My mind filled with warm memories from my own childhood - s'mores, campfires, and creepy, flashlight illuminated trips to the bathroom in the middle if the night.
As the day loomed closer Hubs began emailing me long lists of necessary items. I seemed to have forgotten the sheer enormity of work required to spend a single night in the wilderness with 2 small children.
Thankfully for me, I am married to boy-scout-who-grew-into-engineer so I was able to smile, nod and think about s'mores and lightning bugs while he thought of things like food and shelter.
We packed the truck with more stuff than we usually take for our week-long summer vacation at the Cape, and we still had to stop on the way for ice and firewood.
Upon arrival at the site we first were greeted by an entire swarm of bees that had taken up residence on our picnic table. We discovered they weren't particularly aggressive but they also weren't keen on vacating our table. They crawled around searching for food as if they had confused themselves with flies.
While we debated the bee situation (buy Raid? burn table?) our youngest child was nearly carried off by mosquitos.
Then came the putting up of the tent. Now, putting up a tent isn't too difficult (especially when married to Boy Scout) but putting up a tent while running herd on 2 children is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle while someone steals the peices and replaces them with pieces from another puzzle.
Eventually though, the tent was up. We went to the lake and the playground, and then finally back to the campsite for dinner and campfire with friends.
Building a fire (step by step instructions)
Observe and snicker at nearby campfires.
Pass judgment on other's fire building techniques.
Tell friends about amazing talent at fire building.
Stack small sticks and paper in teepee shape.
Light and blow.
Smile smugly at cheerful fire.
Add larger wood, blow some more.
When larger logs fizzle and do not catch, frown and complain about wet wood.
Utilize more kindling and paper.
Poke, prod, blow and complain.
Contemplate lighter fluid.
Once larger logs are burning, obsessively poke and reposition logs for optimum air flow and even burning.
Many things were cooked over the fire and eaten. My children insisted (shockingly) on pasta cooked on the camp stove.
All the children were repeatedly saved from death by fire, then they lapsed into sugar comas and were trundled off to bed.
The adults chatted until the coals went dim (best part of camping ).
I shared a sleeping bag and a twin sized air mattress with the Wee One. It wasn't as bad as I expected - though he is a bed hog and I couldn't zipper the sleeping bag all the way. I'll have you know that sleeping bags are far less warm when your backside is hanging out the zipper.
The children were, as usual, up with the sun but we bribed them with Angry Birds to keep them quiet and avoid being murdered by neighboring campers.
The Wee One's only volume setting is "trying to be heard over a noisy crowd" and though his high pitched voice is cute - it's Too Damn Loud.
At some point I exited the tent and shuffled off to the bathroom - looking like a bedraggled, hunch-backed, semi-frozen homeless person. Hubs took a photo.
When one of our friends offered to make a Dunks run, I nearly wept with joy.
Hubs made pancakes on the camp stove while shooing our new pets - the pesky fly-bees.
We took the kids out in a canoe (can I play Angry Birds?), then to the beach (can I have a snack?), then out to lunch (can we go home?).
Upon arrival home additional work awaited us: tent maintenance, cleaning and putting away camping stuff, and 14 loads of laundry.
At tubby time the filthy, sticky boys were showered and scrubbed while the water in the bottom of the tub ran brown with DEET, dirt and soot.
Once they were tucked into bed Hubs and I collapsed onto the couch and didn't even make it through one TV show before nodding off.
I would like to bow respectfully to my grandparents, who took 6 children camping in the days before easy-up tents and iPhones, and to my own parents who took my sister and I into the woods and didn't leave us there.