My maiden voyage into the woods

3081370243_59b64351de_zI spent my Saturday night in somewhat rustic quarters: a 2-man tent, shared with my 6-year-old son.

The occasion? Our first Cub Scout camp out. It was low key as these things go, in a state park about 40 minutes from our house. The option was there to bail, and there were flush toilets available at the camping site. The troop leaders had handled the food logistics, so all we really had to do was show up. My husband and younger two kids came for Saturday, then left for home around 7:30 p.m.

I’ve had some rough nights sleeping in tents. Indeed, the last time my husband and I used that tent — roughly 9 months before the 6-year-old was born — we had a few less-than-restful nights in Yellowstone. The temperature had dropped near freezing at night. I was worried about bears. I injured my feet hiking, a fiasco that ultimately led to my losing my two big toenails. Rumor has it my husband may snore.

But this time was fine. My 6-year-old conked out at 10pm and slept straight through to 7:30. He didn’t snore. I woke up a few times, but fewer times than I thought I would. The temperature landed at a relatively balmy 60 degrees — absolutely perfect for sleeping outside. And even better, when we woke up and put away the tent, I just had to haul it to the car, rather than carry it 8 miles in a backpack.

My son had a blast. Unfortunately, he may have enjoyed it too much, as now he’s scheduling our next camping trip, and asking if we can spend a week in the backyard in our tent. It was a nice night this Saturday, but it wasn’t that nice.

Have you ever gone camping with your kids?

Photo courtesy flickr user Rikx

14 thoughts on “My maiden voyage into the woods

  1. Wow, that sounds like an awesome first camping trip. I think I’ve slept outside *twice* in my entire life, and neither one involved a tent or real camping. And I wasn’t a fan 🙂

    However, we live in the PNW, where camping is required, and T is already asking when we’re going. The hubby says I have to do it at least once, so it’s looking like next summer…

    I’d totally camp out on the deck, though. Which makes me sad that I didn’t think about it before the weather got yucky!

    And J slept better on your camping trip than either of my girls sleeps at home, lately 🙂

  2. Sounds fun! Since DS was 3 (and my DH retired) we have camped regularly, but in a camping trailer, so basically, with all the comforts of home (except TV, which I insist on our NOT having there!). We “camp” about a month a year — 2 weeks at each of Christmas and summer and long weekends here and there, basically.

    I’m a sometime tent camper (though not an enthusiastic backpacker), and have tent camped once with DS, but it’s not my DH’s thing, so we’re pretty committed to the camper at this point.

      1. Ha! Erm, well, the obvious difference is that it’s portable. We like being places where we don’t have to get in the car to get outside/enjoying hiking/fishing/swimming, so the camper achieves that (once we’re at the destination). Not that that’s impossible with motels, but it’s more difficult with fewer options, in my experience. The camper also means we can bring the dogs along. Plus of course we have a complete kitchen (well, small fridge, 3 burner gas stove and small oven, microwave, coffee pot — close enough!), so we don’t have to deal with eating out. I mean, we enjoy eating out, but not every meal (or even most meals)!

        We go to campgrounds that have hookups, so that limits our “portability,” though it’s possible to “boondock” (camp without hookups), which obviously extends range (still restricted, obviously, by laws/regulations about access) and somewhat reduces comfort level.

  3. My 3 year old has heard other kids talk about camping at his daycare and would love for us to go. My idea of camping is a cabin with running water! Also the idea of camping with a 3 yo and 1 yo is exhausting. Thankfully this year is out since we live in Canada and the nights are freezing already.

    1. @Shelly – I would not attempt with a 1-year-old. I probably have readers who do (maybe we’ll hear from them?) but I’m a bit of a wimp on that front. We had the 4-year-old and 2-year-old go home in the evening and only the 6-year-old stayed overnight.

  4. I’ve gone tent camping when other people call the shots (when I was a Girl Scout as a child, and a few times in college with super-outdoorsy-type friends) but I couldn’t imagine planning it all out and going as a family. I suppose if my boys ever expressed interest, we’d consider it, hopefully not for a few years.

    1. @Ana – I planned out a few trips for my husband and me back in the day. Two people isn’t hard, especially if you have access to an REI. Freeze dried meals…add boiling water and you’re good! The chicken curry was pretty good. Oatmeal for breakfast with granola, etc.

  5. Better you than me!
    DC1 gets all his camping and outdoorsy stuff in when visiting Grandpa back in the midwest.
    Also boy scouts around here is scarily religious and intolerant.

  6. It is great that you are going camping with your kids. Camping is the chance to experience the real world of green leaves. It is time away from our normal, human constructed world. I am pleased to hear about your son’s great reaction. My wife and I don’t have kids, but we are camping next weekend with her parents and family. It will be a great time during a great time of year.

  7. We’ve camped with our kids, but at a campsite in a county park not far from a town, with pay showers (which we didn’t use) and flush toilets (which we did). We had fun, but I didn’t sleep all that well. My husband also occasionally camps out in the backyard with the kids. They love it, and I get awesome sleep on those nights!

    Pre-kids, my rule for camping was that I had to be out away from it all, otherwise, why bother? With two little kids, though, we prefer to stay closer to civilization, in case anything goes wrong. So I’m not a huge fan. It is a lot of hassle for not a lot of reward (for me). But the kids love it and my husband really wants to raise them to be campers… so I go along and try to adjust my expectations low enough that I have fun.

  8. This post is so timely. My husband was just commenting on how camping was a staple of his childhood, but he doesn’t see US camping as a family… mainly because it’s so much work that it’s not an actual vacation for the parents. If we have off, we want to relax in a hotel or vacation rental and not rough it out in a tent. That being said, I’m not opposed to camping and when the kids are older, I am totally open to doing it for a weekend here and there.

  9. We did a lot of camping with two kids when they were young. We live in Australia and it was a great, cheap way to tour around the country and see lots of places and learn about the history of our nation. Our kids absolutely loved it. The weather here is fairly good for camping most of the year except in the south of the country. One of the best things about camping we have found is that you meet so many interesting people from all over the world. One time we met a Canadian couple who owned a caravan park in Canada (maybe you call it a trailer park) but of course everything froze over in winter so then they would sail off on their boat and this time they had made it to Australia!! Another time, our kids cooked toast over an open fire with two brothers who had fought together in WW2. They had some interesting stories about growing up in the country in the 1920s and it was just so amazing to watch our kids, who were then about 8 and 6, listen to them. Such a life enriching experience they still recall even though they are now late teens. Love camping, although now I am getting older putting the tent up and down is becoming a chore. The camping equipment companies now make some Instant-Up tents which I think might be our next investment!

    1. @Narelle – our 2-man tent is surprisingly quick. I doubt it took more than 5 minutes up or down – which is lovely! I recall my parents’ tent being far more complicated.

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