Thursday, August 21

Camping for a day

I love camping. Funny, because we didn't camp as a family when I was growing up, but I've since discovered it's one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. We haven't had many opportunities to camp in recent years, or maybe just haven't seized the opportunities, but are still excited about introducing our children to the joys of living for a weekend in the great outdoors.
Last time we camped, my oldest was 16 months old and I was 7 months pregnant suffering from sharp back pain. At that time, I came up with some criteria for our camping eligibility: must be less than 7 months pregnant, must have immobile lap baby or walking baby (I wasn't keen on the idea of keeping a crawling baby out of danger at the campsite. I think that's why we didn't camp the summer I wasn't pregnant.), and must camp with other people (unless children are old enough to help out or at least be free from danger for a few minutes). That's it.
But this summer I was hit hard with the camping bug. I was hesitant to break my second rule, however, so to test the waters, we spent a day camping with some friends. This turned out to be loads of fun (minus, of course, some setbacks like getting the day started much later than planned and having a child fall and scream in alleged pain for an hour or two--yes, same child that fell at the grocery store).
First, it was a beautiful weekend. We began our adventure with a picnic when we arrived at the state park. We walked for an up-close view of the river then hit the creek. I've mentioned before that I love wading. This time was no exception, just different. With a baby strapped to you and a small child or two pulling on your hands, your sense of fallibility is a lot keener (or your sense of fall-ability, whatever you want to call that). Still, I loved pointing out the crawdads, minnows, clam shells, slippery moss-covered rocks, etc. just as I loved my dad pointing them out to me and my sister. And, of course, I loved the feel of the clear, cool water over my feet and up my to my knees. We walked, waded, and climbed until the creek joined the river then paused for snacks at the river's edge.
Several times this summer, my daughter and I have played "campfire" at the playground and have eaten imaginary s'mores, so I was looking forward to seeing her reaction to the real thing. After our wading trip and some time spent at the playground, we set up "camp" and prepared our fire. The kids loved playing in the tent, although, without being staked down it became a game to bounce around inside causing the tent to roll over. No matter.
We roasted hot dogs, marshmallows, instructed the kids in the art of building the perfect s'more, played around in the moonlight (gorgeous full moon), stargazed a bit and packed up. At the end of the day, I figured the only things we lacked in making this an actual camping trip was sleeping and eating breakfast, which I felt pretty confident we could handle. Wow, I had even broken rule number two.
Unfortunately, it's too late for us to squeeze in a camping trip this summer, but I'm going to plan early next year (Can someone hold me accountable to that?) and wholeheartedly recommend to anyone dragging their feet about family camping that you try a day camping adventure to get your feet wet (actual wading, optional).
In case you're wondering, here are the criteria I went with for choosing a park: accessible water for playing, picnic space, playground, fire pit, drive under 2 hours, no park fees, convenient bathrooms, space for free play and crawling. Additional criteria could be: stroller-accessible trails, fishing, swimming, canoeing, etc. So many options!
Happy belated camping!

P.S. Pardon me for being so wordy this week or thank me for the brief nap you may have taken while attempting to read my blog.

10 comments:

letters to elijah said...

What fun walking in the shallow water. I'm not much of a camper..but it sounds like you have fun.

Kristin said...

Your post brings back great childhood memories. thanks for sharing. I'm sure these moments your kids will always cherish. We did get to camp once this summer for a couple of days, and reading this makes me want to go again. My kids love it too.

Amy said...

I've enjoyed the wordiness this week. Different than your typical posts, but a nice look into the rest of your life.

I like my sister. :)

moomer said...

I like my daughters. And the wizard of oz. :)

Jill said...

We've just started camping with our four kids. On our first attempt it rained buckets the entire time. We wound up driving home soaking wet in our pajamas at 7am! The kids of course, thought it was great. We're going again this week.

Monkey's Mama said...

I'm happy to read a good camping story. I was hoping to get out there for the first time this year but our weekends filled up. Hopefully we'll plan ahead better next summer!

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