Our first ‘let loose’ long weekend will have some rules

MIKE RAINONE/Hammertime

Since the inception of the Victoria Day holiday, the May long weekend has been that glorious break in routine where most everyone can let loose a little and finally cast off the boredom of winter.

While many families pack up the motorhome, trailer, tents and all the rest of their toys for that first outdoor adventure of the spring, others will plant their gardens, and the rest may just choose to stay home, relax, and get out of the hustle and bustle.

We can only hope that by this time our dedicated farmers are out fashioning their crops, while the sports fanatics will be touring the golf courses and ball fields, and others will be hidden away somewhere still trying the watch the hockey and basketball playoffs.

Some of the rules that always apply to this first long weekend party include the banning of liquor at most provincial campgrounds and some fire restrictions, while a few have even gone as far as stating that no campers under the age of 25 will be allowed unless they are accompanied by their parents.

The many joys of camping

No matter what our present age might be, most of us will certainly have many fond and funny memories of getting out and roughing it under the stars with family and friends. Allow me to share some of these cherished times this week as we all prepare to enjoy and challenge the great outdoors, while hopefully blending and sharing the occasion with family and old or newfound friends.

• Camping at this time of the year can present a mixed bag of weather conditions, which can easily be solved by being prepared for anything, and dressing in layers. Some campgrounds may be still covered with snow, but as it warms up, all those extra clothes can come off, and we can be resplendent in our new shorts, T-shirts, and of course sassy swimsuits.

• I know that our kids, as they grew older were sometimes a little leery about spending the whole weekend with their parents, but we compromised by allowing them to bring along a buddy, and maybe even getting to hang out in their own tent. Worst case scenario, if it storms or rains, everyone may end up in the trailer at 2 a.m., including the very wet family dog.

For those not wanted, but usually inevitable miserable days, it is a good idea to bring along lots of games or books, and maybe even that little television to watch some movies or play video games. Camping has got a whole lot more modern these days, what with A/C, furnaces, inside and out stoves, and I even spied a fancy one with a portable dishwasher. I think the most fun is getting down and dirty without all those comforts of home.

• I always found that one of the greatest treats about camping was getting to eat out, without the same rules that we have at home. How nice is it to wake up to the yummy smell of bacon or pancakes cooking and sizzling in the morning. Usually good old Dad gets rousted out early to start the fire, and after chowing down on all the goodies, we never complained about doing the dishes.

• If we were taking part in one of those fabulous summer camps, like cubs, scouts, brownies, church, or whatever, it was the bravest one who would get up and make a mad dash for an early morning dip in the frigid lake, after which you could declare that you had washed and brushed your teeth.

• Camping out is always the best way to get real close to nature in all its finest. This includes bugs, worms, poison ivy, mud, and whatever other little surprises that might be wandering around or growing out there in our great outdoors. We could usually depend on dear old Mom or the camp boss to have a great assortment of bug spray, calamine lotion, bandages, or whatever else was needed to fix us up and get us on our way for a few more days.

• Another memorable event of camping is sitting around the campfire at night on logs or lawn chairs, spinning scary tales, singing our hearts out, and nibbling on such treats as hot dogs, burgers, marshmallows, and whatever else tastes just a little better when exposed to fresh air and dirt. We are usually allowed to stay up a little later, but on most occasions everyone eventually powered out, then snuggled up in their sleeping bags, and had a great night’s snooze.

• Whatever choice of holiday adventure you may choose this weekend, please have fun, but play safe, and respect your campground or picnic neighbours. It is a simple courtesy to put out our fires, keep the recreation grounds clean, and put our garbage in the many bins that are available. It is quite likely that we will be coming back to this same great place again, so we need to leave it as pristine as we found it.

Try to make a camp list and pack up during the week, head out early, have your campsite number with you, and drive safely to your fun destination.

In the meantime, and the in between time, have a great week, all of you!

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