So this weekend was supposed to be our first big official camping odyssey as a family. The first time we would forgo the comforts of a cabin and camp old style, in a tent.
Nathan was excited. It is a long held dream of his to take his kids camping in the great outdoors and he spent the week getting everything ready and in place to finally make his dream a reality.
The kids were excited. They were looking forward to sleeping together in a tent, after spending the day swimming in the park swimming pool (they had it all planned out!)
The pugs were excited. Well, I guess they were as I don’t actually speak dog. But they certainly looked excited when they saw their harnesses getting ready for use and jumped up excitedly into their crate when it was time to leave.
As for me? I was not quite so excited. I love caravan parks. I love holidays with my family. I love leaving my responsibilities behind for a short time.
But I have to confess that camping, in a tent, does not make me feel all that excited. For all the very obvious and stereotypical reasons you’ve all heard before.
Despite my misgivings, I do want to find ways for us to get away more regularly as a family and enjoy holidays on a budget. Besides, this year represents our chance to explore the world, learn to make time for each other and to challenge each of us to go outside our comfort zones. So camping really does tick all those boxes, in a big way.
Time to pull up my big girl panties and get over myself…
As it turns out, camping is a serious business. In preparation for our trip we visited a caravan show and the number of products that I didn’t even know we needed was mind boggling. In the end we bought a 10 man tent, four inflatable mattresses, foot pump, a picnic set and new torches, although we could have bought a whole lot more. And we probably will, once we have proof that this camping gig is right for us.
To demonstrate our commitment to this new venture, we put up the 10 man tent during the week to judge just how hard it was going to be to setup. Despite having cross poles and interior room dividers it was reassuring to discover that it wasn’t going to take 10 hours of swearing to erect – it was maybe only going to take one or two hours instead!
We arranged for roof racks to be fitted on top of the car so we could take the dogs as well as everything else we needed to bring for our adventure. It took three hours to get everything packed and tied down and in place but finally we were packed up and ready to go.
Everything was in readiness. We were all set for a weekend away camping with the family.
Then this happened…
This was the sight that greeted us when we arrived – soggy ground and a great big puddle in the middle of our camp site!
Luckily we were staying in the same caravan park where my parents live so they came to our rescue and offered their caravan for the night while we waited for the weather to clear. Unfortunately it was still raining steadily with no signs of improvement by mid Saturday so we ended up having to pull the pin early on our adventure. It would not have been fair to continue to put my parents out by staying another night.
And, to be honest, it really wasn’t pleasant to listen to the continued complaints of our children who were bored with staying inside and devastated that they could not go swimming as planned.
The owners of the park were all apologies and provided a credit so we can come back on another weekend when the weather will hopefully be more conducive to camping. It was not their fault and we are very grateful for their generosity – we will definitely be back in the coming months to try again.
While I was not as excited as the others to camp and was happy enough to put off the inevitable discomfort for a little while, I found myself really disappointed that our trip did not turn out as it should. I did not feel unmitigated relief for dodging a bullet – rather I felt a little cheated that all our effort came to naught.
Perhaps I feel guilty that Nathan’s long held dream STILL hasn’t come true? Maybe I’m feeling for my children, particularly my son, who had their heart set on spending the weekend swimming in the pool? Or it could be the effect of the sad eyes of the pugs who were forced to go out in the rain to “do their business?”
Whatever the reason, I am truly sad that we still haven’t had that first real camping trip as a family.
And that is why we are going to continue to carry on camping until we do!