When our children were small and we had very little money, we only took two kinds of vacations. We spent a week with my family in another state and we spent part of a week tent camping in the abundant camping spots near our home. Our children still plan a summer camping trip each year and go to the same places we took them as children. Now they're introducing their children to those places and the joys and hardships of tent camping.
Many things have changed at those camp sites. One spot now has flush toilets and rangers who patrol the area. Trails are marked better. Where we encountered only a handful of other campers, now the camp sites number over a hundred and most are filled, many with fancy camp trailers, and instead of hiking and wading in the creek, the children race their bikes up and down paved roads.
Much has stayed the same. No one cares how dirty the kids get. Food tastes better cooked over a campfire. Squirrels and chipmunks still scavenge for dropped crumbs. Melted marshmallows smashed between two graham crackers and a chocolate bar are pure ambrosia. There's something fascinating and mysterious about a tent, though sometimes the tent isn't quite so thrilling when night comes and with it bedtime. There's time to talk and laugh together without the distraction of television. Unfortunately there are now telephones.
Getting everything together for a camping trip and cleaning up afterward often make young parents wonder if the experience is worth it. In the end though our children must think it is because they treasure the memories from their childhood camping trips enough to want to give their children equally warm and enduring memories.
A few pictures from last week's camping expedition:
And a few from those long ago camping trips: