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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Martin family has big news. Huge. Wait for it…wait for it…The Martins have become a camping people. I know. It’s true. Shocking and true. Betcha didn’t see that one come now did ya? Did ya?

I was raised in a clan of camping people. But, for some reason, maybe it’s my oober-girly nature, I was just not a super huge fan of camping all the time. I actually – in my pre-teen years – began to refer to it as “The C-Word;” oh, that dreaded C-Word. And for years, my mom and I, upon seeing gray, rainy, cold and miserable weather would say, “Ahh, it’s perfect camping weather!” We did have a bad-camping-weather curse though. There’s no argument with that. My poor dad, he was definitely the pro-camper and got no camping respect from his peeps, that’s for sure.

So, over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mike if he’d want to start camping. Mike’s only been camping once in his life, I believe, with some cousins when he was young. His answer to any camping-related question was, “Why?” He was in this strange school of thought where camping should be heading out into nature with just the clothes on your back and maybe a pocket knife…or you might as well just stay home and be comfortable. “What’s with all this, ‘bring everything but the kitchen sink with you when you pack’ business?” he would wonder.

As you may know, Mike and I are a presenting team for Engaged Encounter – we present to couples some tools for marriage, some ideas of ‘do’s and don’ts’, if you will. So, I did what any good wife would do: I went out, knowing Mike wasn’t campily-pumped-up, and bought an 8-person tent and a bunch of camping gear for Mike for Father’s Day. Yea! It’s hard to say no to camping when you have a really cool, big tent.

It has been suggested – by some of my experienced camping friends – that we should take some baby-steps into becoming a camping family. So, this past weekend, we did our first camp-out…in the backyard. We pitched the tent, broke in the air mattress and the boys’ new sleeping bags. We BBQed dinner and then really roughed it – we ate dinner in the house while doing ‘family movie night.’ (Hey, I did say this is BABY steps into camping, my friends.)

We even made S’mores on the gas grill. Did you know that there’s a new generation of S’mores? Things have sure changed from my camping days. Now, instead of the old graham cracker, Hershey milk chocolate bar, marshmallow combo, you can seriously shake it up with your toasted marshmallow, graham cracker and REECE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP. Genius, people! Pure inspired genius.

The boys had so much fun ripping around in the new tent…until…they discovered that two flies had gotten in while the flap door was left ajar. This is a problem. This is why we need to start getting the boys into nature. They’ve seriously dropped the ball on the whole boys-and-bugs front. Why am I still the one having to kill spiders?! I thought having TWO boys bought me an immediate pass from having to kill bugs for the next 18-20 years! So, heaven forbid a couple of flies sneak into our tent. After we recovered and accepted the fact that bugs MAY just be a part of camping, Matthew suddenly realized he’d forgotten something in the house. I don’t know how he could have since half his bedroom came out to the tent. He ran in and came back out with two small plastic, food storage containers. One has a plastic frog in it and the other has a plastic snake. They’re covered with wax paper and holes are poked in the top to allow ventilation for these “pets.” I thought that Matthew was thinking of releasing them to the wild, but apparently he just wanted his snake and frog to come camping with us.

Finally, we were all tucked in and ready to tell “scary stories” – their idea, not mine. Matthew’s scary story was about John Deeres-gone bad and angry, mean dirt. I’m serious. Zach’s scary story was, well, completely incoherent. It went something like this: “Once-a-time, there was…and it was scary…and everybody was spooky…and it was dark…The End.” Kind of a modern work of prose, really. Deep. It was just too existential and profound for me apparently.

Eventually – after yet another trip into the house for yet another potty stop – we fell asleep for the night. I’d say, all in all, camping was a big success. Except for the darn crows. What’s with birds, right? Right? They were so freakin’ loud at like 6:30 in the morning! Hello! We’re camping here! Could you keep it down? We did, at least, have the sound of the neighbors’ three-tier waterfall to listen to as we drifted in and out of consciousness. So, that was kind of naturey...and campey.

In the morning, the boys were so proud of themselves for camping. I said, “Yes, you were great campers! We’ll definitely be ready for our real camping trip at the end of August!” (We’re doing a weekend with our soul mate family: Jason – tall, quieter, computer nerdy like Mike. Rebecca – dark, curly hair, likes running, reading, writing, wine, chocolate and coffee, exceptionally beautiful…sound familiar? And their two boys Joshua and Noah.)

“We’re camping by a lake!” I told the boys expecting cheers and general exultation of excitement.

“Um, no,” Matthew said, “We can’t.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because are there woods? Will we be camping in the woods?”

“Well, yeah, there will be plenty of trees. It’s not like we’re camping in a parking lot,” I told him.

Yeah, no. Apparently, that’s not going to work for him.

“The woods are too dark and scary,” Matthew said.

“And there are creatures,” Zach piped in.

“Yeah,” Matthew agreed, “I don’t want to go camping in the woods.”

“Me neither,” said Zach.

So, we’re a camping family…in our backyard. For now. We’ve got six weeks to pump up our brave, outdoorsy boys for actual camping. Six weeks. I think we’ll need six weeks.

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