So I wouldn’t call it a formal invitation, or one that required any stationery, but I was invited along for the first time to the Sussman camping adventure. For years, Josh has been taking the boys that are deemed old enough camping. They usually go for a night during Pesach, and they often take a night or two during the summer as well.
Me? Well, I’ve stayed home with the child or children who aren’t yet old enough, tough enough, or potty-trained enough to join in. Finally, however, Josh and I decided that enough was enough. For how many years can you sit around waiting for the youngest kid to be potty trained?
And so, my formal invitation arrived, and I accepted it with relish. The entire trip was really quite an experience for me. I honestly felt like an outside observer.
When we got to the campsite, the boys sprang into action. Virtually as soon as I had found my way to the campground and made sure that Yakir was with me, the tents were set up. Poof. Just like that. The boys were unbelievable - rolling out maps, getting sleeping bags set up, throwing down rugs and heading out to collect fire wood.
It was really a pleasure watching them in an environment that I know nothing about - and one where they seem to be so comfortable (what little boy isn't comfortable rolling around in dirt, making fires, burning marshmallows and eating lots of meat?).
The next morning, there was Josh cooking up a delicious matza and egg breakfast while I was still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and running after Yakir. And then we were off for our first day of hiking.
Now, I'm well aware that I'm the weak link in the testosterone-filled home. Josh keeps reminded me every time that I complain on a hike or ask if we can make a detour to a cafe that I better keep up...or get left behind by my group of growing men.
And he's certainly right. It was hysterical to watch the boys on this rigorous three hour adventure. The four older boys zoomed ahead, jumping over boulders, gliding down mountains and giggling all the way. Yakir was a bit crankier on Josh's back, but he did ok overall, and Zeli was amazing. Some of the rocks he had to scale were larger than he is, and he declared himself a "mountain man" and just kept moving forward. I tried to reason with myself that if my three year old wasn't complaining, then I really couldn't.
On the second night, we stayed in a very cool igloo of sorts at the camp ground.
The boys appeared to have boundless energy, wrestling on the mats we had out for sleeping, roasting marshmallows and asking how late they could stay up. Yes, I was asleep before they settled down.
Then, the last day, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall. When we got there, I enjoyed watching Yehuda and Matan go scurrying off, looking for crabs and fish and getting wet and dirty. Amichai and Eliav weren't far behind.
At one point, when we were walking in this deep ravine, we stumbled upon a cow! How the cow had gotten there (and how it was possibly going to get out) was anybody's guess.
And then, as we headed home, we offered the boys the treat of a bit more commercial food. What Pesach trip is complete, after all, without a trip to a Kosher-for-Pesach McDonalds? The boys loved the idea of going to McDonalds (although not the potato buns...those were gross) and the little ones dug into their Happy Meals.
But I had the happiest meal of all, watching all of my boys so comfortably navigating the natural world around them, exploring Eretz Yisrael and enjoying themselves without spending much at all.
What a gift to me for Pesach!
While the committee is still out voting, I believe I've swayed enough of them that I'll be voted in for the next trip. And I certainly look forward to that adventure and to seeing the many ways that my little men surprise me and show their talents along the way.