Every year my wife, the kids and myself embark on our long weekend camping venture. This past weekend represented this year’s instalment. Not being the greatest outdoorsman camping challenges me on many different levels. It is not so much the pure vacation aspect but the feat of moving outside my zone of comfort that I most appreciate. Watching the kids have fun (and they always do) is even more of a reward. Our site this year was the Bon Echo Park (located off Highway Seven going east from Toronto toward Kingston). Like most provincial parks in Southern Ontario it is well delineated, clean and densely populated with humid continental deciduous forest-like vegetation.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon (a bit later than expected courtesy of the traffic exiting the city) and set up shop as soon as possible. Our friends had reached the destination beforehand and assisted us with the tent assembly and site preparation.
Despite the user-friendly nature of the modern tent there are still one or two rods that are remarkably similar and have the tendency to torpedo a well thought out assembly strategy. Ever the theorist the lesson in practicality drawn from this experience is most humbling.
That night we barbecued the required Hamburgers (which I like) and Hot Dogs (which I don’t) as the kids took off with their respective friends – riding bikes, playing on the grounds and taking full advantage of what can only be described as leisure heaven (for them anyway).
Sunday was the day at the beach and boy did we enjoy ourselves. Seven hours or so in the water – canoeing, paddle boating, building sand castles and swimming. Armed with water pistols, the kids sprayed one another (and their father) during a frenzy period of activity uninterrupted by time’s stingy hand. I loved it and so did they. It reminded me of my fortunate childhood vacationing in Durban, Umhlanga Rocks, Cape Town, Muisenberg and George with not a care in the world. We celebrated the air, the water and the blissful feeling of freedom - a life with no worries. This is what I wanted for my own kids and right here on an isolated beach somewhere on Turtle Island they were enjoying the same experience.
The evening events took a bit of a turn for the worse as the storm that was threatening unleashed its torrent of rain that continued throughout the night. Out came the rain ponchos as we huddled under tarps hoping for an end to the onslaught that only came in the wee hours of the morning. However its moments like this that build strength (at least this is what I kept telling myself) and our team of campers held firm against an onslaught of lightning and thunder that at times seemed relentless. The tent leaked a bit but we managed to contain it and although our sleep was not restful we emerged the next morning bedraggled, unkempt and tired but with our spirits still up.
Onward to Monday and of course the clean-up. The kids enjoyed their last moments at the site and I pattered myself on the back knowing that I had once again overcome my own personal OCD demons around dirt and chaos. Despite the weather we had a great time and would do it again in a second for at the end we were together as a family. This is what matters. My wife and I couldn’t have asked for more.