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Family Culture and a Camping Adventure

When I was first pregnant, my husband and I talked extensively about how we wanted our family culture to be. We envisioned an empty canvas and decided to take the best of both of our upbringings and meld them together with any new philosophies we shared. We settled on a warm, loving, ethical, empathetic, celebratory culture; one infused with curiosity, adventure and fun. The issue of concern was my fear. When it comes to germs, bugs, the cold, heights and a whole host of other phobias, I’m your poster girl.

It was important to Mitch that I not pass along my fears to our children and it has taken a lot of effort to shield them from my laundry list. Though it has been difficult, I am grateful to Mitch for insisting on it. Had I not put a lid on some of my fears in the first years of my oldest child’s life, she might never have become an avid bug collector or tree climber.

So when a group of families planned a camping trip to Joshua Tree last year, my husband signed us up. Given that I am happiest indoors, and that camping required me to face a number of my fears, this would be a giant stretch. And until we arrived there, I had not realized that we would be camping outside in 30 degree weather; no showers and no warmth. When I waivered, my husband reminded me that our goal is to raise strong girls and that being confident outdoors is a critical piece of that equation. With that in mind, I set out to show them that Mom could enjoy camping as much as a nice hotel.

So here is how this year’s trip went:


  • 1. The Arrival 1 of 11
    1. The Arrival
    Someone's excited to be here! On the way into the park, we asked the Ranger about the weather and she said "The winds shouldn't be too terrible. And it shouldn't get below freezing." Just the words of comfort I needed to hear.
  • 2. The Tent 2 of 11
    2. The Tent
    Mitch did his best to shield us from the cold by becoming a VIP at REI. He made four separate visits in the days leading up to the trip. As you might imagine, he was razzed a bit for making the others look bad with the hotel-like atmosphere he created.
  • 3. My Girls 3 of 11
    3. My Girls
    When I witness their happiness and excitement around this experience, I have no doubt that we belong here!
  • 4. The Camping Crew 4 of 11
    4. The Camping Crew
    This group of girls - eventually my son will be old enough to join them - is full of adventure and strength. I feel so proud of all of them.
  • 5. The Rocks 5 of 11
    5. The Rocks
    Because my husband was nursing a knee injury, he stayed behind for our major climb. This reversed our roles as he would typically be leading us on this front. As it turned out, Ella (7yo) was way ahead and Ruby (5yo) encouraged me to get through a steep part with, "You can do it, Mommy."
  • 6. Friends 6 of 11
    6. Friends
    I didn't get the "Make sure you are 6 feet tall to join this trip" memo, but these friends proved that it really does take a village when you are on the rocks, at the campfire or cooking dinner.
  • 7. My Husband 7 of 11
    7. My Husband
    After dinner and smores, we put our kids to sleep and enjoyed some adult time with friends around the fire.
  • 8. Sleeping 8 of 11
    8. Sleeping
    While I would love to report that it all went swimmingly, our 5-year-old had a really tough time sleeping. It was too cold for her so she and I were up most of the night together. When the sun signaled morning time we were relieved and sleep deprived. Pancakes helped.
  • 9. Bravery 9 of 11
    9. Bravery
    My 7-year-old never ceases to wow me with her strength and bravery. Just before we left the park, she belayed for the first time. As an avid tree climber, the height was comfortable for her and our friend, Michael, was a pro at teaching her the ropes.
  • 10. Firsts 10 of 11
    10. Firsts
    This year Ruby kept up with the big kids. I could tell she was proud of herself and I am so proud of her too.
  • 11. Break down 11 of 11
    11. Break down
    On a trip like this I tend to adapt a ridiculous "you are lucky you got me here" attitude but my husband would have none of it. He insisted I learn how to break down the tent. Admittedly, once it was packed away, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I survived another year at Joshua Tree and we are already committed to next year (though for temperature's sake, we will be going in April next time!)
.

 

Photo credit thanks to Amy Geibelson and Kim Hughes 

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