Despite the fact that the revelation of this may bring a few cat calls for me to relinquish my Pacific North-Westerner card, I hereby admit that I am not a camper. Even though I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Southwest Washington state surrounded by high hills and abundant nearby campsites, I was always one of those guys who was too busy to get into the camping lifestyle. Did I mention that I grew up on a dairy?
That’s not to say that I never went camping. Growing up, I did on rare occasion go camping with family or friends and always had a great time doing so. It’s just that the stars never aligned (so to speak) for me to become a regular camper. Once I became an adult with the means to do so, my vacations were usually spent somewhere much less rugged and much more tropical – drink in hand. It’s only now that I wish I had spent much more time out in the woods.
And now that I’m the father of a nearly 3 year old boy and living in an urban setting, the thought of taking my son on campouts as he gets older is very appealing to me. Plus, we have so many attractive outdoor options here in the PNW that it would be a shame if we didn’t take advantage of the nearby beauty that has been afforded us. Am I ready to load up my wife and son and head for the hills? Well, not quite yet. Even though I know many of you have probably taken much younger kids than our son on overnight camping trips, I will most likely wait at least another year before we plan such a trip.
More likely, this summer when the weather improves sufficiently, my wife and I will pitch a tent in our back yard and intoduce the concept with a backyard campout. I can remember having many such nights growing up on the farm with nothing more than an old canvas tarp thrown over a rope tied between two poles. Given my memory for most other things, it says quite a bit about those backyard camping experiences that I can actually remember so many of the details of those nights.
All this being said, as I was browsing online recently I discovered that Saturday, June 26th is actually the night of The Great American Backyard Campout sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. It looks like the kind of event which will create lasting memories, such as those I had back in my backyard, for multitudes of families and their kids. Plus 80 cents of each dollar generated by the associated optional fundraiser is going to support health programs associated with indoor health concerns. If you are interested in learning more, click on over to their very informative website. Perhaps it is just the type of event you’ve been looking for with the kids to combine backyard fun with a sense of giving back to the community.
Will SeattleDad and his family be participating in this year’s official campout? Most likely not this go round, since our son’s 3rd birthday is the next day, his grandparents will be visiting that night, and we have a huge day planned for him on birthday Sunday.
But who knows. If the the stars do align just right for us we may find ourselves at dusk, with a tent pitched, squinting hard to see as many of them as possible through the glare of the night light from the city.
Please leave me a comment and tell me about your camping experiences with young children, and whether you will be participating in the Great American Backyard Campout.