I do not enjoy camping. It isn't something I would ever usually choose to do because I am not outdoorsy at the best of times, I would much prefer a cabin or hotel room and since having children, I very much appreciate having all of the creature comforts of home close to hand. Then I can relax and actually feel like I am on holiday.
So no one was more surprised than me when I volunteered to join a friend on a weekend camping trip recently. I don't know what it was that made me do it. Perhaps it was the promise of 30-degree temperatures and direct beach access which, after a long, cold winter here in Canberra I was ready for. Maybe it was the fact that it would be just the mums and kids going, so there was promise of enjoying some wines and a long overdue catch-up. Whatever the reason was, I decided to join and the kids were thrilled.
I'll admit, the camping we did was probably the least offensive version I could find. It was amazing weather and we were in a holiday park so there were toilets and showers nearby. Nevertheless, it was still sleeping outside in a tent and for me, that is way out of my comfort zone.
The trip started off well. I had one of those fancy pop-up tents so that part was easy. I also had a blow-up mattress for inside the tent; if I was going to camp, I was going to be comfortable. The kids and I shared the tent and they were asleep within 10 minutes of their heads hitting the pillow thanks to a full day in the sun and in the pool. I, on the other hand, barely slept. I was on high alert for any signs of danger. I couldn't relax at all but the kids were asleep, so I at least knew they were comfortable.
Night two was a similar story for them; fast asleep within minutes. Unfortunately the people camping next to us had decided to have a party. I am not sure where they all came from, during the day there were five guys on the site and by 9pm there were at least 15 people and they were there to have a good time if the scattering of empty Woodstock cans in the morning were any indication. Thankfully, things settled down around midnight and I must have dozed off. At 3am, however, I woke up needing to use the toilet so trekked across the campsite to the toilet block. On the way back I spotted a particularly nasty looking spider crawling near our tent and it was at that point I remembered why I hate camping.
As I lay in between my two children at 3am, I wondered to myself, why is this a thing that people do? Why am I sleeping on the ground outside? I never found the answer. But my friend and I have already made plans to go back next year, this time in a cabin with an indoor toilet and no eight-legged room mates.
- Christy Kidner is a trained newborn care specialist and mother of two. Visit Christy's blog at motheringme.com.au.