We go camping at least once every summer - just for a night or two, usually, to one of the provincial parks close enough to home that if there was an emergency we could hop in the car and be back quickly.
I'm not a big camper myself - I'm a fan of indoor plumbing and big comfy beds and not terribly fond of bugs and smoke in my face and sleeping on the ground. A vacation, to me, means sunshine and beaches and restaurants and hotels, not coolers and campfires and tents in the woods. But my husband loves camping, my children love camping, and I love my husband and children. So we go camping.
Coordinating this year's camping trip was tricky - between soccer six nights a week, tournaments three out of every four weekends, and our work schedules it was next to impossible - but we figured it out, booked the time off, and pulled the tents and air mattresses out of storage.
Mother Nature, however, disagreed with our plans and the day we were supposed to leave was the beginning of a crashing two-day thunderstorm.
Instead of giving up - vacation time is vacation time and there simply won't be any more days this summer when both my husband and I can take time off - we changed our plans. The skies cleared, the sun came out, the rain dried up and we planned ourselves a little camping trip at home.
We grilled steaks and eggplant and corn on the cob on the barbecue and ate out on the deck. Then, while I brought the boys to their soccer practices, my husband set up the tents and air mattresses and fire pit in the backyard and surprised us when we got home with with a "walk-the-plank" bridge he constructed over the "shark" bay below our back deck.
We put on our pirate hats (pirate hats are pretty much the norm for virtually every occasion in this family), walked the plank to our backyard campsite, and spent the night around the campfire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and playing with sparklers.
At bedtime we crawled into our tents and cozied up for a night of camping at home in our own backyard.
It may not have been the usual summer camping trip, but we had lots of fun and made lots of memories - and we may make backyard camping a new family tradition!