Monday, April 19, 2010

Tent...check, meat....check,*t!

Before the arrival of our son, my wife and I used to be frequent campers. With a kombi that was kitted out with everything that was needed for a quick getaway, a quick decision to hit the road and go spend the night somewhere underneath the stars was never a difficult one to make. All we needed was to stop for meat and something to drink along the way and before you could say "matches" we would be sitting next to a fire smelling the meat on the braai. Pitching a tent was never a requirement and packing up the next day was always a pleasure.

After my son's arrival the frequency of camping decreased considerably. I was very tempted to put an ad in the paper saying "Kombi with bed to swop for family sedan with child seat", but I was scared it would raise some eyebrows or scare possible childless campers from considering it so fortunately I never posted that ad and today I still have my kombi. My son is three years old now, so camping seems to be the next logical step in teaching him about adventure and nature while having fun at the same time. Besides, he is potty trained already so changing a nappy inside the kombi at night will not be a bit of an unpleasant disturbance anymore. The only problem now is that the bed that was comfortable for two people is all of a sudden not big enough for three, especially not if the third person prefers to sleep perpendicular to the other two. So we bought a tent....

Last Friday it seemed like a perfect evening for camping. My wife and I ussually don't camp for more than two nights in a row. We prefer to keep our camping very basic, so we don't go and set up a whole laager with satelite TV and electric stoves and tumble dryers like many campers do nowadays. We have the basics, eat the basics, enjoy the simplicity of it all and when we get tired of eating out of paper plates we go home. One or two days living like that is enough for us to revive the spirit and become one with nature again. Unfortunately on Friday afternoon when I wanted to go get the "meat and something to drink", I realized that I will have to get more than that if we wanted to spend a decent night with a three-year-old out in the field somewhere. My gas bottles were empty, my gas light was not working, the pots and pans were rusted, most of the ready-to-camp utilities in my kombi were removed to make space for wetsuits and kite surfing gear, and getting all of this together within an hour or so would be a bit optimistic. Friday night's camping was quickly replaced with Friday night's picnic on the beach, but I was not going to give up on the camping idea so easily. From all my traveling I have learned that the only way to make sure that you have all the basics with you like a passport and toothbrush, a checklist is the best way to go. So I decided this weekend to do the same for camping...a camping checklist.

From past experiences and by running the camping event through my head, I managed to create a simple list with bare necessities. Most of this stuff used to be kept permanently in my kombi, but seeing that I have taken most of it out, it would be perfect to have this list closeby for our next trip to Yzerfontein or wherever the mood takes us. I will obviously put some stuff back in the kombi, but riding around with filled gasbottles in the sun when it is not really necessary is not a good idea, so I will keep the stuff that is save in the cupboard of the kombi and the rest somewhere in the garage where it is easily accessible. Now like any precedural document, and in my case a camping list, it has to be tested to be approved. The only way I am going to find out if I have everything on the list that I need, is to go camp. I will obvioulsy update the list as I realize what else is missing, but in the mean time I am checking my gas bottles and getting everything sorted for our next camp.  Watch this space for my next story on our first camp with a brand new camping checklist and a hyperactive three-year-old.....

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