The Great Camping Challenge

It seems that every time we go camping, we return home swearing never to do it again — for a few years, at least. Then another opportunity arises and we agree once again, in the hopes that something will have changed. Inevitably we return, wondering why we put ourselves through such madness simply for the sake of sleeping outside. Okay, it’s not actually thatbad! The camping itself is great. The challenge I refer to is entirely kid-related.

He is NOT interested in sleeping.

Take this past weekend, for example. We joined our church’s camping trip at a nearby provincial park and, wisely, opted for a single night. The people were great, the setting beautiful, the weather perfect, but we returned home after less than 24 hours of being away feeling utterly exhausted. All four of us collapsed for a two-hour nap and went to bed early last night, once we’d tackled the mountain of cleaning and putting away that was required.

Keeping track of the little guy is not easy. He’s constantly on the move, incessantly exploring, inexhaustibly curious, irritatingly stubborn. With the campsite surrounded on all sides by poison ivy, I was vigilant in trying to keep him on the paths, but there was not much I could do when his ball went bouncing into the carpet of three-leaved plants. I felt like I barely ate anything, because I was so busy trying to get food into the kids that there was no opportunity to put it into my own belly. Tents are not conducive to sleeping, either, especially when you’ve got two kids to put to sleep at the same time.

Experiences like this, though, are crucial for our kids’ psychological formation and well-being, and I’m more convinced of that than ever after reading Richard Louv’s amazing book, “Last Child in the Woods” (see my review here). That’s why we’ll continue to plug away at it, pushing through those endless hours of packing, organizing, chasing, overseeing, guiding, and cleaning up, so that our kids will become comfortable in nature and grow to love camping.

Thank goodness for little friends – the blessing of group camping!

Someday, though, I hope to be able to sit in a chair by a campfire and actually read my book without interruption! At least my battery-operated milk frother allows me to have my morning latté, keeping me sane…

Cold morning, hot latté, cozy baby
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8 thoughts on “The Great Camping Challenge

  1. Camping + infants = NO in my books, but I know lots that have done it and continue to do it. My line was always that they MUST be out of diapers. Hubby grew up camping, and I grew up with a mom that insisted camping meant a fully stocked rental trailer compete with power and running water and we only went a few times.

    Last year P&K went with their grandparents for 3 nights to camp in a trailer and loved it. This year, despite W still being diapered, hubby and I will go too. We’re not roughing it by any means (we’ve rented a cabin complete with running water and a small fridge), but its a start, and I’m looking forward to being surrounded in nature and no electronics!

    When the kids are older (and can be responsible enough not to run off) we’ll get back to basics and actually rough-it. But for now… this is a suitable compromise.

    1. A cabin with running water and fridge would definitely make it a lot easier! And parents might as well make that compromise if it’s going to get them out and about to enjoy nature. My fear, though, would be never wanting to go back to truly roughing it! Despite having grown up camping, I’m not its biggest fan, I’m ashamed to admit… I like the comforts that a house/cottage has to offer.

  2. It’ll get easier!!! I started taking mine young as well and had very similar experiences/feelings toward the whole idea of camping. Now at the ages of 6 & 4 camping is so much better. There’s still stress but less than before plus since we’ve gone so much they are used to the whole process of things. They wash their own dishes in a bucket and can even help set up the tent! It’s all worth the hair pulling trips when they were little.

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