Monday, November 20, 2006

Camping Friends

Another pregnancy announced today. Another birth. Two babies and three pregnancies in the last month or two. I'm thrilled for them all, of course, and I marvel at the changes that are going to be happening in the next year.

Every year we go camping with a variety of couples. There's about 20 of us (about 8 couples, a few single folk) that shuffle in and out of who's coming and going, but there's a core of probably 5 couples who always seem to go. We're not close with them the rest of the year, but they're our camping friends, and it's a great bond. We get a big group site up in Northern Wisconsin and we go for the weekend. We drink around the campfire, we swim in the nasty algae-infested lake to stay cool, we stay up super late and make gourmet food over flame, we play bocce and Scrabble and read and hike. It's a blast.

The centerpiece couples, the ones who do all the work organizing, are having babies; one is pregnant, the other trying foster care after infertility. I suspect a third couple will be trying soon if they aren't already, and a fourth already has to miss out on most outings because they don't like to leave their boys for an entire weekend. The face of our friends, at least that group of friends, is changing. And while we're lucky it's changing while we and our friends are all in our 30s (at 29 I'm the baby of that group, it would seem), it's still odd to see it changing.

When I was growing up, camping was a part of life; it still is for my parents and my niece C. I think camping can be a great experience for kids, but it's no place for babies or young toddlers, for certain, and the atmosphere we have when camping — drinking, swearing, being grown-ups — isn't exactly kid-friendly. It's one of the things my husband and I like about it. We went camping with my parents and C last summer and we spent the entire time entertaining her and making sure she didn't go somewhere alone, or get too close to the fire. Oh, we had fun with her of course, but we put our foot down when she wanted to stay in our tent with us because we SO needed that quiet time.

I like camping with our camping friends because it doesn't feel like those family camping trips. It's something else altogether. I think this year, since babies and pregnancies are going to get in the way, we'll start planning to camp with a different group of friends. Maybe we'll see these folk out in the clubs when we go up to Wisconsin, but they'll probably fade into parenthood oblivion. We'll keep in contact but not in touch via LiveJournals and MySpaces. But I think the days of us hanging out with that crowd are numbered. I'm sad to lose them, but in reality I know that they're no longer going to be the people they once were.

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