“The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.”– Jack London, The Call of the Wild.
This Canadian winter feels forever. It’s now the time when registration for summer camp sites opens and it makes me long for hiking through forests, swimming in lakes, and eating campfire food.
Camping is an annual tradition that my hubby and I started nearly 20 years ago with another couple. Aside from missing two summers, we’ve gone every year and discovered many beautiful Ontario provincial parks, including Algonquin, Awenda, Bon Echo, Killbear, Pinery and Sandbanks.
Camping was something we were so excited to experience through a child’s eyes; that sense of adventure, snuggling together in a tent, and jumping off rocks into refreshing lakes.
We took T camping right away, 3 months after we adopted him when he was 17 months old.
We took him first to beautiful Killbear in scenic Georgian Bay (pictured above). We bought a large new tent and brought a portable crib and plopped it inside. T slept with his pacifier at that time and was such a trooper and loved roasted marshmallows.
We tried swimming that weekend but the water was too cold and he started to cry.
Later that summer, we went camping over Labour Day weekend at beautiful Algonquin. The weather dropped to 8 degrees at night. We all thought we were going to freeze to death but it sure made us bond as a family, as we huddled close together under layers of blankets.
What I love most about the outdoors is the healing and calming quality of fresh country air, being surrounded by greenery, hearing the soothing sound of the lake and animals, being away from the frenetic pace of the city life, not being connected to technology (although that’s less true today!), and having vast amounts of space to run wild in.
It is these therapeutic qualities that I hope will bring periodic calm to the whirlwind frenzy inside T’s head.
I love when we used to be able to carry him on our backs with a toddler backpack when we’d go hiking. Now he can walk on his own, although whines about it when he gets tired and begs to be carried. Nope, sorry, you got legs!
Now that he’s old enough, I can’t wait to go back to Killbear and take him jumping off its well-known rock ledges into the cool lake – with a lifejacket on, of course!
Camping has not been without challenges. We have to watch T like a hawk, especially around the campfire or when cars drive through the campgrounds. When he had night terrors, it was anxiety inducing, because everyone would hear it in the quiet woods. He has high sensory seeking behaviors, so he’s usually covered in sand and dirt by the end of the day.
But it is during these moments that I remind myself that he is only going to be a kid for a short while and to just let him be. We are, after all, out in the wild.