My forefingers pinch a crumpled paper bag, the remnants of a $1 lolly mix. In the other hand are two lemonade popsicles, melting beneath my fingertips. My thumbs are left to steer. We’re rebelliously bareheaded. Barefooted too. We ride our bikes in convoy through the campground along the carefully formed road. 5km per hour read the signs. The traffic on this highway is dominated by skateboards, bikes next and the occasional pedestrian. We watch for the cars that rarely pass. It’s the last long weekend of the summer and camping is where it’s at.
There’s an intimacy with camping that you can’t recreate. Where else would you wear a faded hoodie over your PJ’s and erratic bed hair, parading yourself before perfect strangers as you navigate your way to the hot water zip in the utilities block. Where else can you engage in conversation with a stranger about the perfect piece of toast, the best camping trailer configuration, or drink a summer rose in a white melamine mug, sipping from the blue line around the rim.
Children are free to roam in ways they couldn’t never do on urban streets. There’s often TV rooms with old sofas that have lost half their stuffing and an old school TV set in the corner. Board games and making a comeback too. Kids graze on food and spill crumbs at their leisure, like wild animals on a desert plain. They can play. Lifelong friendships are formed through the camping bond.
We’ve stayed in hotels, we’ve stayed in motels, we’ve stayed in strangers’ living rooms through air b n b. We’ve even slept on ferries. But nothing brings you back to the basics of living like camping. You can charge your cell phone in the camp kitchen, leaving your expensive phone at the mercy of others’ honesty. But it really is the best excuse to unplug. You don’t need a Fitbit to tell you that trudging between the camp kitchen and the tent, with the washing up bucket in tow, will complete your daily steps.
Our day is dictated by the end of the season, the passing of the equinox. Campers wake with the birds, or the sounds of children who’ve already slipped from their sleeping bags. There’s no need to stay up late. Two hours of citronella candlelight will feel like you’ve been partying for hours. You breathe in fresh air as the lights go down. Excited about another day.