I have spent many nights camping in my lifetime but I have never really been a camper. I have always used camping just as an inexpensive form of accommodation. I have camped my way across Canada, throughout the Western United States, and our 14 month honeymoon included almost a year’s worth of sleeping in a tent. All of this and I am still not a camper you say? No, not really.
Campers immerse themselves into the act of camping while I am an explorer who uses the campsite as the location to sleep and to eat the first and last meal of the day. You can identify a true camper`s campsite by the massive tarps that circle the campfire (which is burning for most their stay). The sites are also cluttered by chairs, stoves, lanterns, toys and anything else that ‘enhance’ the overall camping experience. Their daily activities may include short walks, or a game of badminton, and their kids will be circling the campground all day long riding their bikes. For campers, camping is the experience. Our campsite in comparison would be one with the small tent, a one or two burner stove and the empty fire pit. That was before we had kids.
I have been thinking about summer trips as the weather starts to improve and I am hoping to take the family camping at least a few times this year. We have rarely been camping with kids, only once with the twins since they were born, and we know it will be a learning curve as we slow down and try to become campers. Last year I took our four year old out once at the end of the summer and it had many characteristics of what camping will be for the next while. Instead of exploring all day we spent the whole time within a 5 minute walk from our campsite. There were a few times when I felt anxious to go for a hike or walk into town, but for the most part I had fun. In the evening we set up the lawn chairs we brought and cooked our dinner on the fire I started. Our campsite was still far too empty to be considered a camper’s campsite but it was a step.
Most likely we will only go halfway towards being campers but we will have to see. Our camping trips will most likely have moments with some exploration but we will also feature more lawn chairs, fires, and cycling laps the campground more than they used to. Our site may still look a bit on the empty side as I am not a fan of stringing up lots of tarps, and our van cannot hold a campsites worth of clutter, but who knows what kind of campers we will be in a few years. All I know that if the twins get as excited about it as Annika does then camping will an important part of our future. I have to go now and practice starting a fire. Is summer here yet?