by Melissa Face
“Why do you want to go camping?” my friend Dawn asked.
I thought about the question.
I don’t love camping. I really don’t even like it. My family didn’t camp as a form of vacationing when I was a child; we stayed in hotels like civilized people. Camping is really not something I long to do.
“I don’t want to go camping,” I told her. “But I also really don’t want to miss it.”
Because my husband knows me well and realizes I can get a little grumpy in certain situations, he was wary when I asked to tag along on his family’s annual trip to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Mount Solon, VA.
He feigned excitement as the date approached. I have to give him credit: he really appeared happy to have me there. But he and I both knew this trip wasn’t about me. It was about our two kids and giving them the opportunity to spend time with their uncles and cousin. That is why I wanted to go.
When we arrived at the campsite, I had a beer (I like that part of camping) while my husband unpacked. Fortunately, his brother, Bryan, had set up our tent the day before, so Craig’s workload was pretty light.
I looked around at the tents, gas lanterns, cooking equipment, and water filters and I thought, “people spend a ton of money to live the way our ancestors did when they had no other choice.”
I kept my mood positive the first two days. I enjoyed the festival, the variety of food trucks, the beer garden, and family time. I loved staying up late by the campfire and getting as sleepy as possible in hopes that I would be somewhat unaware of the fact that I was sleeping on the ground.
It didn’t work.
I remembered I was on the ground each time I turned over that night. And I turned over many times.
It rained on day three, all day and all night. It was still drizzling at bedtime, and though it was technically dry inside our tent, the dampness permeated the fabric. I felt it everywhere.
It is possible that I was a little grumpy that evening. I may have even suggested going to the nearest hotel. My lousy mood heightened later that night when our car battery died. I wanted Craig to take us home right then in case it died again, wouldn’t recharge, and left us with no choice but to live at the campground for the rest of our lives.
I imagined being stuck at the campsite forever, where I had to walk down a steep, dirt path each time I needed to use the restroom and where I had to go to bed each night on the hard, damp ground.
Day three was miserable. It tested my patience and my ability to remain in a calm, pleasant mood. Others in our group weren’t as bothered by the weather as I was. They are better campers than I am, or perhaps just better people.
So why did I go?
Why did I subject myself to a buggy bathroom, a damp tent, and no air conditioning in the middle of summer?
I did it because of the things I did not want to miss. My life has taught me to not miss the good things, if I can help it.
I didn’t want to miss my son, Evan, holding a flashlight under his chin, trying so hard to tell a spooky story by the campfire, while the rest of us tried not to giggle.
I didn’t want to miss the excitement on Evan’s face when his Uncle Scott took him to the front of the stage because the Steel Wheels were playing Evan’s favorite song.
I didn’t want to miss my sassy daughter, Delaney, telling Uncle Scott he needed to “trim his beard” or watching her laugh until she got the hiccups from pouring water on herself and everyone else during the first hour of the festival.
I didn’t want to miss Evan eating grilled cheese sandwiches from the food truck three days in a row and saying it was the best thing he had ever tasted. I’m not a cook, so I wasn’t the least bit offended by his comment.
I didn’t want to miss witnessing the joy both of my children found in playing with Bryan’s dog, putting twigs on the fire, and gathering rocks…just because.
I didn’t want to miss the ice cream, kettle corn, pizza, s’mores, and doughnuts the size of small tires.
And I really didn’t want to miss dancing with my daughter to “Angel from Montgomery”, holding her close, twirling her around, and relishing in her littlehood.
The discomfort I endured was a small price to pay for what I would have missed if I had passed on this trip.
That is why I went camping. And why I will probably go again.