|Two boys just hangin' out at our campsite (Holiday Hill Camping Resort)|
Sometimes I wonder why we go camping at all. It's no cheaper, anymore, than staying at a local motel. At $4 per gallon and 10 MPG when I'm towing, we can't really afford the long excursions we'd once planned. So we end up camping less than an hour from home. We eat cheap food and drink bland coffee. Feels like we spend almost half of our vacation time hooking up, driving, then setting up camp.
So why bother going camping?
For moments like these. This was fall of '09. My wife was working. Me an' the boys headed out for an impromptu trip to one of our all-time favorite campgrounds, Holiday Hill near Springwater NY. We didn't have reservations and our preferred sites were already taken. After having a look at what was available, we decided to take a shady, stony campsite back in the woods.
The weather was mild for August--hot in the sunshine but chilly overnight. The campground was fairly quiet, until the DJ showed up on Saturday afternoon. For some reason, none of us felt like swimming. We spent most of our time there just hangin' out together. We played Frisbee® games, listened to music, and read our books.
Meals were camp-simple: hot dogs, burgers, PB&J, or cereal. We left the TV at home. I'm not even sure if we bothered to bring the laptop. Though we probably hiked a bit, we didn't join any volleyball games or spend any time fishing in the ponds. We just hung out.
It was wonderful, and seeing that picture cycle-up on my laptop screen-saver brought it all back in an instant. My kids are nearly grown. One just finished his freshman year at St. John Fisher College. The younger one is becoming an excellent driver. They both have sports and friends and MP3 players and Facebook pages. But when we go camping, all of that goes by the wayside. It's just us, tossing a Frisbee and talking about stuff.
We sat by the campfire that Saturday night, slightly annoyed by the music from the nearby pavilion. We listened to the breeze in the trees, heard the crickets and bullfrogs around us, and fetched jackets as the temps fell after sunset. I finished the book I'd brought with me and grabbed another from the "take one" bookshelf at the camp store. I laughed when I realized it was one I'd read before.
And I remember looking around me with a smile, as time stood still there for awhile. We would be packing up Sunday morning to head home; but for those few hours the rest of the world didn't matter much. For a whole evening, our world was just the three of us comfortable in our camp chairs and happy just to be together. Those are the moments...
Why do you go camping? Do you really save any money? Or is it all about something deeper? If you have any special moments from your camping trips, you can share them here. I'll be outside getting our camper ready for the new season, almost here now.