(go out) where the wild things are

my wife and i have a lot of love for the outdoors–let me give you an idea about the scope of this love…my wife is the adventurous sort and spent a significant amount of time hiking, camping, canoeing–and even tracking wolves (true story) in the wilderness…she is a tough one…and i spent TEN summers (count ’em) working at outdoor summer camps…both of us camped with our families in our youth…given this, it’s not surprising that we hoped to pass on ‘the love’ to our two little ones when the time was right…well, that ‘right time’ happened this past fourth of july weekend…when we decided to bring our 2-1/2 year-old twins ‘camping’ with us (for the first time)…

i realize that some of you might ask the questions, why, on God’s green earth would you do that?! are you completely nuts?!  we had the same thoughts, believe me, as we prepared for this adventure…anyways, camping is in quotes above because we drove up to my wife’s uncle’s cabin and set up our tent outside…we deemed this…Level 2Level 1 was the time (a few days before the overnight experience) when we set up the tent in the backyard and had the kids play around in it (as we talked about the upcoming trip)…see photos from both levels below…

Level 1- Backyard

Level 1 – in the backyard

Level 2 - Jack and Daddy (near family cabin)

Level 2 – tenting near the family cabin


though we had my wife’s family and a few other comforts nearby, it was still a sufficient new challenge for our family…with the new family sized tent and other gear (much more than we were used to when we camped as ‘singles’ or ‘married’s without children’–the stuff that accumulates when you have kids, in general, is out of control–every new parent has asked themselves, how did this happen to me?!…camping is no different)…while it was some work, it was a helluva-lot of fun, too (and it was just one night, we’re not trying to be heroes here;)…all in all, it was really great to see how excited the kids were about playing in the lake, hiking, picking up sticks, reading books, playing games, hanging out by the campfire & cooking up some s’mores, and sleeping outside in the tent (notice i didn’t mention anything about tv, movies, or hand-held digital devices–they were excited about nature, people!!!)…it was like doing it for the first time (again)!

since this first trip was so promising…we planned another overnight at a local campsite (on our own)…what we’re calling Level 3…later this summer…i’ll let you know how it goes and if we continue to go outwhere the wild things are…

proposition: take your kids camping with you…seeing your love for nature will inspire theirs…

i realize that not all parents like camping…that’s o.k….if i relied completely on myself to teach jack and grace everything they needed to know about life–they would be SOL…heh, heh…and the longer i work with the kids the more i realize that it does, in fact, take a village to bring them up well in our world today…the good thing is…like us, most people have a core group of amazing ‘stand-in’ or ‘shadow’ or ‘mirror’ or ‘mimic’ parents in their lives; known entities who they can rely on in all kinds of situations (the folks at boys town in omaha, nebraska call these people ‘assistant family teachers’–and i like that)…and there’s probably a few of these people who like to camp…they might be grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and/or family friends (adults who are positive, responsible, and trustworthy)–so, try to connect your children with them…see if they might be willing to bring your children camping with them the next time they go…if that’s not an option, there are 100’s of quality camps to send kids to across the country (many of these camps have scholarships for kids, if financing is an issue)…

footnote: camping can be a “really affordable good time” for your family…sure, like anything, you can spend huge amounts of cash on the provisions–there are countless specialized stores and outfitters who would love for you to do so;)…but, you can also do it “on the cheap”…by either borrowing equipment from friends and family…or, laying down an initial expense for some key/quality items–a tent, sleeping bags/mats and cooking gear, etc–after that, you’re good to go, but for some minor up-grades/additions throughout your life course–it’s an investment worth making, i think…and the sites at state and national parks are very reasonable (compared to the costs of resorts or amusement parks)…



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