Adventures in Camping

(Originally posted:  02/18/06)

Yesterday, I took my three oldest kids on their first camping trip.  Like most things in life, it did not turn out as planned!

We had been planning this trip for about two weeks.  We were going to some property that belonged to the family of a close friend.  It wasn’t truly out in the “wild”, but it was away from town, and surrounded by trees.  I thought it was a pretty good location for our first outing.  However, we were unable to confirm that we could use the property, so at the last minute, we had to change plans.  With no other last minute alternative, we ended up camping out in our back yard instead.

I was disappointed, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  With no firewood, and no good place to build a fire in our back yard, we had gas-grilled hotdogs for dinner, and micro-waved s’mores for dessert.  The kids were constantly running in and out of the house to go to the bathroom or get something that they forgot to bring out, and the dogs were having a fit to come into the tent.  It was not turning out to be the adventure I had envisioned when they had first asked me to take them camping.

After dinner, we sat around the lantern in the tent, and made up our best adventure story.  Christian told one about SpongeBob meeting Winnie-the-Pooh in the woods.  Johahna told one about a girl who wore marshmallow pants, and Michaela told one about a handsome frog who was turned into an ugly prince by the Wicked Witch.

When it came time for me to tell a story, I decided it was time to introduce them to one of my favorite books, and the prequel to arguably one of the greatest stories every written.  I started reading them “The Hobbit”.  Two of them were asleep by the end of chapter one, and Johahna only lasted to the end of the second chapter.

Amazingly though, they all three stayed out with me all night, even though it was pretty cold (I think it got down in the low 40’s).  When we woke up this morning, they all needed a potty break, and decided that they wanted to go inside to have oatmeal for breakfast and watch cartoons.  I couldn’t help feeling that the camping trip was a complete failure.

Nothing that I had planed had work out the way I had hoped.  No gathering and cutting up fire wood.  No cooking hotdogs on a stick.  No making s’mores the old fashioned way.  No stories around the campfire.  No campfire breakfast.  In fact, we didn’t do anything that couldn’t have been done in our living room.  However, after breakfast, while I was cleaning up the kitchen, I began to listen in on their conversation.  They were still talking about their “adventure” from last night.  They were laughing at some of the silly jokes I told while we were setting up camp.  Christian and Johahna were arguing about who would get to tell about the s’mores during share time at school next week.  I also heard them making up new stories with Hobbits in them.  They even asked if we could make it a tradition to read some of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings books every time we go camping.  (I guess we’ve got a lot of camping to do if we are going to get through all four books before they go off to college!).  The only thing they were disappointed in was that I said we could not go camping again tonight!

I guess the moral to this story is this:  If you learn to take life as it comes, you will enjoy it a lot more.  My kids had the best time because they went in with no grand expectations about what was going to happen.  Instead, they enjoyed the moment for what it was: a new adventure.  On the other hand, I created a complete scenario that I wanted to take place, and was disappointed when it didn’t work out.  You can never be sure of what life is going to throw at you, and although it is wise to plan ahead, you will enjoy life more by learning to “roll with the punches” instead of trying to force things that you have no control over to run according to your plans.

Anyone else ever had an experience like this?

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