In the beginning, the children watched us set up the trailer, for how else could they learn. Our son squatted down to watch Dad pull out the legs of the trailer. All the children watched Dad flip out the canvas and poles of the collapsed tent. They even studied Mom as she lugged supplies from station wagon to trailer. Then we added a screen house to be bug free for meals. Unfortunately, all the screen house poles looked the same…to Mom.
Then the entertainment steps up a bit. Remember, camp set up occurs after driving for numerous hours, usually in the heat of summer. Now the children are ready to “help.” As Dad tilts the 500 pound trailer, a brother sister team pull down each leg, pausing to count the slots to make it even while Dad’s face turns red, his muscles bulge.
“My leg is shorter than yours,” one member reports.
Dad doesn’t care anymore. “We’ll deal with it later,” he tells his helpers.
Next the team of children attempts the unfolding of the tent canvas. The object is to lengthen the poles little by little, Dad instructs. Suddenly, the children are screaming inside the tent as it collapses a third time before the wing nuts are properly tightened.
The rest of the crew attempts the screen house spider skeleton with Mom. “A” goes to “B,” no that’s “D” Mom tells a twin. The problem is that the other twin is riding around camp on the fourth straight piece, using it as a stick pony. And now the oldest girl can’t find the “E.”
It is a good idea to string lights around your campsite. This helps you distinguish your campsite from another when heading back to camp in the dark from the rest rooms. Unfortunately, one of the twins becomes entangled in the lights as she feeds Dad a string from the knot.
We are almost finished setting up camp, we tell the children. We just need to unload the turtle on top of the van and the interior of the van. A production line forms. Mom tries to be on the receiving end into the trailer to distribute and organize supplies, but things move too quickly because the children wish to go to the pool. Possessions are shoved haphazardly into the trailer. No one can find the toilet paper or toothbrushes when necessary.
“What are we going to do tomorrow?” the children ask.
“Can we just get finished with today, please,” the exasperated parents reply.
Camping neighbors are wonderful. They enjoy the show we put on setting up camp. One time, we received half an ice cold watermelon for our performance. We enjoyed it at dinner.
Setting up camp does take patience and time. Trust me. It gets better with practice and age.