By: Staci Stallings
Camping is not my thing. Let’s get that clear and out of the way first. I know. I know. I should love everything my kids and husband love, but I gave up shoulding myself into things a long time ago. It’s not that I’m out to upset anyone, just that I’m not going to please them at my expense unless it’s my idea or God’s. So, my husband who LOVES camping and my children who also love it often go camping without me. That’s great by me because the kids and I spend practically every waking hour they are not at school together, and it’s nice to have a break. Plus, my husband who often goes to work early and comes home late doesn’t get to spend much one-on-one time with the kids. So it works out for everyone.
Well, this past weekend my husband and brother-in-law decided to go to the lake with the kids (our three; their four). My sister, feeling sorry for me, decided to stay home and watch movies with me. Before the trip started, my nephew from my husband’s side and my nephew from my side decided to join them.
Now this takes bravery on everyone’s part. Think about it. Two guys, nine kids (oldest was 14, youngest 6), four days. At the lake in a tent and a small camper. Talk about an adventure!
They brought food and ate half of it the first night. Can you say, “36 hot dogs”? Hey, it takes a lot of energy to be that excited, load everything up, drive an hour, unload everything and get the whole camp set up. My husband even strapped a refrigerator into the pickup so they wouldn’t have to deal with coolers, which everyone thought was hilarious until they realized it was very practical as well. (Don’t worry, they had plenty of food for the rest of the weekend!)
Yes, they swam too. A LOT. One nephew brought his canoe, and the kids paddled all over that lake. They brought fishing rods and a big inflatable island. The kids explored, the guys did too. At night my husband and my nephew (godfather and godson) spent an hour out on the beach, looking at the stars together. How cool is that? My nephew told my sister-in-law, “You know, that Damian is one cool guy.”
I’m of the opinion that too often in this life we just don’t spend enough time together. We rush around and rush around, going to this, that and the other thing. But we never just sit and be together. I’m so glad the two of them had that time.
The other cool thing I noticed when my sister, my mom and dad, and I went on Sunday for a few hours was how the kids played together. There as no set pattern at all. Youngest would go canoeing with the older ones and then come back and play with the younger ones. Cousins played with cousins and then with brothers and sisters. Girls went fishing with the boys. Boys went fishing with each other. One guy would go with a set of kids; the other would go with a different set. Everyone got along with everyone, not because there was a rhyme or reason but just because.
Last week I read a piece about “free-range children” and how much more happy and well-adjusted they are. Well, this weekend was about as free-range as you could get and still be in some control. The kids went to the island, around the island, to the camp site, down to the beach. As long as the adults knew where you were going, have fun.
My husband told me last night after they got home that the people in the campsite next to them were really impressed. The wife said, “You’ve been out here two days and none of the kids are sunburned or whiny or have gone hungry. They are all happy and playing with each other. There’s not screaming or tears. That’s impressive for two guys.”
Then another camper commented on how good the kids were. “They help. They are polite. They stick together. They help each other. That’s impressive.”
I’m happy to say that is my family. They don’t need me every second of the day, and that is a very good thing. I’m thrilled that my husband can go spend time with them, that they can learn to depend on Dad too, that they can have fun with each other and with cousins for four days without everyone coming home mad and hurt.
Two guys, nine kids, four days. One hugely successful weekend.