Column: Not a happy camper, but I’ll be back

No (real) regrets over giving in to five-year-old's plea to go camping

I might be the most un-Canadian person in this beautiful country.

I discovered this unsettling nugget of information last weekend when my five-year-old son broke us down and convinced us to take him for his first camping experience — overnight in a real tent.

We have visited many of our friends’ campsites before, having a great time climbing, exploring, sitting around campfires and playing games. But following those memorable visits we got to leave and sleep in our own comfy beds, free of bugs and dirt.

But last weekend, I agreed to camp one night at Golden Ears.

It is one of B.C.’s most popular camping destinations — and rightfully so. With its generously sized sites surrounded by towering old growth trees and toppled trunks, custom made to climb and hide in. Golden Ears is a postcard of Beautiful B.C. with its lake and beaches (perfect for swimming), waterfalls and endless trails.

But camping enthusiasts are a bit like squirrels  — always packing and unpacking, busy prepping food, then cleaning up — so very busy.

How do campers find time to relax?

I was only going overnight and yet my SUV was jammed with pillows, a tent, tarp, sleeping bags, blow up mattresses, coolers, flashlight and more. All of these items needed to be unpacked and set up.

That wasn’t much fun and I was already tired. I was just about to sit down in my fold-out chair when it was dinner time.

Now it was time to haul everything out of coolers, find paper plates, barbecue and pour drinks.

Nightfall came, and all the kids were tuckered out, fast asleep in their sleeping bags, with glow sticks acting as night lights.

Sleep was peaceful, and remarkably quiet. Not a chipmunk rustling.

Then at 7 a.m., a young woman let her dog bark endlessly right in front of her, waking every adult while the kids slept right through it. That was pleasant.

But the real reason I now know I loathe camping is the clean up.

Seriously, campers, after a busy vacation of camping, prepping, cooking, cleaning, setting up and sharing a bathroom with 25 strangers, one night was more than enough.

How do people do it for days on end?

What kind of evil created that small bag that we are supposed to fit the tent back into?

Sweating, swearing, kneeling on the zipper to get it to close — I managed to do it but it wasn’t fun. Then there is all the dirt and pine needles that come home with everything.

I love a campfire as much the next Canadian. I love s’mores and the perfect toasted marshmallow, but that smoke smell gets into everything.

I admire you, dear campers. And you seasoned ones, you really get how to be a happy camper.

Despite my inward grumbles, I will go back because my son adored the experience, exploring with his little friends, gaining ground and independence, getting dirty and taking in all that fresh air.

I’ll grin and bear it, knowing that a clean and comfy hotel room is also in mommy’s vacationing future.

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