Roughing It Out in the Wilderness: Books to Keep You Camping

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Roughing It Out in the Wilderness:

Books to Keep You Camping

08.06.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I’ve been literally disconnected the past few weeks since I packed my bags, my tent, and my husband, and  children to the wilderness of Camp Byng, as in Byng Island—and yes, there was no electricity, nor Wi-Fi, nor any other means of connection that required a plug-in.

It was, for me, a test of sorts, of my ability to adapt to a different environment, to stretch my patience as well as my ingenuity, and ultimately learn how to relax in the face of challenges. And I’ll be the first to admit, I pretty much failed on all counts. This was, after all, my first camping trip with my new family since my last camping trip with my parents as a kid in 1986.

Our travel consisted of two-to-three hours of driving, one traffic jam, and two pit stops, when I realized my skinny jeans were too tight and that proper dress for camping should really consist of track pants, sneakers, or hiking boots rather than sexy sling back sandals.

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camping - drive
Our drive to Byng Island. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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—I have to inject here, in fairness, that in all consideration, my husband and I were up the night before until 3:00 a.m. the next morning still packing for a family of four consisting of two young ones: a nine-year-old hyperactive boy, and a feisty three-year-old girl whose only joy in the outdoors has extended only as far as our own backyard.

Thankfully, my brother-in-law, a law enforcer and self-made boy scout, helped my husband pitch our tent, while my brother and his girlfriend came to the rescue with our sunshade—et voila! Camp was on!

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E. pitching the last peg of our tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
E. pitching the last peg of our tent. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We enjoyed a good dose of outdoor living with a morning 1 km trek to the washrooms to relieve ourselves and to shower. And when I say “shower,” I mean effectively trying to balance your naked self and your clothes from touching or toppling all over the dirty floor in a claustrophobic stall meant for someone half your size, while avoiding spiders and mosquitoes from targeting you for their all-buffet breakfast even before you’ve had a chance to eat yours.

Am I complaining? No. It took great skill and dexterity, plus advance planning in order to maintain some form of freshness in the wonderful wild. I was extremely proud of myself. For you novice campers, don’t forget to wear your flip-flops in the shower, bring a plastic bag for your wet clothes, and a mosquito clip to keep those bugs from eating you alive!

And, I’ll say this, it’s glorious to shower when on a camping trip. You realize and relish the importance of cold, clean water in your life. I’m a sole believer in the advocacy of clean water. Do what you can now to preserve this precious resource. It’s bad enough we have to slather ourselves in the guck of sunscreen against the harsh rays of the sun just to go outside due to the irresponsibility and neglect of our environment, but I’d hate to see the day when clean water simply ceases to exist.

But, aside from showering ballerina-style, we also enjoyed the commune of a kitchen tent, where we gathered to eat our grilled breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while reminiscing our turbulent and quick childhoods. And there’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee in the morning that you brewed yourself with only a fire and a metal can. (Beat that, Starbucks!)

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Family bonding during our camping trip, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Family bonding during our camping trip, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And of course, the kids were proud to showcase their scout-skills with the fine art of roasting the perfect marshmallow.

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Scoutmaster showing his troops how to build a campfire. Seems no one is paying attention, just anxious to roast their marshmallows. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.
Scoutmaster showing his troops how to build a campfire. Seems no one is paying attention, just anxious to roast their marshmallows. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.

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The boys roasting marshmallows. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The boys roasting marshmallows. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And though it rained a bit on our trip, the weather allowed us some real time to hide in our tents, rest, relax, and bond with our families—especially for my daughter who was shocked to realize we were actually going to sleep outside. She was even further shocked at the sight of our “huge night-light!”

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The kids getting ready for bed in their sleeping bags. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids getting ready for bed in their sleeping bags. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The trip was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with old family friends with whom we hadn’t gone camping with for more than 20 years. And it was also an opportunity to test our ability in facing nature head-on, which undoubtedly forced me to not only disconnect electronically, but to also reconnect with loved ones the old-fashioned way.

I was happy to discover just how intelligent and grown-up my younger brother turned out to be during our heart-to-heart conversation that not only changed my perspective and my life, but lasted until 3:00 a.m. over a campfire.

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My kid brother---who isn't a "kid" anymore. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My kid brother—who isn’t a “kid” anymore. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And I was able to spend some quiet, quality time with my daughter who had been missing me since she transferred to her own “big bed” earlier this year.

M. enjoying a quiet walk on Byng Island. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
M. enjoying a quiet walk on Byng Island. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The trip overall, was a learning experience—and one, we, as a family, look forward to participating in again next year.

Here are some camping books you might like to consider for your next trip:

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt

scaredy squirrel goes camping

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A Camping Spree with Mr. McGee by Chris Van Dusen

camping spree with mr magee

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Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide by Lynn Brunelle

camp out ultimate kids guide

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The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids by Helen Olsson

the down and dirty guide to camping with kids

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Have you ever been on a camping trip?

What’s the worst or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Recommend a great place to go camping.

Recommend a good book to read for a camping trip.

What’s your best camping tip?

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zara bird autograph

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2 thoughts on “Roughing It Out in the Wilderness: Books to Keep You Camping”

  1. Better you than me! lol I’m glad you had a good time, though, and that you found some good camping books! I’d rather read about someone else’s camping trip than go on one myself…

    1. It’s not for everyone, even me. It’s not my natural environment while others can really thrive going camping. But, I think that’s what I like about it, the challenge. Thanks!

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