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Nature Mom: Camping Cure-all

Marley and Indie go for a paddle

A neighbour who has little kids told me about their family vacation to a cabin in the country. She was shocked when her hardy, active kids complained and complained. The bed was uncomfortable, the cabin smelled, it was cold, there was nothing to do … and on it went. As the complaints piled up, so did my friend’s amazement. “Wow! My kids have become urban prima donnas!”

Her story got me thinking. Are my kids urban prima donnas? Sure we spend time tending our garden and hanging out at the park, but are they too attached to the ways of the city? Would they appreciate living in nature for a few days without the comforts of home? Well, for city dwellers, there’s no better way to get immersed in nature than camping, which is exactly what we did.

Our first trip of the summer was car camping. As soon as we arrived, the kids just ran and ran and ran. They had to endure crazy mosquito bites, stay clear of poison ivy, listen to a screeching owl at night, and eat and sleep in ways they weren’t used to. But they did it, and loved it (well, not so much the mosquito bites). Not bad for city kids.

On the canoe ready to go
On the canoe ready to go

The next weekend we kicked it up a notch, left the car behind, and went on our first family canoe trip with friends. We piled into a canoe with just enough gear, food (including an overabundance of marshmallows) and clothing for three days. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter, Marley, had a rocky start. She was miserable – the sun was in her eyes, the canoe was uncomfortable, my paddle was getting her wet, etc. In fact, she boldly stated, “This is the worst canoe trip, EVER!” I immediately thought of my friend and her prima donnas. But I bit my tongue and hoped her anxiety of the unknown would be short lived.

Within a few minutes of physically (and mentally) landing at our campsite, she wandered around, looked out at the water and to my surprise said, “It’s so beautiful here.” What?? Is this the same girl I was trapped in a canoe with 10 minutes earlier? Unbelievable!

Marley and Jude search for frogs in a marsh
Marley and Jude search for frogs in the marsh

The next three days were amazing. The weather was really cold so no swimming. But for hours they played a fairy game, which entailed looking in the holes of trees for fairy treasures. They played Tic Tac Toe in the sand with sticks and pinecones, searched for frogs in a marsh and tended to an injured dragonfly.


Without a doubt, eating marshmallows by the fire was the highlight for my kids. Not exactly the nature connection I’m after, but from what I could see, the urban prima donnas have bypassed us for now. Let’s hope I can say the same when they’re teenagers!

Photo credit: Jonni Super Photography

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