i am not a camper. there is just about nothing in the scope of that activity that i enjoy… i like to be clean, i like proper toilets, i like hot showers, i like cozy beds, i like to be indoors and i like to be safe. so camping is not something i would ever do, even with my children. i’m happy to do camping-like things (s’mores by a fire pit, blanket forts in the living room, picnics in a park, looking at the stars from the backyard, daytime walks in the nature, what i call “car hiking” and scary stories) but i like to sleep in an indoor bed. when we first moved to boulder, i was picking my son up from school and there was a discussion on the radio about a boy scout who got his face eaten off by a mountain lion in OUR colorado mountains. the story was so horrifying that i forgot i had my children in the car until theo piped up and said, “wait… WHAT happened mama?” “a little boy got eaten up by a mountain lion when he was sleeping in the nature - that’s why we don’t camp!” i replied. and i hoped it would put him off camping forever.
i do try not to impose my restricted likes on my kids too much (except for disgusting things - we are a completely raisen-free household.) so when my son started going to camp kee tov (berkeley’s classic, old school day camp) five years ago, i did allow him to go on the overnight and sleep OUTDOORS in the tilden woods for two nights, even though i was a wreck from worry. i spoke to his counselor (who was the son of one of my high school friends - crazy small town!) and told him to make sure theo did not get eaten by a wild turkey or carried off by some gang of vultures - i had already been assured that there were no bears or lions in tilden park. i also promised theo a banana split when it was over, but ONLY if he stayed alive. clearly, the thought of a big boat of ice cream and “whup” cream and chocolate sauce and a bright red cherry did the trick because theo DID stay alive. he was so filthy when he returned he was hardly recognizable, but i got him scrubbed down, checked him for ticks and turkey bites and analyzed him for emotional camping trauma. when i was satisfied that he would make a full recovery, we headed out to fenton’s… one of the only true, remaining ice cream parlors in the east bay. fenton’s has been making ice cream since 1894 and they are serious about it. the sundae glasses and bowls are way too small for the enormous scoops of ice cream so the whup and sauces spill all over the sides and drip down the eager hands of the happy, alive consumers. the whole staff sings if you tell them it’s your birthday (which we do even though none of us were born in the summer,) the marble cafe tables are right out of a 1950’s movie set and the wait staff all wear little jaunty folded paper hats - it’s pretty amazing.
this year BOTH of my children will sleep in the dirty, outdoors for a combined total of six nights and three incentive banana splits from fenton’s… IF they both stay alive…fingers crossed!