A study I read many years ago keeps coming back to me, it was a study about parental workload with multiple children. The study reported that as parents had multiple children their workload did not increase, in fact, it suggested that no more effort was required to parent three versus one. This was attributed to the idea that siblings entertained each other.
Whether this holds true for family workload, it certainly has some rings of truth to me. It also holds the basis for our decision to camp as part of a group versus solo camping. We have two children but their age ranges are wide (eleven years difference) which means they are just developmentally into different things. The Todd’s have one child who is the same age as our daughter.
Our very first camping experience was three years ago. We planned a long holiday weekend together at a local county park near a lake. We tented camped that trip and it was hot. Missouri hot; sticky and humid! Angie and I coordinated our meals that trip purely to address the “I want to eat what she is eating” potential. On the way home from that weekend, The Short Chic informed that she had the best weekend of her life!
We all found that we could sit and relax because the girls entertained each other. They were happy just playing with dolls in the tent and we had more down time for us. We found the holy grail of family weekends: me time, us time, family time, and friend time.
We have been group camping for three years now. Most of the time our group is just two families: The Taylor’s and The Todd’s. Occasionally our group has reached nearly ten families as we have found other friends who RV or camp. We have also gone solo camping when work schedules just could not be coordinated. Solo trips still provide an opportunity to unplug, rewind, and allow us to connect to nature. However, there is something a miss during those trips; our buddies. We find we spend the weekend wondering what our camping buddies are doing. We communicate frequently through text message. And on solo trips, trust me, the girls have let each of us know they were bored and camping without each other was no fun!
I am sure you have experienced at least one group vacation before and know that it is a very delicate balance to meet everyone’s needs. The smallest thing can upset the apple cart and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. To avoid that, group camping takes a little more negotiating and planning than solo camping.
We find ourselves talking about and negotiating the dates for trips, destinations, departure times, travel routes, as well as weekend menu. We divide up a grocery list. We find ourselves balancing preparing food, with cooking, and finally with clean up.
I don’t want to sugar coat any part of our camping experience. There are moments, that everyone just needs alone time, moments when you do not want to be social and hang out, and even moments after a week’s vacation that you are just done. Those moments are to be expected and when they occur, everyone just backs up and provides that space.
After three years, we have developed a ying and yang, a give and take, a sweet and salty pairing that works for us. Our common goal is to get away, enjoy life, and create an experience for ourselves and our children.