Pretty perfect camping


I am happy to report that my “send a watermelon to camp” program is coming along nicely. We have come to the realization we are just too lazy to eat healthy while camping. If fruit is sliced, diced, chopped and bagged we will eat it right up. If not, well, we carry so much food that no one can be bothered with anything that requires effort. In fact, we are so skillful at not lifting a finger, we once carried a whole watermelon on not one, but two camping trips. I’m basically a travel agent for produce.

Camping is by its very nature (like what I did there?) all about food. We are the family that routinely hauls along a wood-fired smoker (the better to prepare a perfect pork loin) and most of our forays involve at least an afternoon of baking beforehand.


I don’t know what it is about sitting around doing such a blissful amount of nothing that builds the appetite, but it’s real. We scarcely have cleaned up from a hearty breakfast before campers start sniffing around for lunch. Every trip to the boat or beach and every bike ride or hike requires sustenance. Before too long it’s time to head back for snacks, then dinner.

It is almost required this be followed by a campfire, hobo pies and s’mores. I don’t even like marshmallows, but stab one straight through its gooey little heart, roast it until it’s blackened, and peel off the blistering skin and I love it. I’m a snack sadist.

We love getting away every weekend in our camper, much to the puzzlement of some non-camping friends. People who don’t enjoy camping can never seem to understand how anyone else does. Mention “camping” to an anti-camper and you count on the inevitable “I only camp in a hotel” comments that are sure to follow.


I, personally, have never understood the lure of a hotel. I’m sure I’ve stayed in some very nice ones that weren’t populated by the cast of Psycho or anything (probably), yet I’ve seen just one too many “all the icky germs as seen by black light” documentaries to sleep very well in one. (Here’s a tip. Don’t pack your black lights.)

I have honestly never understood the allure in schlepping all your belongings in bags like hobos, wrestling tiny toothpaste tubes like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians, and paying a premium to sleep in a space surely littered with other people’s DNA — or worse.

Meanwhile I am aware our personal space is surely littered with microbes, but that’s O.K., they’re ours.


Still, when packing up to leave a perfectly lovely, rural enclave nearly every weekend, it can be difficult to explain. We live in the country. We have space, privacy, trees, grass and a pool. What exactly are we “getting away” from? Goats?

I joke we are a reverse “Fresh Air Fund.” We take country kids into a “suburban/city” setting. Our children don’t know from sidewalks, so the thrill of pavement for bike riding is a draw at campgrounds. We camp in groups close enough to enjoy morning coffee or an evening campfire and they love having friends “right next door.”

As the kids grow older there is also certain sweetness in being in a small, set space with your unplugged kids that a Hilton with free Wi-Fi cannot provide. This weekend a group of kids aged 12-16 spent time playing a card game involving spoons and laughing uproariously. That’s real “facetime.”


One well meaning, hotel-only friend challenged me with this statement. “I have never camped when it wasn’t dirty and hard work. Have you ever had a perfect weekend?” I gave her question some honest thought.

Fourth of July week this year it was predicted to rain, and did sometimes, but often enough it didn’t. So that was perfect.

We lost the awning in the middle of the night. It was a big crash and a big mess. By waiting until 4 a.m. it didn’t fall on any of the kids (or adults) during the day. So that was perfect.

I attempted to learn to tow a boat trailer (I hit a post). Mr. Wonderful was forgiving about the damage. This reminded me why I’m lucky to have him. So that was perfect.

A tree limb came crashing down into the campsite (see: wet weather) just minutes after a friend’s child had crossed that path. He was safe. So that was perfect.

We had five days of good food, great friends, great fun, boat and camp safety and more laughs than should be allowed. We came home dirty, exhausted, a little bit poorer, but rich in memories.

Most of our camp outs are like that, so that’s pretty much perfect.

As a bonus, no watermelons were harmed in the making of these memories.


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