When I was growing up, we had a pop-up camper that we used mostly when we went to Florida every summer for a month. It had deep bins under the dining table bench seats, and since we had four kids and two parents, three people put their clothes together in each bin. We packed bedding, food, and many other things into the camper which was towed behind the station wagon. In the car we had toys and books, an ice chest full of food and drinks for the car, usually a few grocery bags with things like crackers, bread, chips, etc. (that didn't need to be kept cold), and probably a lot of stuff I don't even remember. The roof used to be packed, too--and we got up at 4 am, loaded up and took off so that we kids would go back to sleep until around 8:00. Dad always planned it so that we'd drive 8 hours a day, but if we began so early, we'd get to the camp site sometime after lunch, and even after setting up the camper we'd still have ample time to play in the afternoon.
The point is, since I was not only a child but the youngest child, I had NO idea how much work this all was! To me, camping was fun, the way to get to our glorious month in Florida with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. My aunt and uncle have a beautiful house in Jacksonville, which I thought of as heaven--air conditioning! palm trees! three bathrooms! Bathrooms that had connecting doors to bedrooms! a patio! a house that sprawled all over but was only one floor! sliding doors onto the patio from the family room AND from the master bedroom! It was just the greatest to me. Then we'd go to the cabin on the lake, which of course was wonderful too. Swimming all the time, cousins playing all over the place, a motorboat that we rode on, skiied behind and for the younger ones were towed behind on a tire. Playing cards at night on the screened porch under a yellow light bulb to trick the bugs, riding around in the back of my uncle's pickup truck (we LOVED that!), big loud family meals, reading on a chaise lounge while the adults cooked, the afternoon thunderstorm that cooled everything off. It was just great. And then, of course, we went to Disney World every year.......
Now we go camping as a family, but the unfortunate part is that now I'm the mom and get to be the one doing all the work! I love going, don't get me wrong, but the planning involved! The food we have to bring, and all the dishes/pots/silverware/dishpans/bedding/pillows/air mattress and pump/toys/sunscreen/bug spray/dog and all her stuff/bikes/bathroom stuff/towels/a clothesline........it's endless. We are going next Friday, just for the weekend to a local place, and although we are excited about it, I feel like I am coordinating an expedition to the Arctic! And even though we go to campgrounds that have bathrooms, with hot water, showers, activities, a pool, picnic tables, fire pits, etc. (hardly backpacking into the wilderness and foraging for food, is what I'm getting at), almost everything about camping involves work. You have to hike to that bathroom instead of going to the room next to yours at night. You have to heat water to do dishes. You have to adjust your whole mode of cooking--a meal takes three times as long to make, and you have to think carefully before you leave the house what will be the best things to make. You have to make sure you have enough clothes and bedding--even when the days are warm, the nights are cold, so you end up taking along so much stuff that a 3 day trip looks like you're moving out. Even bringing our dog is a pain, because she has to stay leashed, which she isn't used to. We didn't camp last year because we moved over the summer and were too busy, and we didn't camp the summer before that because we didn't want to bring Emma as an infant, and the summer before that I was pregnant and NOT sleeping in a tent! But the summer of 2003, when Sophie was a puppy (her only camping trip), we had to lock her in the van at night because she kept barking at people on the way past at night.
So wish me luck in the coming week as I prepare for Camping Extravaganza....I'm sure we'll have a great time, but I'm also sure I will be frazzled and irritated all week long. At least we have a new and bigger tent this year. After Emma was born we knew we'd need a bigger one, and we bought it on sale last year and then the trip we'd planned in June was rained out and due to moving we never got back to it. So it's about time that the humongous new tent gets aired out. We'll show a photo of it when it's all set up. :)