And it went pretty well.
Cause it could have been a disaster. And I'm so thrilled that it wasn't.
I love camping, which is kinda weird because I hate bugs and heat and humidity and sun and more bugs. And although I'm a seasoned Girl Scout (Gold Award recipient here), we didn't camp much outside of summer camp in my troop. So I've never really had a true tent camping experience where I was responsible for everything (supplies, meals, entertainment, etc.), but I really wanted to try.
For our first camping trip as a family I made the decision to go somewhere close to home (in case it was a disaster and we needed to cut our losses and come home). We selected one of the state parks close to home. Unfortunately I failed to consider the impact a motocross track in this park would have on our experience. Dirt bikes and ATVs everywhere. Constant noisy engines. Lesson learned, we won't be going back there again. But other than the noisy neighbors, it was a good weekend, hot, but not too awful and there wasn't any rain.
I was most worried about cooking since I haven't cooked on a fire for years and I don't recall being that good at it back then either. Plus, I don't eat meat and my husband and child do, so that always makes meals a little harder to begin with... something I'm used too, but still a challenge. I downloaded an e-book called The Family Camping Handbook from Kitchen Stewardship. It was a good book and had some very helpful tips and ideas. I'd say it helped me feel more prepared and less anxious. It was a rocky start, but most of our meals turned out ok.
The Family Camping Handbook recommended posting your meal plans at the campsite, so I stuck mine to the cooler, which would have been ok, but the packing tape didn't stick it promptly fell off as soon as we got to the campsite. We'll do better next time.
Skillz. I haz them.
We spent 2 nights in motocross hell, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday morning. There was a youth fishing activity setup on Saturday morning to celebrate national Kids to Parks Day (yeah, that's a day apparently). Michael actually caught the first fish of the day (which was also the biggest fish), so he won some prizes. This was his first fishing trip, so I'm really glad it was such a positive experience.
So cute! Michael looks like he actually knows what he's doing.
Catching a fish was very exciting for everyone. 11.5 inches, that's my boy!
Sup. Just chilling with my prizes and this sweet Participant ribbon. Yeah, I rock these Crocs.
There were some tense times, but mostly, I was really thrilled with how well everything went. We brought a little shovel so that Michael could dig little holes to keep himself occupied. I also learned that my kid LOVES bugs. Rollie-pollies are his favorites, but worms are a close second. He entertained himself for hours looking for bugs. There was also a playground close by, so that was another favorite activity. We also brought sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and books and some rainy day stuff (just in case).
Heritage Iron, excellent reading material for tractor obsessed 3 year olds (and 33 year olds).
Yup, that's a bug, please keep it over there, away from me.
Camping makes me feel good. Being outside makes me feel good. Having less clutter around helps my mental state. I was less frustrated with Michael... partially because he was being so cool and keeping himself entertained but also because parenting was more equally split between my husband and I (my husband tends to plop down with the computer when he gets home from work and this creates tension in our house, so a computer-free weekend was just what the dr. ordered).
We also learned some things about camping together and we can use that for our next excursion. Here are some of the lessons learned from the weekend:
-Make sure there isn't a motocross track at the campground.
-Level the camp stove before cooking on it! Tin foil shims work well.
-Be picky about firewood. The park sold us fairly green wood that was nearly impossible to burn.
-Smaller meals, more snacks.
-Keep and empty bottle on site for Michael to pee in if needed.
-Lots of drinks to keep Michael going since dehydration happens easily and kids don't know to tell you they are starting to feel dehydrated.
-Tent fan! Bring an extra tarp to make your own shade too.
-Keep the schedule light. Think "island time".
We plan on camping some more this summer. Camping might not always be this pleasant. Trips with rain, heat, and forgotten supplies are going to happen, but I think the overall experience that camping can bring is worth the risk. Camping also provides a cheap vacation, and here in the Ozarks, we are rich in outdoor wonders so it's especially easy to take advantage of that. My family never camped and I've always wanted to camp at several of our national parks and this is helping to get us there. But most importantly, I really want to impart a love of nature on Michael. Aside from raising a generally good kid, raising a kid that loves and cares about his environment is my personal goal as a mother. I'm going to need some more sun screen and bug spray.