Cane Creek State Park in the delta of southern Arkansas is a collection of swamps, tree-studded lakes and some of the muddiest trails we have ever ridden. The beauty and serenest of nature there was breathtaking at times and frustrating at others, there were mornings we woke up, stepped out of the tent to clouds of newly transformed mosquitos, not yet ready to attack but by nightfall we knew what being prey feels like. A campground is the perfect playground for both the parent and the child, unlike entering someone's home, the campsite seems to have an open door policy, encouraging new friendships and harboring old ones and sInce our camping usually includes racing, the circle of familiar faces are always included.
There is something about a fire pit that calls to children, instructing them to collect wood, pile leaves and set up chairs. The fire seems to draw families in bringing with it's fierceness and beauty, a calmness that holds you for hours in it's warmth and light, begging you to feed it (and you do), adding more to create a glow that last until your eyes and body are weary for sleep.Little hands, big hands, building the camp up and tearing it down. We are never short on help, some may try to do all the work and a few have to be reminded to help but everyone does their part. I was asked recently how we travel, camp and race with a family of 8. My response was, "We are getting better each time, we don't expect perfection and we involve our kids as much as we can." I would not keep encouraging family campouts if 80% of the time we weren't having fun.
John, Jacob, Julia and Jillian know how to camp. They know the rules of the tent, how to shower and help prepare meals. They know to move over to the side of the road when a car comes creeping by and how to be quite during certain hours. They love camping, each new place is an adventure for them.
Jett and Joel are our 20%. Each night during this trip, I had to drive them around to help them fall asleep, the tent was a big foreign thing that didn't bring comfort at the end of a long day.
I will tell you that by October when we take our last camping trip, they will understand the rules of no dirty feet or shoes in the tent. Showering with them won't be so much work and keeping them away from the road will not be so difficult. The more we do it the easier it will become.
This is one race that we will keep coming back to each year.