Camping for the first time


I took my granddaughter camping this weekend at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. It was the easiest, tamest type of car camping there can be but it was quite an adventure for both of us. It was her first camping trip and it was the first time I camped just for the sake of camping since her father was her age – eight years old.

It didn’t matter where we went but I chose Jordan Lake just outside of Chapel Hill when it was still 90 degree and sweltering. I pictured lots of swimming and I requested a campsite by the lake.

Hannahcamping-tentBy the time we got there on Saturday, it was 60 degrees and drizzling. We had lunch and put up the tent. She was a great help in holding the tent because I couldn’t put it up by myself. When children are given real work to do, they shine and she realized that this was real.

“Let’s get the tent up before it really starts pouring.

But it didn’t really pour. We hiked on a trail in the Poplar Point campground. A group of kids were in the water and I couldn’t really say that she couldn’t go. So she put on shorts, a T-shirt over her bathing suit and her water shoes and she played in the water. She lasted 15 minutes and her stuff was still wet the next day.

But camping to her was all about making S’mores and I wasn’t going to disappoint her. I’m not good at making a real fire but I bought fire started and charcoal impregnated with lighter fluid. I brought lots of newspapers and of course, the S’mores fixings. This turned out to be a $30 marshmallow roast.

I didn’t buy bundles of wood because a bundle was just too heavy. We scavenged around the campsite but the place was well picked over. The fire lasted long enough to toast several marshmallows and make the S’mores. [If her parents are reading this, yes, we did have a real dinner before that – backpacking pasta primavera.]

Hannahcamping-countingringsIt drizzled on and off all night but it was dry by the time we got up. The tent was soaked but it had stopped raining.

As we broke camp, a female ranger drove past and waved. I asked her to stop and have Hannah meet her. I didn’t catch her name but the ranger made a great impression on her. The ranger explained that she carried a gun but that they send you for all types of training. She was a good, attractive role model.

We bundled up and went on a longer hike at another campground at Lake Jordan.

As with most state parks, the trail was well marked. She’s a motivated walker but everything interests her. She counted rings on a tree stump. Hannahcamping-mushroomsShe marveled at every mushroom – and with this rain there were lots of mushrooms. She was upset (and so was I) about the garbage left by boaters on the beach. 

Like most newbies, she overdressed first thing in the morning. Hannahcamping-onbridgeBy midmorning, she was in a T-shirt and had partially unzipped her pant legs. I excused her from carrying a pack and I was carrying her entire wardrobe, it seemed.

But she liked it all, even with the rain and the anemic fire. Next time, we’ll try another North Carolina State Park.


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