When she was about 5 years old, I took Hodie camping. The outcome was traumatic for both of us in ways that don’t bear exploring too closely, but lead to an intransigence on her part with regard to repeating the experience. Once, years later, in a fit of frustration I said,

“Why do you hate nature!?”


Which, about summed it up.

My assertion that, indeed all of nature was a toilet, failed to convince and for many years she flat refused to participate in any activity which required her to stray more than 200 yards from indoor plumbing.

At some point, and entirely when I wasn’t paying attention, this attitude changed. I believe I have her father to thank, but I’ve never gotten confirmation on the matter. At some point in the last year she has gone from violent protest over any suggested encounters with the environment to imploring me to take her out into it for days on end, and plotting the purchase of a vehicle which will allow her to more or less live there for months.

Indeed, much like my persistent inability to remember that my daughter suffers from virulent and life-long motion sickness until mid-windy-curvy car ride, this information runs so counter to the template I have in my head *Hodie Hates Nature* that I have trouble reconciling the matter.

Every year we have an ongoing conversation about what she would like to do for her birthday. We ran the gamut from London to Disneyland, but ultimately she settled on the last thing I would have predicted; camping.

We went to Kahneeta last year, which is camping in the same way going over Mt. Hood in a station wagon is akin to doing so in a covered wagon. We slept in a mass-produced tee-pee tent with a metal fire pit on a concrete slab. There were vending machines, a heated pool with water slides, and mini-golf. This did not qualify as “nature.”

This year she wanted the real deal; full on tent camping. We settled on a spot up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest along the Washougal River. It’s unquestionably a sentimental choice, as it holds almost all of the happy memories I have of my own childhood, and she explicitly chose it for that reason.

“If you have to go camping for 2 days with 3 teenage girls I at least want you to get to do it somewhere that makes you happy.”

She’s a peach, my girl.

Apart from the ROUGHLY THREE HOURS we spent battling Friday afternoon traffic to get out of town, the whole experience was really pretty great. Hodie has good taste in people, and I genuinely enjoyed hanging out with her friends. They are both thoughtful and polite, and deeply amused by my frank and unconventional parenting style. They bore with good grace both my shit-flipping and my earnest attempts to talk to them about conscientious self-care which I think bodes well for them as humans.

Clearly Prepared For Wilderness Adventure

Clearly Prepared For Wilderness Adventure

They responded with equanimity to the fly-by-the-seat scenario we were in with regard to finding a campsite – they can’t be reserved in advance so it’s very much take what you can get – and crucially, lack of bathrooms. They were cheerful in the face of a burn ban, and perfectly content with a tealight campfire. They even reacted well to the ultimate decision to cut camping short in favor of a basement slumber party to avoid the increasing threat of rain for which I did not properly prepare.

The samosas and horror movies courtesy of the electricity at home may have helped ease the transition, but the ultimate outcome was a birthday weekend that everyone – myself included – enjoyed. Not since the triumph of The Enchanted Birthday (age 7) have we had such an unmitigated success on a celebratory activity. If nothing else, it will have been enough to alter the notion that Hodie Hates Nature once and for all.