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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)

TITLE: The Legacy
By Anita Neuman


Some of my fondest childhood memories are of camping trips with my family. Every summer, our old trailer followed our reluctant station wagon on a quest to provide us with the perfect summer vacation. Sunny days were spent swimming, hunting for frogs, fishing and building huge sand castles. Rainy days found us curled up with stacks of books, playing Pit at the bed-turned-kitchen-table, or making crafts from pipe cleaners, egg cartons, tooth picks and straws. Every night, we four kids were packed neatly into our assigned beds, having rotated again so as to avoid fights over the top bunk. We whispered late into the night, hoping that our parents wouldn’t be able to hear us from their post by the campfire. And woe to the person who awoke first in the morning if they intentionally awakened anyone else.

Only now do I realize how much work it must have been for Mom and Dad to take four kids camping. It would have been no easy feat to pack our clothes, beach toys, fishing gear, swimming floats, campfire cookware, craft supplies, games, and bedding into every available compartment in the trailer. Then they needed to plan the menu so carefully that a week’s worth of food for six people could be crammed into that tiny fridge. We took turns for everything: where to sit at the table, sleeping on that top bunk, helping Dad build the campfire, washing dishes, and choosing what game to play next – devising and maintaining this schedule could have been a full-time job, but Mom always managed to pull it off with a divine combination of authority and grace. And it wasn't the plethora of available activities that kept us from boredom as much as it was the creativity of our parents that kept us constantly busy.

My parents still camp with their four children, although we’ve added three spouses and eight grandchildren to the mix. They’ve bought a new RV that only sleeps two, and the rest of us make do with our tents. They have plenty of room to pack their own food and clothes. The burden now falls to us to strategically cram the largest possible selection of entertainments into our car trunks. We’re the ones who need to deal with impatient little travelers, and sleep-deprived nighthawks. It’s our job to convince the children that the storms aren’t scary and to take them to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

Yes, the work is plentiful and all that effort hardly constitutes a vacation. But the rewards far outweigh the trouble. My children get to have water-fights with their cousins. They roast marshmallows and go star-spinning when it’s way past their bedtime. They get to go swimming with Grandpa and eat heart-shaped pancakes from Grandma’s griddle. They play baseball and Snakes and Ladders with their uncles and aunts. They use outhouses and play flashlight tag and make scary shadows on their cousins’ tent walls.

The work is plentiful, but I’m happy to do it in order that my children can make memories that will last a lifetime. And I’m grateful for parents who still go to the trouble to make more memories for me.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shari Armstrong 07/18/05
Family camping is great :) I really enjoyed reading this, and felt like it could have been my family, too :)
Nina Phillips07/19/05
I agree, I liked how the family grew, and grew together, shared memories together. It is a bond or legacy. God bless ya, littlelight
dub W07/20/05
Great, I am glad your family still camps together. Nice essay, thank you.