Monday, June 20, 2011

Camping! Camping with children could be its own blog!

We went camping 3 times last year.  We have found that the more children we have, and the younger they are, the harder it is.  It is hard when you have 2 older children, a 3 year old, and a newborn to go camping.  The one I worry most about is the 3 year old!

To begin with there are several different types of camping!

  1. There is RV camping, you can make do this without too much trouble with children.  I am not really going to say much about RV camping, an RV can be your home away from home, you can have it mostly packed and be able to leave without too much trouble to you or your family.  I used to not consider this camping, but now I am tempted to get an RV!  
  2. There is KOA camping, or similar types, where you can get a cabin, have bathrooms close by, maybe even a pool.  As a child this was my favorite type of camping, and as a parent it is really nice!
  3. There is tent camping, if you have a tent you can camp pretty much anywhere, this is what I think is the most fun but also hard with children.
  4. And there is primitive camping where you make your own shelter, or bring a tent.  If you are lucky you can find spots where you can hike all your stuff in to your site.  It can be fun to live off of the land or follow the rules of the wilderness to only leave footprints and take only pictures.  These are the places where you need latrines, you find and sterilize your water, and enjoy beauty most people never get to see.  This kind of camping I have not attempted with kids, yet.   

Over this week I will post some differences of tent and cabin camping.  But let me tell you, after last year it will be a while before I go camping again.

First experience last year, we went camping in my grandparent's cabin off of the Wynoochee river, I was with my kids and we had fun.  We did kebabs for dinner.  We had skewers and marinated meat, vegetables, canned potatoes and cooked them over the fire on a rack.  We did banana boats for dessert, it was all yummy.  However wasps had taken up residence in that cabin, and we had to evacuate them before going to bed.  All you could hear in the cabin was bzzzz, and if you put your hand on the floor of the loft you could feel it vibrate.  This scared me!  We thought the spray that we sprayed on them worked, but in the morning they were still there and I did not want to get stung!  We left soon after breakfast.

Second experience, we went to my family reunion and set a tent up in my grandparent's orchard.  It was a very peaceful place to put our tent, except there was chickens, or let me be more exact, a rooster about 10-20 ft. away from our tent.  Stupid rooster kept cock a doodle dooing anytime anyone shined a light near it.  We were not the only people camping there, and little kids thought it was HILARIOUS to shine their flashlights at the rooster.  Not so much fun for us!  I wanted to have chicken soup for dinner the next night. 

Third experience, we went camping in the mountains as a church activity and my husband was in charge.  We had our tent, food, and clothing.  Our kids were SO excited!  We traveled about an hour and a 1/2 and found the campground, set up camp, our children found friends and were playing.  We made dinner and it started raining.  I mean the kind of rain that you get drenched walking from your driveway to your front door, kind of rain.  We had to tough it out, because my husband was in charge.  There was a pavilion that we ate under and everyone was huddled under.  We had to sit in the middle of the pavilion to avoid the rain.  It was kind of a fun, it definitely turned into a get to know you kind of night.  We watched most other families who had tents pack up and go home.  My husband needed to get something out of our tent in the middle of the impromptu togetherness, and he found that  it had blown over from the storm.  He set it back up, luckily nothing inside had gotten wet, and he was still confident we would be okay through the storm.  When he came back to the party he told me what happened but seemed to think the worst of the storm was over.  A couple of hours later, the rain seemed to have lessened a bit, so we thought it was a good time to go to bed.  Walking towards our tent we couldn't see our tent, it was GONE!  It had blown down and drifted away.  We found it basically in a wad in the wilderness.  This time we were not so lucky, things had gotten wet.  Luckily my children's sleeping bags were mostly untouched.  Our air mattress was soaked (yes I sleep on an air mattress, I was about 3 months pregnant at the time and I was not about to sleep on the ground).  When I say things were wet, I mean it was a miracle my children's sleeping bags were dry!  We used towels to try to dry up the ground.  We would soak up the water from about 1 square foot of tent take it to the door and ring it out and go back and try to soak up more water.  Every time we moved a bag we would find it in a pool of water.  Our bags seemed to be mostly water proof, so our things were okay.  It took us about an hour to get our tent dry enough that we were not afraid of putting our things on the floor.  We got the kids into bed and we tried to go to sleep.  My sleeping bag was wet, the air mattress was wet and I was freezing.  At about 3am I was shivering so bad I was pretty sure I had the beginning stages of hypothermia.  I went to my car and turned the heat on high and sat there for 1/2 an hour before I stopped shivering.  I let the car run for awhile after that before I really felt warm.  I refused to go back into the tent.  My tough days are behind me I am afraid, I didn't want to buck up, or tough it out, I wanted to go home.  By morning I felt too nauseated to eat much, the vitamin B supplement my doctor told me to take had been left at home by accident I did not want to be there, but I also was not looking forward to the drive home.  I was pretty sure it would not be a fun ride.  My kids had fun and they were fine, but I have not really wanted to go camping since then.  Of course that could have something to do with me being pregnant and then having a baby, but I'm sure I won't forget that camping trip anytime soon.

So reader beware, this is the person who is now giving tips and advice.  Although if you are not a rugged outdoor person, my tips may be just what you need!  I can look at my experiences camping as bonding moments with my family, building great memories and togetherness.  I think that is what camping is all about, leaving the tv, computer, and video games behind and learning to be a family without all the distractions.  I watched my kids build a fort on our last camping trip and that just wouldn't happen at my house in our backyard.  My kids were working together and having fun.  That was worth it.

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