We had a fun family adventure this weekend. We went camping! And it was so easy, free and fun– no packing, no hauling anything, no hassle. Because we went camping at home. Yes, this might be considered cheating by camping enthusiasts, but I think it’s just a great thing to do as a family.
We were celebrating Amelia’s birthday, and I didn’t have it in me to do a big party– we knew she would also love just spending time together doing something special as a family. And it was really fun. We all had a great time, and I can’t wait to do it again.We don’t have a particularly big back yard, but it’s long, and the end of it is pretty wild. Jeff made us a fire pit with some bricks laying around, and the area near the shed and our big compost bins ended up feeling like a pretty legit campsite. We just got a family-sized tent, and it was fun to break it in.
Jeff also got to break in the Father’s Day gift I gave him this year. So we had all sorts of good camp-y fun out there. I had the luxury of making dinner in a real kitchen, and then we broke out our picnic kit for dinner on the grass by the tent.
Birthday cake (strawberry shortcake) was enjoyed by the fire.
It was windy, so Jeff had to step into the shed to light the candles. This was a magical moment– seeing the glow through the dirty windows. And then having him emerge singing “Happy Birthday.”For the record, the cake was delicious. We used a (grain-free) sweet biscuit recipe from this cookbook, and made whipped coconut cream— very good!
Oh, that time around the campfire was really sweet. We sang songs, burned stuff, and joked around. We asked Amelia about what she loved most about her 7th year (travel, time as a family, having a crush for the first time) and what she hopes for her 8th year (a bigger bedroom, new friends, new travels– all very likely.)Jeff and Amelia had made marshmallows for the first time that afternoon, and they turned out really well! We had all entertained fantasies of roasting marshmallows around the campfire. However, the marshmallows did not stand up to the heat. I think they would work if we froze them on skewers beforehand (another privilege of camping at home!) so that only the outsides toasted. It was fun, anyway.We “roughed it” by washing our faces and brushing our teeth in the garden, with the hose. Then it was into the tent, to play cards and, later, tell (vaguely) scary stories.
I loved sleeping in the garden, looking up at the sky. We could hear our neighbors out in their gardens with friends, talking quietly, too, and that did not detract at all from my urban camping bliss. We have lots of things blooming in the garden right now, and the air is so fragrant.
In the middle of the night, Amelia woke up completely disoriented. She had insisted on sleeping outside of her sleeping bag, and was, naturally, freezing. She went inside to use the bathroom, then ended up in her bed upstairs. We followed, but only because I knew the sun would be up at 4:30 in the morning, and I wanted more than a few hours of sleep.
In the morning, it was back outside, making a new fire. When was the last time you cooked over a campfire? The smells take me right back to my childhood in the Philippines. Somehow, squatting in the dirt and cooking this way feels so natural and good to me. It’s even better when you manage to get your egg yolks exactly how you want them! We enjoyed breakfast around the fire, and then it was time to pack up camp– Amelia had a play practice to get to. We all loved our back yard camping trip so much. We got all the best parts– the family togetherness, the quiet, the campfire… With the conveniences of bathrooms, a kitchen (when needed) and of course not having to go anywhere! What a fun weekend, and a really nice way to spend time celebrating our favorite eight year old. Yes, we’ll do real camping sometime soon, but this was so relaxed and easy. I can’t wait to do it again soon!
Have you been camping lately? Have you done it at home?