hard time saying no next time Neil suggests a camping trip . . .

Sue said...

I'm with you - we LOVE camping and so do the kids. The first thing I thought of when I found out I was pregnant was what a kink this would put in our plans to go to Yosemite at the end of the summer. (I'm incredibly deep, I am.)

Amanda D said...

This sounds so wonderful. Our first trip is planned for this weekend, and I had been dreading it until I read this. Thanks!

Rachelle said...

Sounds like you're going to have quite the summer. I have lots of great memories of camping. Your kids are lucky you're making it a priority. I wanted to tell you about an awesome contest I entered at
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Cynthia said...

Only YOU could write well enough to make a sleepness, freezing night spent camping fun! Nah, I like everything about camping except the not sleeping part.

We actually came within inches of buying a travel trailer this spring so we could camp all summer with the kids but in a nice, climate-controlled environment. We finally decided against it because we'd have to get a different vehicle to pull it and that just seemed like too much of an investment.

We'll still go camping this year though- the kids had a blast camping out with me in the mini-van at last years' ward campout.

Michele Holmes said...

Loved your post, Annette. And I love those experiences when family time is joyful as it's supposed to be.

Almost makes me want to go out and buy a tent again.

wendy said...

What a wonderful time. I think too many families are forgetting about "the family time that is needed" without all the techology distractions!!!!!!!!!
Here's to camping!!!!!
and definetly smores

in time out said...

Heylllo, Came by to say thanks for being my blog friend. I have awarded you the NENO award....Have fun, pass it along, and thanks for the friendship. cyberhug...♥

An Ordinary Mom said...

I love the way you ended the post ... that is enough to make me one to go camping and we don't own any equipment ... yet :) !!

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