We called up some friends who live near us and whom DH and I have known since our high school days (he and the other husband grew up together) and we lugged all our stuff to the first free campsite we could find. The contents of both our vans: hamburgers, buns, stuff to put on the burgers, fruit, corn on the cob, soda, charcoal, water, Dutch oven, ingredients for Double Chocolate Dutch Oven Cake (minus the can of Reddi-Whip, we were later dismayed to find out), 1 lantern, 6 glow sticks, 2 flashlights, 4 adults, 3 girls and 3 boys.
The four older kids had a great time exploring the trails (and the muddy creek) while the moms and dads and little girls got the fire going. The big kids were especially eager to help with the fire; we had an endless supply of sticks, bark, paper plates, etc. brought to us. Finally they trooped back to our campsite, feet muddied and arms mosquito-bitten, ready to eat. We finished the burgers, and settled all the kids on a fallen log near the fire with plates and cups full. That was a sight - 6 kidlets lined up on their seat, cans of soda in hands (a rare treat for both families), full plates on their laps, and mere yards away from a real fire. One of them joyfully raised his soda can as if for a toast, and you could clearly imagine what they might toast: "To...FIRE!" Everyone enjoyed some corn on the cob - Flip's fond farewell to it, unfortunately, as he is heading off to the orthodontist this week to have an expander installed in his upper palate - and of course, there was Dutch oven cake and s'mores to follow. Dark came on, the glow sticks were distributed, and shortly our campsite was raided by shadowy figures trailing blue, purple, pink and yellow streaks which shot through the air. Soon it was time to go, and it all had to be packed up - kids, food, glow sticks, cool rocks, snail shells and muddy socks. We said goodbye to our "camp"site and our friends, and the night was over.
No, it wasn't camping for real, but as far as we're concerned, we still got the best part of camping - cooking and eating outside, running around in the dark with lights, and of course...no one threw up. (This time.)