Jeff and I met in the year 2000. Mariah was about to turn 8 and Ayleanna was 4-1/2. I had done some camping when I was kid with my family, but not enough to really remember much. And then I did a little camping as a Girl Scout over the years, but honestly that was more about the interaction in a Girl Scout troop and a wide variety of activities and camaraderie rather than actual camping or learning outdoors skills. Then as an adult I had been camping twice – literally. I had wanted to go camping, but I had two kids and a full time job and a husband who worked two jobs and he really had no interest in going camping. Also, we had no camping equipment at all and getting the basics needed to camp was outside our budget.
Jeff, on the other hand, grew up in Colorado. He grew up in the great outdoors and spent a lot of time camping, both as a child and as an adult. Needless to say, this was on his short list of things we would do together as a couple. Long story short, he already had a tiny two person pup tent and a couple other basic things. I borrowed sleeping bags from my parents (could really only remember using these things inside our house during sleepovers LOL) and a cooler from my mom and we were off.
We’ve been camping ever since. For years, there were rangers at our closest state park who knew us by name. We were there as many weekends as we could manage to afford. Ayleanna took to camping like a fish takes to water. Mariah, on the other hand, usually looked like she was reinacting a scene from some Disney movie with the prim and proper young lady who is stranded in the outdoors. Over time she adjusted. When I say “she adjusted” I mean she participated because she had to. She didn’t even really complain much and occasionally she would even get good and dirty playing in the river and mud with her sister. But, for the most part, she didn’t love it. Not like the rest of us.
As soon as she was old enough to make a good argument she started asking if she could stay with grandma for the weekend instead of going camping. Occasionally we’d make her go camping, but mostly she got some one on one time with grandma instead.
As a teenage I don’t recall her ever going camping with us and as a young adult (around age 19) she would come out to the campground with us and leave before we went to sleep, so basically she would daytrip with us. HAHA A few years ago when we bought our first camper that was parked in a seasonal site, she would come out and enjoy that time with us and even spend the night. LOL There was a time since then when she went to a music festival and borrowed our tent to sleep in while she was at that event and that’s about the closest she’s come to camping as an adult.
With all this said, imagine my surprise when earlier this month, Mariah, who just turned 26, asked to borrow our tent and sleeping bags and folding chairs. I knew she was taking a two week long vacation, heading across the country for another music festival but I assumed she’d be staying at Air BnBs, hotels, etc. Instead she’s going to camp while crossing the country and coming back.
Each time I brought up the subject, she kept saying “It’s just a place to sleep, mom.” But deep down I secretly knew I know that her life is about to change. I thought two weeks traveling with a tent will make or break her. She’ll have a horrible time and hate camping more than ever or she will struggle to pitch the tent and fight the logs getting a fire started and then she will sit back and hear how peaceful her surroundings are and see how beautiful everything looks when you’re looking at it from a camping chair parked next to a tent you struggled to put up and in front of a front you built with your own two hands.
She left with a car full of camping gear, high hopes of seeing some cool stuff and a website called freecampsites.com.
I received a few texts about how to set up the tent, which she apprently figured out…
Then the next night I received a myriad of texts looking for instructions on building a campfire, and then after she got the fire lit and sent a photo of that, I received this photo…
And this is how I knew we had her. It was working! She didn’t hate it and she was in awe of the beauty around her. Not that beauty has eluded her previously. I just always pictured her having to view it from a window or the balcony of a hotel room or a chair on a beach.
Honestly I had already thrown in the towel on thinking that I would share this passion with my oldest daughter and I’m not totally sure she loves it loves it the way I do, but I’m beyond happy that there really is a little “camper” inside her and I’m going to be able to share my love of camping with my daughter.