I've only camped a couple of times in my young adulthood, and both times were with people much more experienced than I, people whom I felt confident could wrestle a bear if it came down to it, so that I might have a chance to run away. In a family camping situation, though, I'm pretty sure the bear-wrestling responsib-ilities lie with the parents, and so I put it off and put it off. Until our trail-savvy neighbors invited us to go camping with them for two nights in New Hampshire. Their bear-wrestling potential was off the charts according to my calculations, enough to cover two families easy, and so I felt comfortable finally taking that leap.
We camped at Gilson Pond Campground at the base of Mount Monadnock. As soon as we arrived on Friday evening, nature made itself known with a symphony of birdcalls not often heard in our backyard: eastern wood-pewee, hermit thrush, ovenbird, northern parula, black-throated green warbler. The 7YO knew them all and was immediately in his element. Meanwhile, the 10YO wasted no time taking inventory of the various caterpillars and moths on display. Check out this giant luna moth:
Caterpillars were everywhere: on the bathhouse walls, dropping from the trees. By the end of the trip, we were literally coated in caterpillars. The three boys got busy building them a mossy habitat out of sticks, leaves, and clumps of ground while we set up the tents. I know the little leaf-eaters are bad for trees, but they're so much fun for kids. Gypsy moth caterpillars in particular are so fuzzy and lively, like tiny tubular kittens.
Speaking of tubular, dinner that night consisted of a variety of extruded, pre-cooked meats like hot dogs, bratwurst, and some andouille sausages from North Country Smokehouse. The latter I bought on a whim because: a) their bacon is delicious; and b) they're made in New Hampshire. Eat like the locals, right? The sausages were fabulous. Spicy and awesome. Perfect camping food. We also had blueberries and slaw I shredded up from my farmshare veggies the night before. Afterwards, we toasted marshmallows and made s'mores because we would be fired as parents if we didn't have s'mores on our first family camping trip.
Tucked into their sleeping bags that night, both boys declared the past four hours to be the best camping trip ever. But there's more, I said, and began detailing our plans for the next day. They didn't hear. They were already asleep.