One of the best things about camping is the freedom that it offers. You can leave the troubles of city life behind for a little while and just enjoy what nature has to offer. Sure, there are still dangers out in the wilderness. But it's different. And, unlike in the city, the kids can be afforded a little bit more freedom to get out and explore on their own.
And explore they did, beginning the moment we got out of the car. As my husband and I set up the tent and unpacked, they examined everything in the immediate surroundings. And quickly (following the rule that they had to stay close enough that they could still see us) their range expanded, and they became more adventurous.
I wasn't at all surprised that my daughter was quick to set out without looking back, because she's always been the Independent Miss. ("I can do it myself" has been her most common phrase since she was about 2 1/2.)
And I wasn't too surprised to see my son head out with her. He's always been more self-confident and open to new things when she is there for company (and support.)
What did surprise me a little was how quickly my son took to exploring on his own. This is the kids that doesn't like to go anywhere by himself, always asking "Can I have company?" He just likes the security of having someone there with him.
But it didn't take long at all before he ventured off in his own direction, not worrying at all that nobody was right there following his every move. We were all still fairly close by, obviously. And I could still see him and be sure that he was safe. But for a kid who doesn't even like being alone in a room in his own house, it was really nice to see him grow and be a little bit more comfortable on his own.
Of course, the vast majority of the time the kids still stuck together. (Exploring on your own is nice, but it's even better with a friend.) And they loved getting to go hiking together.
And as usual, this was a common sight. The two of them, together, heading off to conquer the world. No matter how often I see it, this still melts my heart a little every time.