Author: Hendricks, Ralph

Festival Camping with Kids

It is argued by some that the best way to enjoy a festival is to go with the family. After all, camping in the great outdoors is a favorite American pastime and what better way to spend quality time together than to camp out with the kids. In fact, you can not only enjoy a family camping trip, but many Bluegrass festivals occur on special days like: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day….you get the point. But as a parent be prepared because camping also has its moments.

A camping experience can bring out the best in a family but it can also have a twist or two that occur. For a parent the dream of having a relaxing week in the mountains can sometimes be shattered by the reality of how much work is involved to keep the kids fed, entertained and safe. The following excerpt from a past trip is without Mom. It seemed that Mom didn’t get much quiet time at home with kids and got even less camping. So when it came time to head out with sleeping bags in tow, Mom bailed out leaving me (Dad) to the memorable rustic experience to follow:

(we’ve only been on the road now about 30 minutes) “Who just screamed? What’s going on back there? Why did you pull your sisters hair? I don’t care what she called you. No we’re not almost there. Mom stayed at home because she needed a break. I miss her too. Sure we can call her later. What? I thought you went to the bathroom before we left. You’re not going to be sick, so stop saying you will. Oh geez, roll down the window. No, not in the car. Oh no. All of you? I’m pulling over. Find the paper towels. It’s OK.”

(a few hours later) “Can we set up camp first? Because the tent is easier to set up with help. Don’t wander too far. I’m hungry too. We need to set up camp first. No I’m not. I’m sure the other Dad’s are much meaner when they camp. OK, OK, we’ll set up camp later. The lake is great, but it’s getting dark. Can we please just set up the tent now? Yes, we can eat dinner first.”

(it’s pitch black dark now) “Please tell me that isn’t the only flashlight you brought. Because the batteries are dead. Stop throwing everything into the tent until we finish setting it up. Alright settle down. We’ll find your stuff in the morning, I promise. Goodnight. I love you too. I’ll be right outside the tent if you need me. I miss Mom too. Huh? You didn’t go to the bathroom before you got ready for bed? Yes, I’ll take you. The rest of you stay right here. What? All of you? It’s OK. Let’s go.”

(the next morning) “Wow, we’ve got a great campsite huh? It was really nice to sleep in. Where’s your brother? Riding his bike where? For how long? Go find him please. Where’s my guitar? I’m serious. Why would anyone move my guitar? Borrowed it? Who? What the heck are you talking about? Find your brother. Find my guitar.”

Eventually all the settling in issues give way to the excitement of the festival and camping. The kids find other kids as if guided by some form of special kid radar. Parents also gather to give each other moral support, exchange stories, offer helpful hints on kid activities, group meals and “kids on bluegrass” programs. All the camping challenges now seem trivial in the presence of such seasoned festival experts. The prior hustle of getting out of town for the trip followed by a hectic rush on arrival to making camp is replaced now with the tranquility of a star lit evening sky followed by sun drenched days with activities galore. Each night we go to sleep with the sound of bluegrass music still playing throughout the campground. This is finally the experience we longed for. Heck, we could almost stay here another week if…..wake up, you’re dreaming. It’s time to say goodbye to all the old friends and new. We’ve got so many new stories to tell about this trip when we get home.

(The festival is over, we’re home and unpacking) “Hi honey, we’re home. Oh it was great. It was the best festival and camping trip ever. Kids were great. Really. No really. We missed you too honey. Yes we made pancakes every morning, but yours are always better. The bandage? It’s just a little scratch. It’ll heal in no time. No it didn’t need stitches. Hey kids, not so fast. We need to unpack the car. It won’t take long. If everybody just carries a few things into the house we’ll be done in no time. Your friends can wait another minute. I am not. Oh the heck with it. Go ahead. You’re welcome. I love you too.”

Posted:  8/15/2011

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