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Camping With Kids

July 27, 2012 - Theresa Proudfit
Some of my best childhood memories are of camping at Carney Lake with my parents, siblings and cousins. Jumping off the rope swing into the water, roasting marshmallows and playing card games. My brother, cousins and I would spend the day exploring the camp grounds and swimming until we were physically tired. Then eat, sleep and do it all over again the next day. It was easy and fun, at least that's how I remember it.

After about 14 years of being on the bottom of the seniority list and having to take my vacations in March and October, one of my co-workers gave me a couple of her July vacation days, (Thanks Terri, you're good people.) I knew exactly how I wanted to spend them. Away from the world, in the great outdoors seeking some peace and quiet. Or so I thought.

John and I started planning our camping trip a few days ahead of time. Made a list of food, drinks and supplies we would need and started slowly purchasing and packing our items as the date neared. My tent, which was over 15 years old had finally seen it's last days this May. The cover tore and the zipper broke during a birthday party for John's 9 year old. We were due for a new tent, but couldn't afford one. With our trip right around the corner we decided to borrow a couple tents for the week. One from my mother and one from John's niece.

We finished packing up all our things and loading them in the back of John's truck. With everything packed but the toilet (I'd say kitchen sink but we brought a makeshift one along) we looked like the Beverly Hillbilly's pulling out of town.

Off to Way Dam we go, winging it because the campsites are first come first serve and its the weekend following the fourth of July. We lucked out. Found a perfect spot. Best one on the lot. Timing was perfect because we saw a motor home pulling out as we were pulling in. Thanks guys.

First things first lets set up the tents. Brandon and I got the first one set up with no problem. The second one we had to wait to finish unpacking because we couldn't find the poles and stakes. After we had everything unloaded and put in its place, which took about an hour to do, we finally realized we have no stakes or poles for the 2nd tent. Luckily we had inadvertently brought the ones from my old tent and although they weren't the right size we made it work. Sort of. As long as there was no rain it would be fine.

By this time the kids were antsy to get in the water. "You have to put on your life jacket Cassidy and you have to wait for Auntie." Cassidy is my brothers youngest daughter who came along on the trip with us. Hannah, John's youngest, and Cassidy are good buddies. I love that girl. So much spirit. She reminds me of myself at her age. I was happy to have her with us. However, my brother having his baby girl out of the house for four days was pretty explicit about the rules for Cassidy and camping.

"Make sure she is wearing sun block, She has to wear her life jacket when she swims, someone must be watching her at all times and she sometimes sleep walks so make sure she doesn't leave her tent." he said. "Uh, Okay" I say "No bright lights, don't get her wet and watch her after midnight, sounds like Gizmo." If you don't remember Gizmo he was the cute cuddly Gremlin in the 1984 horror movie about a boys new pet.

So were mostly set up when I get a text from buddy Ron who has his pontoon boat on the reservoir. He was coming to get us. Yippee! A boat ride! Thanks Ron. The kids loved it. So did we. It was probably the most relaxing part of the trip. Although she fought with me about it Cassidy even wore her life jacket the whole time.

The life jacket thing didn't last long though, it wasn't the right size and it kept rubbing up on her face and she was getting a rash. So she swam with constant supervision and wasn't allowed past her belly with out her life jacket. They swam all day while I sat and watched them. Every once in a while I got up and swam with them. Then we ate and slept and they swam all day again. As long as they were in the water they were happy but as soon as I called them out to make dinner they were pouting. Next time we're throwing a life guard in the back of the truck.

The good thing about swimming all day is they were pooped at night. Unfortunately so was I. At least the first night. The second day/night we had company. My good friend Dani Kommando and her boys and my sister and her 3 kids came up for the night. We had a really fun day but by the end everyone was exhausted and went to bed early. I stayed up and sat by the beach. The stars were amazing. I can't remember ever seeing them so bright. Then, wait what is that green light? It's getting brighter. Ahhh the Northern lights! I hadn't seen them since college. Then what was that? Fireflies? They were. I don't remember seeing them since I was a child. What a beautiful peaceful night. This was the serenity I was looking for. Even if it was only an hour I cherished that peace. Then I went to bed got up and put in one more full day and night of swimming, grilling, playing cards, walking he beach and sleeping in a tent and then it was time to come home.

I do still love the great outdoors and summer camping trips, but I can appreciate my parents more after this one. Camping with kids is hard work. Thanks Mom and Dad for all the hard work you put into our trips growing up. They are special memories and I hope to keep the tradition going.


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