I took the family camping last week to Frontenac State Park on the bluffs above the Mississippi River near Red Wing. Before having children, my wife and I used to go backpack camping and would bring along as little as possible. Now it seems like we bring everything but the kitchen sink. We used to make fun of people like us, but having a high chair for Hazel frees up our hands to do something other than chase after a two year old, if only temporarily. (Hey, at least we are past the Pack N Play stage.)
Even so, getting away and camping in a tent can be a great way to remind us of some of the simple things we take for granted when we are home. Like when the propane canister runs empty in the middle of making breakfast (oops!), or when the cell phone goes completely dead after two days (probably a blessing there). or how you have to make dozens of trips back and forth to fill the jugs of water.
I’m not complaining. I love camping and I think there are some really valuable conservation lessons for our kids in trips like these. Setting up home in the woods requires planning and care. If you want to stay dry, eat hot food and have enough water for cooking, drinking and cleaning you have to be mindful of your resources. And this mindfulness begins before pulling out of the driveway. After making sure we have packed everything we might possibly need or want, we make sure the furnace is turned off, we switch off any power strips and unplug anything that doesn’t need to be running.
My hope is that Henry and Hazel will enjoy playing house in the woods, while at the same time developing an appreciation for all the conveniences we have at home. And hopefully they will come to see that mindfulness of resources isn’t something that only happens on camping trips.
Update: Our team, The Mill Pond Minimizers, is still behind in the CERTs Family Energy Face-Off competition. Last count we were down 37,620 to 76,025. We could use your help to get back in this and we welcome all comers to join our team and gain some ground on the Penny Pinchers.