This handy guide to determining if you’re cut out for family camping originally appeared in the digital publication Parent.co.
Summertime is prime camping season, perfect for both novice and expert outdoor folk alike. Not sure if you have what it takes to tackle a camping trip with your family? Here’s a glimpse into the mind of a seasoned camping parent.
1. Your family’s marshmallow to vegetable intake ratio is 10:1 – and you’re okay with that. Come on! You’re on vacation and there are s’mores! We’re talking hot, gooey marshmallow with melty chocolate, people! You can force extra veggies on your offspring when you get home.
2. As long as the bugs in the bathroom aren’t big enough to clog the sink drain, you’re good. The outdoors gets indoors when you’re camping, and if you can’t handle a few (okay, a ton) of bugs, it may be time to reevaluate your vacation priorities.
3. You can instantly identify the sound of a game of horseshoes. Ah, the piercing clang of a metal horseshoe hitting a stake, followed by a quiet thud as it lands in a campsite pit. You can hear it anywhere in the campground, no matter where the game’s being played.
4. Your children’s shower schedule is determined not by the day, but by the intensity of their odor. Hauling towels and toiletries to the bathhouse becomes an exercise in futility when all the grime you wash off the little heathens returns before you make it back to the campsite.
5. Any night you don’t end up sleeping in the car is a victory. If a flooded tent doesn’t drive you out at 3 a.m., a deflated air mattress or kicking toddler will.
6. Anyone driving over 5 mph through a campground turns you into a crotchety, fist-waving old man. The speed limit is clearly marked, mister pickup-truck-with-naked-lady-silhouette-mud-flaps-pushing-9-mph-on-your-way-to-the-dumpster. YOU ARE ON NOTICE.
7. The five-second rule extends to food that has fallen through the grill grate. You only have so many hot dogs in the cooler. Just fish it out of the coals, wipe off the soot, and call it “zesty.”
8. You can achieve an acceptable level of cleanliness, for any family member, with a single baby wipe. When you’re too exhausted to trek to the bathhouse, removing even the top layer of dirt feels remarkably refreshing.
9. Sweeping out the sleeping area makes you feel civilized. You may be living in the woods, but you are not savages!
10. You experience fire envy. You’re trying to ration a week’s worth of firewood – you really are – but screw it. That giant bonfire two campsites over is amazing!
11. You can lather, rinse, repeat, condition, and shave on one shower quarter. Oh, the bathhouse pay shower provides 15 minutes of hot water for 25 cents? Please. You’ll be clean, dressed, and out the door before the timer on the coin box stops.
12. You don’t complain about the drunken campers making noise during late-night quiet hours because you know your kids will be up for the day and screaming at sunrise. Yeah, it’s hard to sleep through loud nocturnal shenanigans, but revenge is a dish best served at 6:30 a.m., which is right about when your children’s inability to master their “indoor voices” will become evident to everyone – especially your hungover neighbors.
13. You know all the rules of cornhole. And you’ve said the word “cornhole” enough that it no longer sounds dirty. Even your juvenile, filthy-minded spouse can say it with a straight face.
14. When you get home, your house seems like an immaculate, cavernous palace. After spending a week with your family in the close, dusty, ripened quarters of a tent or RV, you won’t know what to do with all the extra space and…NOBODY SIT ON ANY OF THE FURNITURE BEFORE SHOWERING!
15. The sound of tires on gravel anywhere makes you nostalgic for camping. Even in the dead of winter, the crunch of 5 mph vehicles on small stones brings back that delicious campfire smell and memories of warm summer nights under the stars.