Now, the stereotype goes that modern Jewish people aren’t particularly comfortable when confronted with non-wifi environments, aka “nature,” but to see the Alma families arriving at the campsite after school on Friday was like a time warp to what it must’ve been like back in the desert: the cold hard efficiency of practiced hands setting up for another night beneath the stars. Well, at least for the Israelis, and non-Reception parents. Cars were unpacked, instructions consulted, tents rose up, tents sagged, instructions were reconsulted, tents stayed up, mattresses inflated. Then, at the end, partners asked if there was anything that they could do to help.
With shelter taken care of, and the kosher BBQ readied to cross off Maslow’s other needs of food and spiritual fulfilment, parents mingled and visited with their neighbours, in order to scope out each other’s accommodations in a pique of tent envy. And all the while, children ran about with abandon, utterly free to explore, play and commune with the great outdoors, within eye sight, and suncream on.
For that's what it's all really about isn’t it? The children. Getting the children so tired that they’ll pass out as soon as possible and leave us alone so we can have a beer with our friends in peace. So we can spend the rest of the night waking up every two hours and falling over the tent’s guy ropes on our way to the toilet, aka “nature.”
Saturday’s arrival brings me to my top camping tip: situate your tent near Yonatan Sasson. That guy can cook yo! His breakfast is so delicious it almost makes being woken up at 5am worth it. The morning’s treasure hunt was fun and gave the children the opportunity to be able to whine all over the campsite, but to be honest, I was somewhat distracted by that greatest of camping fears. The packing up of a wet tent.
Having to re-erect the tent to dry, would break me, so I spent the majority of the day fixated on my weather app like a hawk. Then my phone battery went, so I had to look at the sky. Weighing up my children’s happiness against my sanity, I called it. Our tent came down faster than an IBS sufferer’s trousers, and when those first drops fell and our tent was safely in the car, I knew the relief of Andy Dufresne at the end of The Shawshank Redemption. Although I probably smelt worse.
Reflecting in the side-mirrors reflection as we pulled away from the site, on our way to reembracing modernity at the drive-thru, I felt overwhelming gratitude to those who’d organised the camping and various activities, and awe and admiration for the true heroes of the occasion. Those staying until the Sunday.
By Josh Howie