Friday, August 12, 2011


Camping is fun. Packing for camping is not.

Back in my late teens and twenties, it was almost a competition amongst outdoorsy types, to see how little you could take with you for a week long canoe trip. A Thermarest, a sleeping bag that stuffed into a sack the size of  a loaf of bread, a little Primus stove, and a pack of matches...that was about it.

I'm five days into packing for a family of five's five-day camping trip. I've created framework organisers to keep track of every-weather clothing for all of us, packed and unpacked the kids' suitcase, and have anticipated every possible ailment that might occur. I'm ready for days of rain, with a bin full of playdough, craft materials, books (fiction and non-fiction!), and games. I have fishing rods, boogie boards, snorkels, goggles, and bikes.

All this packing had me exhausted before we've even leave home, and wondering if it's all worth it.

Then I remembered days at my cousins' cottage, when I was a child. There was always a dry towel wrapped lovingly around me when I finally emerged from the cold, northern lake. As the evening chill came on and the fire was lit, there was always a warm sweatshirt and a pair of track pants ready for me. We never thought about food; our mothers just set out cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, and copious amounts of Koolaid to get us through the day.

One of the many gifts our mother gave us was a carefree childhood. Of course we didn't think about bring rubber boots or bug shouldn't have to think about those things. Everything we needed was just there, as if by magic.

And now, all this packing feels like a privilege; I can now offer my children the same thing my mother gave me: warm pyjamas, plentiful snacks, dry clothes after a swim, and little flashlights to play with in the tent.

Of course, I've packed a basket of goodies for myself, just in case I find a moment to relax, after all this packing.

Here's to all the mothers out there, who work behind the scenes (birthdays, Christmas, trips, holidays) to make sure that their children's lives are fun, stimulating, safe, and most of all, carefree.


  1. Ugh, the packing - it's painful. But I like how you've re-framed it as a privilege. Because, really? It IS. There is SO much to pack because our lives are SO packed full of blessings.

    Wishing you sunshine and clear night skies during your camping trip...

  2. Thank you for making me think about this in a different way. We are off to Algonquin next week, and I will keep this in mind while packing! (by the way, know any good camping areas near Eaganville? We might break up the drive...)

  3. Yes- thanks for helping me shift the focus on what a privilege it is to prepare all of this for my family, too. And now the eldest can't wait to bring her own little family along, too. Must have done something right!
    Your pic of the wellies reminded me to pack those, thank goodness!
    Looking forward to sharing this summer tradition with you and yours xoxox

  4. DeeDee, Bonnechere Provincial Park isn't far. My kids LOVED it there when they were youngsters.

  5. And I forgot to mention that the Man and I love it there now as adults without kidlets.

  6. I have to say it has always been the UN-packing that made me wonder if it was all worth it when our six were younger. But then like post partum amnesia that sets in, by the following spring I would be dreaming of all those great campfires and hikes we would have that summer while tenting!

  7. I always think of it as creating memories. It's the little things they remember, sparklers around the campfire, cupcakes for desert, sandcastles with an army of plastic animals to defend it. It is worth it, it is a privilege and a joy to see their faces glow with adventure.

  8. Sounds like a blast! Good luck and we can't wait to hear all about it!


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