If you’ve never played “let’s see who can be silent for the longest” then you’ve clearly never been on a road trip with your kids. I mean…if texting and driving is considered dangerous, I don’t even want to know what the fine would be for parenting and driving.
There’s nothing that refines your gross motor skills quite like driving a car through unfamiliar terrain at high speed, whilst dislocating your own shoulder in an attempt to search out a discarded Minnie Mouse drink bottle whilst simultaneously refereeing an argument about who gets to rest their arm on the booster seat arm rest and repeating for the 314 thousandth time through gritted teeth “no we are not there yet”. Ahh good times. Memories are being made people! Breathe it in!
So, knowing all this, like the fresh faced optimists we are, over the summer holidays my husband and I decided to spend lots of money to pretend we were homeless people and packed up our entire house to take our three kids on their first camping trip with some
hapless idiots who agreed to come with us friends.
I’m not gonna lie; straight up, there were a few unforeseen roadblocks.
Summer fire restrictions dictated that we couldn’t actually have a camp fire. In hindsight, I get it. It’s summer. We live in Australia. Ideally, we’d prefer not to be responsible for burning down the outback.
the hapless idiots our travelling companions texted me ahead of our departure telling me we probably wouldn’t be able to have a fire and I was like “What are you TALKING about??? OF COURSE WE WILL. So long as it’s contained in a fire pit it’ll be fine” and other such knowledgeable assurances like “My husband is a fire fighter! He extinguishes fires for a living! He is a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL. If anyone should be allowed to have a camp fire, it will be us. Besides he would have mentioned this to me if we couldn’t have a camp fire“.
As it turns out.
He did know.
He did not mention it to me.
So that was thirty less minutes of camp site activity I had up my sleeve set aside for the collection of logs and sticks for my children to take part in, and a whole lot more time for… for… mmm. Yes. Exactly.
This also meant that we couldn’t toast marshmallows on the camp fire which, as we all know, is one of the only reasons anyone even wants to go camping in the first place. So god knows what we were going to eat after I spent our entire food budget on giant novelty roasting mallows.
But, because I am a genius and a PROBLEM SOLVER and a savant survivalist ready for anything; the looming apocalypse, second coming of Yeezus, future host of smash hit original TV series Liv versus Wild, Bear Grylls eat your heart out [and I brought half the small electrical appliances I have in my home, in case of emergency] we ended up toasting marshmallows on the toasted sandwich maker [yes we had a powered camp site because what am I, an animal?] as I loudly extolled how clever I am for anyone and everyone to hear, which everyone really really loved.
And this was all well and good until I had to clean the thing when I got home and my kids learnt four new swear words and we all now may die a slow grizzly death of Teflon poisoning.
But also. Another small iss-yoo we encountered.
This guy didn’t show up.
And finding this image online of this chick stumbling upon shirtless Chris Hemsworth while she was camping with her boyfriend was basically the entire reason I agreed to go in the first place. Free range Hemsworths in the wild. Well apparently there are not packs of these guys running around raiding peoples camp rations after all. Chrisappointment.
But, despite the Hems-worthlessness of the trip, like on most of the adventures we go on with our children, I learnt a shit tonne of things I could have lived quite happily without knowing. Because whenever I decide to do anything that involves the kids, I tend to end up filing it under ‘this will all just be a funny anecdote we tell at a civilised dinner party whilst drinking martinis and eating turducken one day’.
Now I know vital pieces of information like you’re never too old to say “Horses!!!” when you drive by horses and that this simultaneously helps to remind your husband, the designated long haul driver, how long ’til death do you part’ actually is.
And that your kids will happily repay you for giving them the camping adventure of a life time and letting them stay up late, eating toasted [sandwich maker] marshmallows by rising with the sun. The sun which will rise earlier than the sun ever has in the history of the world, a miracle of Mother Nature that must be celebrated with the loudest most shrill voices that only truly free spirited children who are #atonewithnature can muster.
Things like….when camping, your worth as a human being is determined by how quickly your husband can pitch a tent…
Long and short of it? Camping with kids? It’s intents.
Despite all of the preceding bitching and moaning, in my mind, there are still plenty of good reasons to go camping. And not just the obvious, no shit sherlock, smug wanker ones like “kids love the outdoors” and “the opportunity to reconnect with nature” and anything that involves the word “unplug”. For future reference, I don’t unplug. Life support or mobile devices [husbands and future medical practitioners take note]. Camping is more fun with [Facebook] friends. And by friends, I mean wifi. Because if you’re camping and you don’t post it on Instagram, did it really happen at all?
Need more proof you should get your camp on? Read on, friends.
1. I was lucky enough to have some sort of allergic reaction to, I dunno, like…fresh air or the salt of gods green earth or slow internet connection or something, and my face ended up looking like that dead guy from Men in Black and on our second day I was all like;
This made me appreciate my normal, non dead alien guy face way more. Go camping, it makes you feel less ugly in your actual life.
2. We all should have a time in our lives when we live on the edge and take our personal safety into our own hands. My generation missed out on tinder, so we have to have some way to feel like we are gambling with the possibility of a good time or probable death. And everyone knows that the great outdoors are full of fields, trees, and serial killers on the run. Go camping. Live a life on the edge.
3. Fulfil your crunchy mum goals. It’s not enough to just put photos of the organic grass fed quinoa smoothie bowl with fermented cod liver oil that you made after your 5am bikram yoga class on Instagram anymore. You have to sleep outside and put it on Instagram. No one needs to know that you went and ate a deep fried Kangaroo schnitzel that rivalled your own body weight at the pub in the town nearby for dinner. Besides… there are Kangaroos everywhere in the outback; it’s legit #fieldtofork #farmtotable #pasturetoplate #skippytostomach – there are whole hashtag movements for this kind of palaver!
4. It’s amazing the people you meet when you’re camping. I mean, I’ll be honest, in my every day life I live by a motto that all I need to be happy is cherry ripes, coffee and strangers not to talk to me. When I’m camping however… I’m exactly the same.
The friends we went camping with however, apparently LOVE to talk to new people they meet in a creek bed or in line for the long drop. And I was none too pleased about this fact until one of those [actually very nice, lovely, normal, non serial killer] new people happened to mention he was an ER doctor and I was like, well now we can all sleep safely in the knowledge that if someone gets bitten by a rogue Hemsworth in the night, there is medical advice at our very doorstep. And that’s one less anxiety attack for me to have before bed about waking up dead. Go camping. Meet non serial killer, off duty medical professionals.
5. Camping = the cheapskate vacation. I’m told camping qualifies as a cheap holiday [although for the amount we spent I’m pretty sure we could have flown in to the Cannes Film Festival via private jet chartered by the Kardashians with a similar outlay]. Camping is a great option when you want to sleep somewhere other than your own home but also avoid the awkwardness of being heavy handedly escorted out of an IKEA display bedroom. #winning
6. Camping is a good excuse to wear a neckerchief. Cartoon campers and 1997 teen pop idol Taylor Hanson always wear neckerchiefs. I don’t actually know what for but why risk being without it in case the need arises? When in life do you get to walk around wearing a neckerchief? That shit just doesn’t happen. Seize life by the balls and tie a hanky around your neck. You’ll never feel more alive.
So, of course, a few unanswered questions remain. Have I completely given up my five-star tropical resort loving ways in favour of the simple life and the sodden earth of the wilderness? Will I start buying waterproof pants with zip off knees from Macpac? Will I let my husband buy a camper trailer from gumtree? Tune into the next episode of definitely fucking not.