2

7 Butters in a Tent ~ Part II

family camping

Okay now, where was I? Oh yes, camping.

So, as it turns out, packing for camping was not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be. Considering the fact that all our meals were coordinated and prepared by the big amazing group that we went with, and I was only in charge of one side dish (potato chips), it cut out a huge amount of stressful planning. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a planner. I’m sort of a “wanna be” planner. Like, I can totally see how much easier my life would be if I actually did plan, and if I was good at it. But I’m not. And anyways, that is neither here nor there because I didn’t have to plan meals so I was pretty psyched. The biggest and best advice people gave us leading up to the camping trip was to not get there after dark on the first night because it is a huge pain in the neck having to set up camp in the dark. So at least we didn’t do that.

Just kidding, of course we did that! Did you really think that I was going to be able to pack up 5 kids to survive in the woods for 3 days and actually leave my house on time? I can’t even get them to school on time and all I have to do is pack them Cheez-its and a juice bag. I was literally still doing essential camping laundry when my husband got home from work early, so we could leave early, and we could get to the campsite early. (Seriously, does he know me at all?)

Relatively speaking, though, the first night wasn’t too bad. My 5-year-old only screamed and sobbed hysterically for about 20 minutes (at approx. 10:30pm) begging to be taken home, claiming that she hates the woods, and demanding to know why we were doing this. I tried my best to remain calm and to soothe her in my super quiet camping voice while explaining how much fun it was going to be to sleep in a freezing cold tent on an uncomfortable air mattress with the entire family and no television.

Saturday morning I realized that air mattresses don’t stay inflated very well. Somehow during the night I became entangled in a blanket, and the air mattress that I was sleeping on (along with 3 children) deflated just enough so that we all rolled to the middle and then kind of became folded up like a taco. Which, you know, whatever, I could have stayed sleeping like that if my alarm hadn’t gone off at 5am waking 5 out of the 7 of us up from a dead sleep and setting off the scramble of a lifetime as we tried to locate the phone amongst the half-deflated mattress and tangled blankets. The rest of Saturday was a delightful mix of Bocce Ball, beer, and bonfires. There was only one dodgy spot when my girls got into a kick fight in the bathroom…but it was just a quick little scrap with no blood shed, so it’s almost like it didn’t even happen. Dinner was so great, too, and at least none of my kids puked all over the ground while we were in line.

Kidding again. Of course one of my kids started puking in the dinner line. There I was loading up my plate with hot dogs and hamburgers and steak tips with one hand, and balancing my 3-year-old on my hip with my other hand, when I heard the first tell-tale “erp”. Holy Mother of God! She’s going to ralph! I’m pretty sure everyone in line was psyched because, really, nothing is more enjoyable than standing in the woods all starving and dirty and having someone else’s kid vomit all over your shoe.

On Sunday I realized just how dirty we were when we made a quick family trip to the store. As soon as we got out of the car and were among people of the non-camping variety we suddenly looked like dirty scrappy people who lived in the woods. I tried to confidently embrace our filth and pretend that we were simply part of some grubby yet peace-loving cult, but of course my boys started wrestling in the parking lot which meant that we were really part of some grubby and belligerent cult. We quickly about-faced and beat it back to the safety of our smelly tent.

Monday morning we were ready, but sad, to leave. Packing up wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. And at least one of the boys didn’t decide at the last minute to jump in the lake fully clothed.

Kidding.Unfortunately.

Other than the tent, the deflating air mattresses, the filth, the bugs, and the soaking wet 9-year-old, it was seriously the BEST weekend ever. The group of people that we went with (all 250+ of them) are absolutely, hands-down, the greatest people around. I would sit in my own filth around a bonfire and drink a beer with them any day. As for next year’s trip, I can sum it up in one sentence: There will be 7 Butters in a rented RV.

6

7 Butters in a Tent ~ Part I

An old camping trip with my sister and brothers...being eaten alive by bugs! (My other brother is taking the picture.)

An old camping trip with my sister and brothers…being eaten alive by bugs! (My other brother is taking the picture.)

So we’re going camping this weekend.

Camping.

As in “sleeping-in-a-tent-by-the-light-of-the-moon” camping. This seemed like a good idea about 3 months ago when we signed up, now I’m starting to see my life flash before my eyes. We’re not typically campers. And by that, I mean that we don’t camp. At all. Ever. Even my husband (who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and who I’m pretty sure could climb Mt. Everest with no training while wearing shorts and flip flops) has never camped. The only one of us in the entire family who has ever slept outside in a tent is me. Me. And that was way back in the day when all I had to do to prepare for camping was to grab my pillow, get in the back seat of the car, and complain about the long drive. I grew up camping. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Until one fateful weekend when my sister and brothers and I were all in our 20s and we decided to drive up to the mountains and camp on our own. We grabbed the old tent, a few sleeping bags, packed some snacks, and we were off. Big mistake. Holy crap, did it suck! It will forever be remembered as the camping trip that made us all hate camping (and wonder why we ever liked it to begin with.) First of all, who the hell can light a campfire? Not us, obviously. And omigod, there were SO many bugs! Like zillions and zillions of flying insects swarming around our heads at all times. It was awful and gross and inescapable. And then there were the chipmunks. I do not know WHAT happened in the years between then and now, but these chipmunks had balls of steel. In the old days we would sit there for hours trying to coax one of those cute little rodents to take a peanut out of our hands. Not anymore. These new and improved chipmunks were coming right up onto our picnic table as we were eating. Right up onto it! And they would actually take the food right off our plates. I tried to shoo one away and I swear I saw it give me the finger. We spent the better part of that first day running around the campsite screaming in horror. Needless to say, we had booked that campsite for the whole weekend and within 24 hours we were packed up and heading back to civilization.

And that was it…until now. Now there is a chance that I am voluntarily dipping my toe back into the pool of camping hell.

This time, I am not just unprepared…I am WOEFULLY unprepared. We borrowed a tent and a few air mattresses, but other than that we are pretty much screwed.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, the camping trip this weekend sounds like it is going to be perfectly fab. There are over 50 families from our town going, and that includes almost every single one of my amazingly awesome neighbors. Plus, from what I hear we are right down the street from a liquor store, so at least there’s that. It does kind of seem like this weekend almost has no way of NOT being awesome. I’m being cautiously optimistic. But still… 7 Butters in a tent? I don’t know how any good can come of that. I’ll keep you posted…