If you’re asked to go camping this summer – by someone who doesn’t know you or someone who obviously hates you – my advice is to just say no.
Kids love camping, it’s part of what makes them weird. Dads love camping because it’s economical and usually involves fishing. Moms hate camping because we have to do everything we do at home except now we’re pioneers. When camping, your kids will still fight, get dirty, demand food and have meltdowns; and while meal preparation over a fire sounds romantic and delicious, it usually ends in charring, ash-covered meat and the eventual consumption of an entire XL bag of (tear-soaked) Lays’ potato chips at 10 p.m.
And then there are the bugs. Last time I went camping I inquired about the possibility of ordering some deet muffins from my local bakery, only to be told they don’t exist. Shockingly, the same goes for deet moisturizer and deet Vodka, which means I spent the entire weekend flailing about like Elaine Benes at a bar mitzvah.
And don’t even get me started on personal hygiene. If Bath & Body Works could bottle the scent of a campground bathroom (and sell twenty-one for the price of nine) they’d call it “Sewer Ammonia Surprise.” Carting your toiletries back and forth to the communal washroom every night and morning is like being back in your dorm without the possibility of sex or binge-drinking to look forward to. And how clean can you really get in a campground shower while you’re side-stepping the multi-legged creatures who’ve crawled straight up from hell and onto your flip flops?
Sleeping in tent can be nice, I’ll give you that. But for this princess, conditions must be perfect: an air mattress that is comfortable, fully inflated and doesn’t squeak, a nice view of the stars, a cool breeze, sounds of lapping water, and Josh Duhamel feeding me chocolate and chilled prosecco in our joint sleeping bag. But if your kids think bodily functions are hilarious and they derive their self-esteem from how often and how loudly they can pass gas, just imagine enjoying that action while lying next to them, in a tent, on the ground, with the flaps closed because it’s pouring rain.
Camping lovers are always trying to convert me. I swear they’re going to start going door-to-door and stuffing my mailbox full of pamphlets. Veteran campers trying to lure you to the dark side will promise things like good weather, marinated steaks and cozy campfires. They’ll even call it “glamping”, which to me sounds more like a procedure my gynecologist would recommend, not plans for the weekend. But you won’t be fooled. And if you do agree to their demands, here are a few ways to make the experience more tolerable.
Renting some of these new structures launched by Parks Canada:
The Micro-Cube. Notice the complete lack of tentiness, plus the cute little red door, vented windows and perfectly civilized deck from which to enjoy the meal you did not cook over a fire.
Or maybe this Cocoon Tree Bed whose main point of perfection is that it is nowhere near the ground, or the snakes and bugs that live there. And if your kids can’t climb, guess what? Date night!
Still not sold? Invest in one of these clear, inflatable bubble tents. It’s like sleeping in a snow globe but the snow (and other nature) is OUTSIDE. This is totally my jam.
Noise-cancelling headphones. Granted, you won’t be able to hear the screams if someone falls in the fire but you’ll also miss the sing-along.
The only way I’m eating camping food is if it comes out of this bad boy. The Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven (available on Amazon) runs on propane and cooks at up to 400 degrees. Best of all? No open flame, which means you’ll never have to eat another hot dog off the stick your dog peed on ever AGAIN.
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, this Snow Peak Titanium Café Latte set is a must. It includes a press, milk frother and handy carrying case. Because living with the animals doesn’t mean living like the animals.
If your campground offers electricity, device chargers are a must. How else are you supposed to summon Uber to your rescue? To be safe, consider also taking along a portable solar charger. Then, when it rains for four straight days and bears eat all your food in the night, you’ll have a way to electronically drain your joint account and contact a lawyer.
Let’s face it, lying on the ground is for chumps. This inflatable daybed is perfect for the beach and will make you the envy of anyone who’s still finding sand in her cracks come November.
Now, when someone says “let’s go camping” you can approach the trip with a little less dread. But always remember, there’s a reason God invented Airbnb.
Author: Jen Millard
Jen Millard is a proud wife and mother of two living in Markham, Ontario. After adopting both her girls at age four, Jen and her husband Daren became passionate advocates for older child adoption, foster care reform and LCBO gift cards. An avid traveller, Jen counts Hawaii, Edinburgh, Greece and Canada’s east and west coasts among her favourite destinations. Jen is happiest when she’s got her nose in a book, a glass of wine at her side and a nap on the horizon. Jen is at her unhappiest when she is talking to her husband about her credit card bill or contemplating working out. When she’s not blogging, Jen is busy cleaning up after three badly-behaved pets and working as a part-time College instructor and Stella & Dot Stylist. Jen and her family spend their summers on Prince Edward Island.