Friday, June 22, 2012

Taking the Indoors Out

Cape Lookout State Park

 I’ve wanted for a while to take my family camping, not just hiking or picnicking, but actual camping where we would sleep in tents and cook and eat outside. I’ve done quite a bit of camping in my life, but the rest of my family has not. Previously every time I broached the subject my wife gave me a concerned look and reiterated that she grew up in Los Angeles to non-outdoorsy parents.

Fine. I needed to start at the beginning. The very beginning. Perhaps the main thing I wanted to stress before the trip was that the weather could be cold and rainy and, yes, we would be dealing with it and not jumping into the car and fleeing to a hotel . In this regard our recent trip to the Oregon coast was perfect, in that it was cold and rainy two out of the three days we were there – and we survived!

The other Big Picture idea was to try to explain what the experience is all about. I told my kids camping is about bringing a limited amount of gear to a place and living simply and close to nature.

This was important as we stayed at Cape Lookout State Park, a popular place, with many huge RVs sporting satellite dishes, generators, and most all of the amenities of home. I wanted the kids to understand that basic camping requires practice and skill, using what you have at hand to make yourself comfortable. 

Added bonus: Kids actually used sleeping bags for intended purpose.

All the above points were lost on my seven-year-old, who when told we would be sleeping in a tent and having a campfire needed no additional information. My 10-year-old did ask me on a hike why I enjoyed camping.

“I like letting my mind drift,” I said. “When I see only trees, ocean and sky my brain feels relaxed.”

I don’t know if relaxing the mind was on her agenda, but she had a great time hiking and appreciated the general togetherness.

Another concept I tried to impart on the family was responsibility for oneself. In the morning I had the crew pack lunches which were stowed in day packs as well as a variety of snacks. This was liberating for me not to be the Sherpa of the group, telling whoever was thirsty or hungry to deal with it.
Interpretive poses inspired by mass media?

Generally everything went well. There was only one moment when the kids, feeling beaten down by the rain, sat in the car and listened to their iPods. They were cold and didn’t think of getting back into the tent, feeling that was a place only for sleep.

We heard three ranger talks, did lots of hiking, and visited the Oregon Aquarium. I opened my brain for some rather poignant campfire stories about an imagined Polynesian island (more on this later, much later). Other than some infected bug bites and constipation from the trail mix (problem now solved!) we are set for another round sometime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment