Monday, July 8, 2013

Heading off to camp!

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase: I'm going camping?

Does it conjure images of camping trips you've been on?

Do you remember fun family times from you youth?

For me it's the process. In order to be able to go camping you have to pack up and take a lot of supplies with you. Living in a home day after day, we all take for granted the items we'll need to carry with us, because they are always at the house, just waiting to be used.

While that may seem bothersome to others, I find that process very relaxing, almost zen like.

It all starts with the menu. There's nothing waiting for you at camp. No pantry with the odd dried goods that could be whipped into a simple snack. No freezer with the odd pack of sausage you can cook for dinner. So that's where my camping trips start. I make a menu for each day, taking into account the activities for that day, plus whatever food phase the boys are going through. Thankfully the younger one is in a ketchup sandwich phase, so that's easy enough to account for. Then there's always the new dishes I've discovered on Pinterest or Facebook. BBQ pork foil pack and Mountain pies are high on the agenda for our upcoming camping trip.

Next is planning for the activities. We typically camp near the Allegheny National Forest so there's always something new to explore there. On our next trip we plan on spending a day at the Kinzua Beach area. When I was younger the Messenger family would gather together for a weeklong camping trip and one of the days would always be spent swimming in the Kinzua reservoir.  The boys are very into the beach this summer, so what better way to spend the day then sharing memories from my youth with them.

Packing, packing, packing. Often the bane of the camper's existence. You've got to bring everything you'll need, because there's no going back. To ease the process we'll often start packing days in advance. Dry groceries that don't require refrigeration will be bagged and staged somewhere out of the way. Clothes will be packed up a day or two in advance. Our oldest is getting to the stage where we are pushing him to be responsible for picking out and packing his own clothes. He found out on our last trip that it's always better to bring at least one extra set of clothes!

Then my favorite part: Setting camp. Whether you pitching tents and creating a fire circle, or moving into a cabin, setting up camp is part of the joy of camping. You've made all your preparations, now it's time to put it into action. Do you have enough wood? Will you be able to efficiently cook and clean around the camp? How will rain effect your campsite or activity plans?

That's the thing about camping. You've got to work to get by. There's no lounging on the couch and flicking channels. If you want a hot dinner, you've got to gather wood. You've got to make a cooking fire. You've got to make sure the ingredients for dinner, are thawed enough to cook, or held at a safe raw temperature.  It's all work, but for me it's the most enjoyable part of camping.

The Zen of Camping if you will.

Happy Camping
Scott M