The first camping trip of the year is unique in many ways.

For one thing, there’s the anticipation of finding out which critical thing you forgot to put in the camp box (you know the one, it’s the one thing you promised yourself you wouldn’t forget to replace … like, one year, it was the matches).

There’s that feeling of dread when you realize you “borrowed” those campfire oven mitts for the barbecue last fall. That really should have been a clue to buy your own sometime over the last 10 months.

All of that, though, is overshadowed by that now-unfamiliar feeling of, of, … calm? peace? connection? quiet?

I’m not sure what that feeling is, but I only find THAT feeling while camping. I even like that morning chill that makes it so easy to get up and get moving (for the warmth of the fire and the morning … coffee).

The sounds of the first camping trip are unique as well: sitting at the campfire listening to the crackle of the fire; the jingle of the ice as it washes across the shore; the battles of the kids as they determine seasonal ownership of the choice camp pillow/roasting implement/tent position.

All that will soon give way to the playful sound of them searching out wood and rocks, spotting eagles and fish, imagining they hear something larger …

Note to self: add bear spray to the camp box.

Even the smells of the first camp trip are different. The cool air smells uniquely crisp, and the outhouse smells uniquely clean (but that won’t last long past Ben’s morning bacon).

The smell of mildew from the camp towel, packed while it was still moist, is unwelcome, but surprisingly not so the smell of clothes worn two days around the campfire.

And there is just something unmistakable about the way coffee tastes in the morning at the campsite – along with a pot of beans cooked over the open flame; that little bit of wood ash in your eggs; burnt marshmallow – that you can’t reproduce outside of a campsite.

All of those flavours are amplified by the length of time that has passed since the last time you experienced them.

I love that first camping trip of the season. Partially because of the unique sounds and smells and feelings.

Mostly I think because it is only the first.

Sitting here now, on my first camping trip, I am already planning my next, and the next, and the next.

It’s important to get that first camping trip in early. Summer is short and there always seems to be more trips planned than weekends available when I look back from the other end of summer.