Just about one year ago we ventured out to our first family camp with our church UCCLM. Pilgrim Pines camp is a standard church camp with cabins, group halls and cafeteria. This is not what I really would call camping. In fact, Nathan already knows the difference between church camp and what he has called wilderness camping. None the less, we had a wonderful time last year and are headed out later this afternoon for our second year.
I like camping. I went camping a few times each year as a girl scout. My troop leader for the purposes of camping... our real leaders weren't the camping sort... taught me most of what I know about wilderness camping. As a teenager I went with my church youth group. I should point out that for me, wilderness camping does include toilets and running water.
I have great memories of our annual Easter Week campout in the desert. We had most of the days to our selves between the morning, noon, and evening prayer services. We took turns at meal time and prayer time but otherwise were left to ourselves. We hiked and climbed and generally explored without the adults. Our campground, Agua Caliente Regional Park was nestled in the Anza Borrego Desert east of San Diego.
The desert side of the mountain is a dramatic change from our coastal ranges, Laguna and Palomar Mountains. It bears a beauty of ragged scrub covered rocks that provide an easy rock climbing experience. Easter Week usually during the full moon and adds an atmosphere perfect for a silent moon lit hike.
In the years BC Nichole and I went a few times with dogs. We spent our lazy days hiking, fishing and just sitting with good books. Since then we have hesitated because I am terrified the boys would find a way to wonder off in the night and get lost. Now that they are a bit older, I'm certain they would try to wonder away, but strategically placed adults at the tent flap would work. Nathan asked this morning if we could go wilderness camping and take the dog. I'm thinking a late fall or early spring visit to the desert.
For now, I will let go of Momma fear and allow the boys time at Pilgrim Pines to run around without too much supervision. I hope to hike some with them and explore more than I was able to last year, but I also look forward to the fact that both Isaac and Nathan have been there for summer camp and are more comfortable with the area.
It is ironic to me that as a child I ran wild with my buddies, free of direct supervision in just about any campground we were at, but as a parent I cringe at letting my children do the same. I like to believe that I had better judgement and restraint than three boys with ADHD. But years ago I was told that I kept bragging and threatening that I was going to go off at night for my own hike without the adults. Truth is, I was too afraid at night to go anywhere. Camp leader Sunshine always told scary campfire stories that were clearly meant to keep me where I belonged. That was me, full of myself and bravado to spare... until the lights went out.