Picture this: you have been waiting for weeks to get away with your family and have booked a nice hotel room in an exciting location. You leave work early on Friday and drive for 2 hours and arrive just in time for a fast-food dinner near the hotel (bedtime is rapidly approaching!). The town is charming and the spring air is warm and invigorating. You would love to walk around and soak it all in, BUT… the kids are getting tired and cranky and it’s time to check in at the hotel and lug all 32 bags up to your room. You and your wife complete the bedtime rituals SWAT team style, in record time! You set up the Pack N Plays, rush through story-time (one book, not two), sing the songs more quickly than usual, say a prayer, and put the kids to bed. Congratulations! You now have three options:
1. You can go out on the town by yourself while the wife stays with the kids (bad for marriage?)
2. You and your wife can turn on the light in the bathroom, get comfortable, and read a book. You read on the toilet while she reads in the empty tub. You can’t run the water because the kids are asleep. (also bad for marriage??)
3. You can both go directly, and silently, to bed. (not bad or good for marriage, normal???)
Now imagine that instead of booking a hotel room you had reserved a campsite, or a cabin, in a beautiful, sylvan location. Instead of shoveling down the fast-food you unpack the cooler and share sandwiches and a salad around the picnic table. One of your children may even decide to stand on the picnic table to eat. And that’s okay. After dinner your kids romp across a grassy lawn for ten or twenty minutes to stretch their legs after the long drive. Once they are good and tired you round them up into your tent, RV, or cabin and begin the bedtime ritual. After you put the lively little campers to bed you step outside into the fresh air and glory in the view of lakes, mountains, streams, rivers, etc…depending on where you are camping. If you are staying at Camp Taylor the wolves might be howling up in the hills at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. If you are staying at the Cape Hatteras KOA the waves will be crashing just over the dunes.
You stretch your legs and get the campfire going. You pour two drinks. Some neighbors drop by and say hello, ask where you’re from and how old your kids are (camping families are notoriously friendly!). You strike up a nice conversation and get some recommendations about the area. You say goodnight and after a long week at work you finally get some alone-time together. Your kids are sleeping safely and soundly just a few feet away. The air is cooling down but the fire is warm. The stars are beginning to fill up the night sky. You are so glad you skipped the hotel. Your wife hates it when you read on the toilet anyway.