Last weekend we went camping, all six of us. It only took an hour in the car before we found ourselves in a tiny patch of beautiful, breathtaking, untarnished wilderness (fully furnished with a fire ring and water spigot, of course.) Who knew paradise was so near?

We brought up our dutch oven and made ourselves a grand feast for supper. We speared open a bag of marshmallows and taught the kids the acronym GBD: Golden Brown & Delicious. We told stories around the campfire unencumbered by televisions and computers. We watched the sun set–the whole show. And when the coals died down, we slunk into our slippery, silky sleeping bags all tuckered out–ready to gaze up at the stars until our eyelashes couldn’t hold our lids open any longer. (Sigh.)

I love camping.

Then at 1am…

“Waaaahhh! I want my mimi!” (That’s Baby-Speak for blankie-It was back in the car.)

“Waaaaahhh! I want more milk in my sippy!” (Also in the car, the last dregs of which were stashed in the cooler for the next day’s breakfast.)

“Waaaahhh! I’m cold! I want to sleep in mom’s sleeping bag too!” (My mummy bag was already at maximum capacity with a fussy Baby Dean in my arms.)

“Waaaahhh! For the last time, I don’t have to go to the bathroom!!” (Our four year old, Luke, hollered this piece of news as he shifted and hopped from foot to foot clutching his 4T underoos.)

And that’s when I thought,

I hate camping.

But the sun did rise, and with it my camp girl, can-do spirits. We hauled out the propane griddle, and soon the bacon was sizzling and the french toast was toasting. We snuggled up some more in our sleeping bags until it got too hot in there, and then we went for a short walk. Before we knew it, it was time to break camp and go home.

It’s an awful lot of work taking small kids camping, but we do it for the memories.

Choking down burnt french toast and doing all those extra loads of camp fire scented laundry are but small prices to pay for kids who know how to spin a great ghost story around a campfire and are experts at getting those marshmallows GBD.

It’s enough to make you want to do it all again s’more.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate and mother of four small children. You can read more on her blog at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com