As always My Story is from my point of view. You can read my disclaimer here.
My niece is getting married this weekend so we are traveling to Michigan, the land of my husband's birth, to celebrate with her and her fiance. We will get to spend time with all my in laws at my husband's parents' house on a small lake. I have always believed that the ocean was the greatest body of water ever. Until last summer. Last summer, I got to sit by shore of the lake, reading my book, watching the kids play in the shallow, quiet waters of the lake. It was warm and sunny. This was where my husband spent his summers as a child. The house was not there, it was just a trailer on a piece of lake front property, but it holds so many memories for my husband. I could get use to life at the lake.
My childhood summer memories are centered around camping. My family would meet up with my cousins and their parents at Jedediah State Park in the Redwood forest in northern California. We would sleep in tents, walk through the redwoods, swim in the river and take part in the junior ranger programs. I remember washing dishes on the picnic table and then the littlest kids being washed in those same dishpans. I remember having a lot of freedom to explore with my brothers and cousins. Occasionally we would go canoeing or tubing on the river. I learned about ferns and moss, redwoods and cooking on a propane camping stove. We caught our marshmallows on fire because we liked our s'mores crispy.
I also remember looking for the missing kid, who was always found. My parents having trouble with the air mattress they brought for their tent. The hard ground under our sleeping bags. The rain. Wet tents that kept you dry as long as you did not touch the side of the tent. Being scared of the dark in my own tent. I wish though that I remembered more, that I was able to hold onto more of the memories.
I have wonderful memories of camping. But at some point we stopped camping. I don't know why. We stopped packing the van and tents and started staying home more.
The idea of camping seems so romantic and relaxing to me. But the logistics involved, the dirt, the shared bathrooms, the sleeping on the ground, the cost of all the equipment and the fact that neither my husband nor I are the outdoorsy type and I realize that we will probably never take our kids camping. I feel like we "should" take them camping, give them the typical childhood camping experience. I feel a little bad that we are not willing to sacrifice our comfort and clean sheets for tents and camping for our boys. But I am willing to get over the guilt. We can still visit Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, we will just stay in the nice, clean, warm hotels nearby. That is why they built hotels near national parks, right?