Great American Backyard Campout

Last night, along with people across the country, we took to our tent for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.  We joined the Chattahoochee Nature Center‘s group, pitching our tent at their registered campsite along with a slew of other families with young kids.  Here’s how our inaugural family camping experience went down…

We arrived promptly at six in the evening in separate cars (should I need to take the baby home) – radio flyer and cooler loaded to the brim – to construct our abode for the night.  By some miracle, we got the tent assembled without a hitch, and in only about ten minutes.  The moment I stood back to marvel over our handy work (I totally expected for us to be the family that couldn’t get their tent up without professional assistance) a tremendous clap of thunder boomed over head.  Seriously!?!?  I literally checked the weather as we were walking out the door and rejoiced in the ZERO percent chance of rain.  We had enough time to throw all of our belongings into the tent (suddenly it made sense why everyone else brought their gear in large plastic tubs rather than Vera Bradley totes) before the downpour.

During the brief rain shower (that actually served to cool things off), the naturalists (as CNC employees seem to be called) herded us into the gym for a large raptor presentation.

Afterwards, we dined on a delectable picnic of what I like to call Ham & Swissers (ham, swiss and a poppyseed mustard butter on Hawaiian rolls), fresh fruit, Publix’s new bakery granola bark (that I promptly threw in my basket about one second after the sample crossed my lips) and chocolate chip cookies.  Supper time entertainment consisted of the naturalists roaming the campsite with a sundry of impressive snakes.  Appetizing, no?

Next up, the littles decked themselves out with flashlights and Mason jars for a twilight hike around Kingfisher Pond.  We stopped every so often at little benches overlooking the pond for educational presentations consisting of things I couldn’t have thought up in my wildest dreams… smelling coyote urine, touching dead possum skin and listening to the flapping wings on a vulture compared to those on an owl.

The sun had set by the end of our hike and the night culminated around a camp fire, lounging on blankets, toasting marshmallows for s’mores and singing silly songs a la Mother Ginny Bird and Go Bananas.  After making quick work of the sweets, the littles darted about the meadow playing flashlight tag and catching fireflies while Honey and I laid under the stars soaking it all in.  Nights like this are what being a carefree kid is all about.

Parents started gathering up their charges to tuck them in around ten thirty.  Our tent was overflowing with air mattresses, sleeping bags and sweaty, stinky, gas-passing, grunting boys.  The whole lot of ’em.  I was so, SO, SOOO tempted to hop in my car and beeline for my bed.  But, I stuck it out doing the kind of quasi-sleep where you are essentially laying still with your eyes closed yet still ready to spring to life at any moment.  It was a loooong night for the girl that generally has thread count requirements and mists her pillow with a lavender spritz before turning in each night.  When the PCP awoke this morning and asked if I loved sleeping in the tent as much as he did, I mustered the biggest smile possible to proclaim that “of course I did” and promised to do it again before Kindergarten (which is how we measure the passage of time these days.)

Had I been privy to the escapades that would fabricate my adult life – smelling wild animal urine, handling dead rodent-like marsupials and sleeping in a damp, hot, smelly sticky tent – I would have been incredulous.  Yet, day in and day out I find raising these boys a harrowingly intoxicating calling!


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3 thoughts on “Great American Backyard Campout

  1. OMG, I'm dying laughing, especially about sniffing those obnoxious animal odors! My hat's off to you girl, I don't think I could have toughed it out all night long. And I just had to tell you we LOVE our ham & cheese biscuits on the hawaiian bread biscuits with mustard and poppyseed mixture….my sister's MIL introduced those to us 20+ years ago, I think I'm going to make some tomorrow!


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