So took the kids camping last weekend. I took a day’s vacation, which meant we could go set up on Thursday evening, then get three nights there. The main hassle with camping is the setting it all up, so the more nights you can stay the better.
About 15 mins before leaving I realised I had lost the mobile mains kit which we use to get electricity in the tent, where electricity = light and heat. Worked out it had been left in storage in Mother-in-Law’s garage an hour away. Then found out I had no spare gas cylinders for the backup lamp.
Decided to go anyway, and sort these things out the next day. I had deliberately picked a campsite that was only 30 mins drive away, so if there were any major crisis we could just go back home.
So we arrived, kids very excited. Matt helped me put the big tent up, and the little ones unloaded the car. Went to put the main gas fire on … and realised I had brought the wrong regulator fitting. So nice cooker, plenty of gas in the bottles to power it, but the wrong £5 connector to link the two. So overall we had no power and no heat. And most important of all – no way to boil a kettle and make tea!
By about 9.30 it was dark and I was totally stressed out. My initial thought was to leave all the camping stuff in place, drive home for the night, and try again the following day. I mentioned this to the children, and they were very upset at the thought of giving up. I thought they would be pleased to have a warm bed to look forward to, but turned out they were really excited by the camping in spite of all the problems. So I agreed we would stay. Once we were all in our sleeping bags it wouldn’t actually matter if we had no light or heat.
Then, to me, the most wonderful thing happened. John Mark, who is supposed to be 10 years old, said I looked really stressed and I should just sit for 5 mins and catch up with myself. He got me a glass of milk and a cookie, and said I wouldn’t feel as bad once I’d got a drink and snack inside me. Of course he was right, I was tired and fed up and starting to lose perspective. It wasn’t really a great crisis. We just stayed the night, sorted everything out the next day, and had two more nights of very civilised camping.
Afterwards it occurred to me that if everything had gone so smoothly on that first night John Mark wouldn’t have been a total star.