Above me the sky was sprinkled with stars. They seemed more abundant and a little brighter than usual. My arms were wrapped around my 5-year-old, who leaned into me as close as she could on the rickety bench of our picnic table. We warmed ourselves by the campfire and laughed hysterically as my husband told a “spooky” story about a giant catfish named Charlie. My youngest jumped up and down with excitement as the story built and the night wound down. It had been the perfect night for a backyard campout.
My girls love camping. We’ve been a couple of times to the lake in the summer, but for weeks my oldest had been asking to do it in the backyard. We told her when the weather turned cool and her daddy had a couple days off work, we would do it. This week it finally happened.
Having a backyard campout turns out to be an easy way to make your kids really happy. I went to the dollar store and bought hot dogs and stuff for S’mores (a must!). My husband pulled out our tent from the shed and set it up. And we all piled in the truck and drove out to the woods (just a couple miles from our house) to stock up on firewood. That was it. It was time to camp.
My girls were beyond excited. All night, their grins stretched from ear to ear and they made several comments about “being together as a whole family.” Even at their young ages, they know what a special thing that is. When it happens, they eat it up.
We didn’t do anything extra exciting. We roasted hot dogs on a stretched out wire hanger (something my 2-year-old called “AMAZING”). We devoured S’mores. And we told and listened to “spooky” stories so funny my eyes watered. Who knew my husband was such a good story-teller?
But mainly, we just enjoyed each other. Yes, there were a few stressful moments as there always are with two little ones, but really, it wasn’t any more trouble than doing our normal supper, bath time, bed time routine. When we got tired, we all piled in our four-person tent, wiggled down into our sleeping bags, and crashed. Before I could even tell her goodnight, my oldest was out, and that never happens! I considered it a sign of a successful night.
We did get a little cold during the night so I was glad we had plenty of extra blankets and lots of snuggles. And when the sun rose in the morning, my girls sat straight up and grinned because “we made it!” The good thing about being right next to your house is that you can sneak inside at any point. We did so about 7:30 a.m. to warm up and make hot cocoa. Eden, my oldest, did say to me that she wished we could have put our beds in the tent. I laughed and conceded that camping isn’t so “comfortable.” Bright eyed and all smiles, she said, “But it sure is fun!”
It sure is, dear. And I’m so glad we have the memories to prove it.