Camping on Fire Island

Why can’t life be more like camping?

I took the darlings camping to Fire Island this weekend. We got there via subway, commuter rail, a ferry ride and a long walk.

We left NYC on a crowded, rush-hour Long Island

finding shade

Railroad. Four hours later, we were sitting around a picnic table near our tents, listening to singing birds in a bush and roasting S’mores.

As I pushed our canvas cart through Penn Station, (Deliver me not into Penn Station!) balancing backpack and toppling cooler , one of my darlings said, “You look like a homeless woman.” Knowing Lorenza Andrade Smith who is beautiful, kind and homeless, I took this remark to be a badge of honor.

In my own defense, we used or ate every single thing we brought. Admittedly, the journey to the campsite was not as much fun as the experience at the campsite.

Once there, the best parts were:

  • the empty early morning beach
  • watching my son go for a run on the beach
  • diving into the frigid Atlantic on a steamy day. And once in the wave, having that momentary panic of not knowing which way was up!
  • a cold shower in the communal bathhouse
  • seeing the antlers of a deer emerge under the boardwalk
  • in the shine of our flashlight, catching a glimpse of a fox running from our site
  • on the middle-of-the-night bathroom run, meeting a father and son with lanterns who followed a toad wherever it led
The worst parts were:
  • mosquitoes
  • mosquitoes
  • mosquitoes
My take-aways:
  • Nature is incredible
  • Find shade
  • You don’t need your iPhone to be happy (the kids left their phones at home!)
  • My kids are awesome
  • We need each other
  • We can lean on each other

The whole camping experience had an Outward-Bound bonding experience for the four of us. We were resourceful. Of course, the kids bickered, which usually drives me crazy, but they also engaged in long conversations and activities, such as counting one another’s mosquito bites, which I think, numbered 72. Seriously. (And we were using strong insect repellent!)

As usal, we couldn’t have done it without our friends.

  • The aforementioned Lorenza Andrade Smith who inspired us to camp
  • Our church’s Boy Scout troop and the Scout Mistress Louisa Anderson who lent us the three tents
  • Joanna Parson who encouraged us and was going to join us but instead got theater work and gave us her campsite (So we had bedrooms and a dining room/kitchen)

Maybe life is like camping — a lot of work, a lot of fun, and too much sun.

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