Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We Took to the Woods...And Survived To Tell About It

Campsite prepared for the rain that never came

We took the kids camping for the first time this past weekend.  I grew up camping.  Hubby and I went camping as newlyweds.  I should be a pro at this camping thing.  Right?  WRONG!  I started packing Thursday morning.  I went online and found a packing list and printed it off because I didn't want to forget anything.  I started collecting all the junk we would need.  TONS of junk.  So much junk I didn't even know how we were going to get it all in the van and camper.

Hubby called me from work to see how packing was going and I almost started crying.  I had no idea it took so much STUFF to go camping with kids.  Air mattresses, sleeping bags, sheets, pillows, blankets, bath towels, beach towels, dish towels, pots, pans, cooking utensils, silverware, plates, cups, a coffee pot, hot pads, a cooking stove, a portable grill, gas for cooking, wash pans, and on and on and on and on until my head was about to explode!  And yes, we used every bit of the things we brought and I only forgot three things--the toaster, hot sauce, and grits--all the things Hubby specifically asked me to pack.  We shoved it into the camper and the back of the van.  I didn't think it was all going to fit, but a camper doubles as a great trailer.

Joy peeking out of  the camper

We left for the camp ground late Friday afternoon.  The second we got to camp the litany started--Can we go swimming?  Can we go fishing?  Can we go play at the playground?  Can we go play with our friends?  NO!  You have to help us set up the tent and the camper.  After a half hour of trying to direct three kids with ants in their pants, we sent them off to play at the playground with their friends.  We had a bit of help from a group of burly teen boys to get our camper situated on our site.  Then the previous owner of the camper we borrowed came over to show us how to get the camper set up correctly.  After about two hours of Hubby and I sweating and huffing and puffing, camp was set up and we were ready to join our friends around their campfire for s'mores.

At 10:00pm we put the kids to bed.  At 11:00pm they were still giggling.  At midnight Lizzy was still awake and went on her third bathroom run of the night.  She finally fell asleep after that.  All three kids were wide awake with the birds at 6:00am and talking up a storm, thus waking up mom and dad.

So we decided the best way to get our kids to sleep Saturday night was to wear them out.  We fished--Lizzy learned how to bait her own hook and between the three kids they went through twenty night crawlers and caught about thirty little bluegills and one turtle in two days, we went for walks in the woods and watched a work crew build a new bridge across the river, they swam and played in the sand, they played on the playground, they ran around with their friends, half the time I don't even know what they were doing or where they were, but they always came back when they were hungry.  By 9:00pm they were begging us to put them to bed.  Mission accomplished.

Hiking to the very tiny waterfall

Looking for fish at the waterfall

After dinner, I was innocently doing dishes at the picnic table when David comes walking down the road saying he brought me a present.  I'm used to David's presents so I knew it was something gross.  He walks up with a big snake wrapped around his arms!  He told me it was a water snake, but I could see that it was a garter snake.  But since he said it was a water snake, I felt compelled to warn him that he needed to be careful with water snakes since we do have one poisonous one in Michigan.  So he DROPPED. IT. AT. MY. FEET!!!!!  I screamed!  I jumped up onto the picnic table!  I shrieked and told him to pick it back up and get it out of my campsite!  The neighbors must have heard me ranting like a freak, because once he caught it again they asked him to bring it so they could see it.  Afterwards, he disposed of it far, far, very far away from me.

The snake--yeck!
Sunday we played some more.  We swam most of the afternoon.  For dinner  Hubby started a campfire because the kids really wanted to cook their hot dogs on a stick over the fire.  They gobbled down their dinner and ran off back to play with their friends while the adults sat around chatting until the sun went down and it was time for bed.

Chopping wood for the fire

Waiting for the fire to start

And now we have (a little) fire
Monday morning came and it was time to pack up.  The kids begged to stay another day.  Joy said that she wanted to stay there forever.  I told her that when she's a grown up, if she wants to live at a campground for the rest of her life, that's fine with me.  But I was going home to my CLEAN house, my SOFT bed, and my BUG-FREE shower.

 We had a lot of fun both with our kids and with our many friends who were also camping with us.  Hubby must have considered it a resounding success because the first thing he did once we got home was check Craigslist for a used camper.  We haven't found the right one yet, but we will.  We might even turn into a...gasp...camping family.  Stranger things have happened.

Looking cute on our hike

Joy was bored so Daddy suggested making a castle out of things she found on the ground

Lizzy collected 102 acorn hats--she counted them and guarded them from everyone


  1. If you do get your own camper, packing will be MUCH easier! You can keep it stocked with a coffee pot (I have an extra on, BTW), toaster, etc. etc. So glad you guys had a great time! The kids grow up fast, and pretty soon they won't want to go camping with old mom and dad--haha. So do it while you can.

  2. Haha! Want to reconsider joining our group trip with the camper you find on Craigslist? ;-) But not if your son brings any snakes within 100ft of my campsite...

    1. It sounds like a lot of fun, but too close to camp. Next year:)