Saturday, June 19, 2010

Camping in the Backyard

Thursday we moved from "indoor camping" to actually pitching the tent in the backyard and sleeping out there. The girls helped me set up the tent and we have been staying inside the house mostly during the day -- because of the heat -- but sleeping out at night. I got the children headlamps so they could walk to the house. I'm working on this camping thing V-E-RRRR-Y gradually with them. My two older girls are pretty gung-ho and up for anything but my youngest shakes with terror and bursts into tears whenever she sees an insect or, heaven help us, a spider. I don't know where she got that from. I've certainly never modeled that for her. But I always figured that girls learned that nonsense from someone and I guess I was wrong -- no one has ever showed her to be afraid of little creepy-crawlies and yet she is. She protests vehemently whenever the subject of a hike comes up because she's afraid of ticks. She once went into a bathroom and there was a camel cricket on the floor and she began to scream in terror, rushed out of the room, and peed on the living room floor in fear. So I have had to be very gentle and gradual with her to build up her comfort level with the outdoors. We spent several days sleeping on the living room floor in sleeping bags and every time we went to the camping store I would get a spiffy new piece of gear and make a big deal out of it. Camping mats... headlamps... compressible pillows... etc. Then we set up the tent together and slept in it for a few nights. We did our read aloud story in the tent, they got their stuffed animals, and so on. They've watched me reading The Complete Walker IVand they know I am going shopping for a backpack. It's all been very fun and upbeat.

Tomorrow the girls go back to their dad's house. When they come back to me in a week we will stay in the backyard but eat camping food (which they helped me pick out) at the picnic table, so they can see how the camping stove works -- although they're not to touch it, of course -- and what kinds of things you eat when you're in the woods. I am not venturing to explain going to the bathroom. Some things should just be in the moment. But every other aspect of it we will practice beforehand. She is fine with seeing the lightning bugs fly past in the evenings and things seem to be going well. I had already planned to do Misty of Chincoteagueas our next read-aloud story. It looks like our first real camping trip may be to Assateague Island! I know the girls would love to camp on the beach with the wild ponies.

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