Well, I did it. I finally took my kids tent camping!
Camping in the shoulder season can be a challenge because of the weather but with a trailer, most of those issues are overcome. We had such a lovely time last year on Easter long weekend that we planned on doing it again this year until a last-minute business trip for my husband foiled our plans. Although disappointed that daddy had to leave, the kids and I had a nice spring break with Grandma and Grandpa who were visiting from Alberta.
Then the weather just kept getting better and better. The long weekend approached and I was bummed that we couldn’t spend it camping. Then I had a crazy idea. Why don’t we try tenting? The kids are 5 & 7; well past the age of diaper disasters & midnight wakings. They LOVE camping and are always excited to play with the tent in the back yard. And given that our spot of choice was less than an hour’s drive from our home, we could easily pick up and come home.
So after discussing it with our visitors who decided to hold down the fort while we adventured for a few days, we started packing. Gathering our gear was a process in itself as we had to scout out items from the trailer, the garage, the shed and the basement. Restocking the old first aid kit with new ibuprofen (since the bottle we had expired in 2007) and replacing the peroxide (which had evaporated) reminded me that I hadn’t tried tenting since 2004.
The first thing you need is a great tent. (Well, nice weather helps too. If there had been rain in the forecast, or cooler weather, I simply wouldn’t have gone and yes I am a wuss.) We went for 2 nights and used 2 different tents. The first night we used a cheap, nylon tent which I grabbed because it was slightly larger than our other tent. Big mistake. That tent does not breathe so there was significant condensation inside in the morning, making us all cool and damp. Ironically it was quite windy in the night and you could feel a draft in the tent which didn’t help us feel any warmer.
The second night I set up our 4-season MEC tent. When my husband bought it many years ago I balked at the price, however, it has repeatedly proven itself to be worth every penny. Through torrential rain, wind, and snow; this tent is cosy. The large fly creates a small vestibule for shoes and gear and whisks away the condensation that caused us trouble the night before. We slept much better the second night.
The other thing that makes tenting much more comfortable is an air mattress. Did I mention I am a giant wuss? Yes I have slept on a foamy; I don’t like it. But with 2 kids and one mom, a double air mattress can get rather squishy. My son likes his space so the first morning we woke up to find he’d rolled off the mattress onto a nest of our backpacks. The second night I tried out sleeping head to feet in between them and that worked beautifully.
We kept food pretty simple since we only had one small cooler and one adult to haul it. Some cereal (camping is when I buy them the bad sugary cereal that is banned at home), bacon, hot dogs, cheese and crackers for breakfast & lunch, then for dinner, well, we went out for dinner both nights. While I am aware that eating in a restaurant when you’re camping takes something away from the outdoor experience, my goal was to make it a relaxing adventure for the 3 of us and the promise of sushi is enough to elicit angelic behavior from my kids.
Activities include looking for baby crab, climbing on the driftwood, playing in the muddy lagoon bottom when the tide went out, climbing the hills within the campground and constantly asking if it was time to light the fire for roasting marshmallows. We all were beat by the end of the day, sunswept and windblown. It was fabulous!
Now that we’ve done it once, we are looking forward to doing it again. Not that we are giving up our trailer any time soon, but we now have another world of outdoor options reopened to us.
Do you like to go camping with the kids? What do you do to make it as easy as possible?