I Think I Hate Camping

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Every summer, I try to build up enough momentum to go camping with the kids. A group of families from the kids’ school go camping together, with comraderie and nature appreciation reputedly high. It’s a perfect opportunity.

My husband, a seasoned and hardy camper, doesn’t want to go. Or rather, he doesn’t want to go with me. He suspects that I will be uncomfortable and unhappy, and experience suggests that means he will be uncomfortable and unhappy.

Still I push for it because I lack self-knowledge it’s supposed to be so fun, so Canadian, so great for kids! Elisa’s camping exploits make me think maybe I can do it too! And I fall for the romance of camping, lulled by its siren call, and always feel a little inadequate that we don’t go.

And this, in spite of having ready and sometimes exclusive access to my in-laws’ positively stunning cottage on an island in Georgian Bay. It is so ruggedly beautiful there, I honestly can’t imagine anything better. The children have free run of the place, usually with a gaggle of cousins and friends. It’s a ton of fun, so Canadian, and so great for kids.

hate camping cottage outdoors summer

Yet, even with this amazing privilege of cottage access, I struggle with the reality of not wanting to camp. That is, until this summer. From our cottage’s huge windows I watched the rain with a guilty thrill of self-preservation as it poured for hours and hours on a day I knew my friends were camping. One friend’s child broke a collarbone horsing around in the tent – she later confessed that their hours in the emergency hospital room were a welcome break from the pounding rain.

I was so thoroughly glad I wasn’t there, so glad my reality won out over romance: I hate camping.

I don’t want to live and not-sleep in a small triangular tarp. I don’t want to swelter during the daytime and shiver at night. I don’t want to be fodder for mosquitoes and other critters, and I don’t want to eat rehydrated product from MEC. I don’t want to carry heavy packs and – oh, please – I don’t want to carry upside-down boats. I really, really don’t want to sleep on the ground. I’m a brown-skinned immigrant – we spend our whole lives trying to get off the damn ground.

Unlike Nathalie, who knows and embraces her distaste of camping, and Kelly Quinn, who knows even glamping can go wrong, I might find myself one day camping with my family because I fall for romance, and romance says it’s so fun, so Canadian, so good for kids! That is, if my husband, in a weak moment, agrees to go with me.

But really it would be better if he doesn’t agree, and I don’t go. Because wanting to be the mom who wants to go camping does not a mom who wants to go camping make. Because there are other ways to love the outdoors, and make wonderful memories with your kids.

But especially because I’m gonna hate it.

hate camping cottage outdoors summer

13 thoughts

  1. It’s a good thing Ben did’nt follow the age old Canadian custom of wife selection “never marry a woman until you have been on a canoe camping trip with her”. Thanks for your appreciation of our cottage. Peter

  2. A seasoned camper?! Are you sure he is? I thought Ben’s father was all that too, until we gave it a try in our 50’s, on the exquisite Bustard Islands in Georgian Bay in perfect weather me a mattress that leaked, tent positioned on an incline – it didn’t work for me and did absolutely nothing for our relationship. Seems to me that you are thinking clearly! Happy times from your ever loving mother in law, Judy

  3. Ug, Carol. I go camping every summer (once in the winter even) and every year I hate it. Every year I’m miserable and grumpy and I never learn! Know yourself and your limitations.

    1. Thank you for the validation, Barb! The next time you’re facing a camping trip, call me. I’ll hold your hand and we’ll say no. more. camping. together!

  4. Our family has learned to love camping (but we haven’t tried it in the rain yet). But I wholeheartedly salute a mother’s right to not do the thing she hates. It’s the best thing about being grown-up, and the key to a mother-person’s happiness.

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