And a tent my shelter shall be

by little red pen

We went camping! In tents and everything! Like real Kiwis!

The PTA at the boys’ school co-ordinates a family camp at the start of every year. The set-up is a piece of organisational genius — the location is the campground at Naseby and any family that wants to go sorts out their own accommodation, food, etc, but we’re all there together, so the kids spend the whole weekend outside playing and the adults enjoy a mix of walking and biking activity and sitting under the trees chatting.

We bought a small tent for the boys and borrowed a slightly larger one for ourselves (thanks, Nona!), Dad’s truck got us and our gear there then turned into a food pantry and kitchen bench, and my Great-Aunty Nan’s folding table and chairs served us well at mealtimes. We cooked on the little Trangia that Ian’s parents bought us 20-odd years ago, and the weather was still and hot. Some basic logistics appealed to my city-girl soul: our coffee pot, hot showers, a kitchen for doing dishes, the table and chairs, a couple of lamps.

The boys spent hours with their friends — the Cat’s gang played ball tag and hid out reading their books and having boy chats, while the Rabbit’s lot roamed around digging things, finding pine cones and rusty chains, racing their bikes up and down the drive, getting filthy and popping back to the parentals when they needed a hug, a bandaid or some food. On Saturday, everyone spent the afternoon at the swimming dam, sinking into the soft green water, mucking around in inflatable boats, wilting in the sun, retreating to the trees, falling in, clambering out, dripping and drying and floating through the day together.

I like a bare, grubby life; I like to wash it off. The wilderness retreats fast when you return to the city, home, chores, work, school. But it’s never that far away.