Remember when your kids were little and you would drop them off at preschool (or child care)? They would give you the big doe eyes and crocodile tears? Some would even grab onto your leg and beg you not to go. I don’t know about you, but if that happened when I dropped of one of my girls I would think about it the WHOLE time I was gone. For the three or four hours they were at preschool I would worry about their day and if they were okay. Inevitably I would come back to pick them up only to find the tears only lasted five minutes and they had a great day with their friends and teachers. I, on the other hand, had a miserable morning worrying about them.
Well don’t think that that goes away just because they get older! I know nothing about camping and backpacking. NOTHING. When Jill had the opportunity to go backpacking with our church we thought this would be a fun adventure for her. She planned for it (with her Dad and Aunt because I am useless here), trained for it (carrying backpacks of books on our hikes) and stressed over it. She was set.
The weather had been hot and dry all month. So much so that three of the four trails the group could have taken were covered in wild fire. There was a forecast of a bit of rain but, in all the years that the church had been taking senior high kids into the woods it had never rained more than a day. No big deal.
I helped drive all of the backpackers into the woods and to the trailhead. Boy was that rustic! No cell service, no structures, no nothing. But they were eager. We dropped Jill’s group off first and after some confusion and a quick prayer they were off. (I didn’t want to embarrass her by singling her out and giving her a big hug, but I regretted that decision after she left because all I could remember was the stressed/worried look on her face as she anticipated her departure.) I dropped off the other group at a different trail head an hour later and was off.
When I left the backpackers they all had their rain covers and garbage bags covering their packs. The groups set up camps (separately as they were to meet up on the trail the second full day) and had a fun evening.
The weather report was not good and Mother Nature delivered a wallop. Record setting rains hit the area that first night and brought thunder and lightening storms intermittently through the area. This is where the scared Mama comes in. When it started pouring at 3am here I was immediately awake thinking about how miserable it must be up at the camp site. When the rain and thunder swept through at 6:30am (mind you all of these storms took a few hours to get to the backpackers) I could not wrap my mind around where they would go to stay out of danger. Into the trees? Is that safe? How would they dry out? There was a burn ban in the whole area so no camp fires to get warm and dry their wet sleeping bags. Remember, this is just the first full day of four out in the woods.
When the group leaders made the tough call to cancel the rest of the trip (due to safety concerns) I was relieved. But also sad and disappointed for my girl. I know how much she had been looking forward to this and how much planning she had put into it. All for just 24 hours in the woods. Bummer!
When Jill came home with her camping buddies they spent over an hour sharing all of the fun and funny times they had on their short adventure. Yes they were wet, but not as much as we thought. (Although one kid was taller than his tent so his head definitely got wet!) There was a lot of thunder and lightening but it wasn’t scary, just annoying. Jill never had a chance to get cold either because she was perfectly prepared. My girl is a big optimist so she made the best of the worst and had a good time. She is ready to go again. (She was in the minority on this though and there are a lot of kids, especially from the other group, that claimed they would never go again.)
Here’s the lesson I learned in HER adventure. It doesn’t get easier for us parents just because our kids are older. We want the best for our kids and we want them to be happy! We see our kids off for their adventures and are left with that picture in our minds. Jill was stressed and worried when I dropped her off and that is how I pictured her the whole time dealing with those adverse conditions. But just like with preschool, five minutes after I drove away she was fine. She had a good time growing in her adventure. She proved to herself that she could carry that heavy pack, take care of herself in the woods and enjoy herself in the process.
I’m off to call my Mom. Just in case I have left her with the impression that I am stressed or worried about something I need to make are she knows that I am good. (Great, in fact, now that I have all my little ducks under one roof!) I don’t want HER worrying about ME!