'How was your camp trip?’ I was asked by many of the parents during school drop off. Everyone had been a little intrigued by my excitement about camping with three young children in a small tent in October.
‘Wonderful if you go into it with zero expectations of sleep,’ was always my first response, as I yawned and a took a large gulp of strong tea. Quickly followed by, ‘But we did have such a lovely time’.
Camping is something we’ve really enjoyed as a little family. We took our first trip in the summer last year when Indi was just 3 months old (we like to start them early). But an early-October camp with friends in Canada…? At best this was being optimistic, at worst a terrible idea which would end up in a carload of wet, frozen sleeping bags and packing up shop in the middle of the night. The October conditions at Sand Banks Park were one element myself and a couple of girlfriends failed to fully consider in our haste to book adjoining tent plots, each feeling a tiny bit anxious about informing our husbands of our plans.
Our last camping trip for 2016
To children camping is idyllic, hours of free time to explore, no schedules or routines to follow, collecting firewood and making fires, in a land of giant trees and forest creatures. Snuggling in their warm cozy sleeping bag at night and savouring ‘special’ foods reserved for camp trips only, like marshmallows, chocolate milk and baked beans.
Me - ‘Isla and Theo, what were your favourite things about our weekend away?’
Isla - ‘Climbing up the big sand dunes, finding treasures on the beach, eating hot marshmallows next to the fire.’
Theo - ‘Shining our torches into the trees looking for owls. Playing with our friends. Running down the big sand dunes and eating four marshmallows’.
In truth they loved every second.
For adults, camping’s all the above. A true tonic to our busy city lives, the fresh sweet air, the natural beauty as Fall arrives and paints a beautiful backdrop. The kids playing so happily miles away from TV and toys. Cool evenings close to a fire under a canopy of stars, roasting marshmallows and drinking mulled wine with good friends.
But the other reality is camping is an extraordinary amount of work. The planning and packing, the set up, not to mention the sleeplessness followed by a desperate attempt to pack up wet and dirty camp gear which after two nights has miraculously doubled in volume. Wrestling muddy, dew-soaked groundsheets, tent and rainfly into their minute bags is few laughs.
What are the words every parent dreads the most when on a camp trip?
For me it’s ‘Mummy…… Mummy…… Mummy I need a wee,’ said in a desperate voice indicating mere seconds to spare to get your little person outside before there’s an in-tent disaster, at 3 am when it’s two degrees outside. Requiring you to extricate yourself from your warm sleeping bag, locate shoes, remove three layers of kids clothing, encourage small child their help is actually required...and all this in the pitch dark (because of course the bloody torch has disappeared).
I wrote this post in an un-showered exhausted state, serenaded by the hum of my machine grinding its way through the first of eight loads of laundry, surrounded by a chaos of piles of wet, smoke-infused camp gear. I wanted to capture the funny moments. Some haha funny, but many of the if-you-don’t-laugh-you-might-cry moments.
Like it being so painfully cold at 6 am - all kids awake and raring to start the day - trying to wash off last night’s welded-on ketchup (with red raw cold hands) from bowls so the kiddies will have something to eat their breakfast out of.
Or one of our friends sitting in the camp laundry at 10 pm tumble drying their kid’s wet sleeping bag (accidents happen when kids wake up disorientated in dark tents).
In truth, all things considered, it was a wonderful weekend. Sunny weather, adventurous friends and the great outdoors.
Though we will definitely be planning ALL future camp trips from June-September.
Would love to hear your funny camping with kiddies stories.
Thanks for popping in.