Conventional wisdom has it that the parents of teenagers spend lots of time preventing their kids from having sex. Actually, the reverse is true. One of the biggest challenges of camping with teenagers is trying to find ways that the adults can have sex. At my parents' camp, privacy is not an issue because they have acres of land, and consenting adults can pitch a tent far away from the teenage tent. But at a state park, we live in much closer quarters, all gathered in the same tent. Having sex while a couple of toddlers sleep soundly on their side of their tent is one thing, but if what you've got is a gang of teenagers playing cards by flashlight, you better have a Plan B.
When you travel with teenagers, you suddenly find yourself reverting to that adolescent state, looking desperately for ways to sneak off with your spouse for a little privacy. You find yourself constantly taking note of possibilities: a deserted country road where a vehicle can be parked, a picnic table in a pavilion that will be dark and empty after sunset, a drive-in movie theater in town. For those of you with children who are taking notes, let me stress that it is important to always leave a blanket in your vehicle. Tell the kids it's for picnics. And while the beach at night sounds like an ideal spot for romance, it is crucial that you carry a large beach towel slung casually on your shoulders as you head off for that walk with your spouse. Because sand rubbing against delicate body parts - let's just say, it can really ruin a moment. Deserted life guard chairs are a real find: make note of where they are during the day.
Be prepared for sarcastic comments from the your teenagers when you and your spouse leave for your evening walk. "Walk on the beach? That what we are calling it now?" And your own teenagers will not be the only obstacles. Last week my husband and I were pulling into a parking spot near the beach, just the two of us, when we were approached by a young man - he could not have been more than seventeen - who was wearing a ranger outfit and carrying a powerful flashlight. He informed us that the beach parking lot closed at 11 pm and we had to leave. And he stood there watching us until we did. See, even teenagers who don't know you will conspire against you.
Of course, gone too are the days when you can cuddle peacefully in a tent afterwards, talking about what parts you liked best. No, we will return to the tent after a nice walk on the beach to hear Daughter say into her cell phone, "Yeah, Mom and Dad just got back from having sex." This kind of thing horrifies my husband, who would prefer that our kids somehow not know that we have ever had sex. Ever. Boy in Black, who takes after his father, will ignore his sister completely and became suddenly intent on the card game, doing everything but putting his fingers in his ears. Certainly the forbidden fruit aspect adds a little excitement to vacation sex, but a week of camping with teenagers also gives me a new appreciation for the wonders of a locked bedroom door.