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Posts Tagged ‘camping’

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Awake in the middle of the night on my squeaky air mattress
wrapped in the cocoon of my down sleeping bag.

It’s quiet, dark and still

except for

the soft snores of a boy and a man

 a baby’s cry

 squirrels launching pine cones from upper branches of the trees

the buzz of a lone mosquito

a car alarm

 whispers, hushes and sighs

and thoughts

­plenty of those.

This is my sixth post for the September – 21 Moments Writing Challenge.  Fifteen more to go! 

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Last week, we went on our first family camping trip. We chose Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on BC’s sunshine coast because friends were also going and told us which campsite to book. And so it was that we traded in our lightweight backpacker tent, thermorests and camping stove for a roomy six-man tent, a deluxe, foot-high double air mattress and double-burner coleman stove. And that was just a start. Soon we added a monster cooler and a small bbq. Everyday that the trip neared, we added more stuff: beach towels, beach chairs, sunhats, propane canister. We now have a second home.

Our home away from home.

Here are a few camping highs and lows.

Highs

The weather was perfect. Clear sunny skies, crisp in the morning, hot in the day, and cool enough at night to enjoy the warmth and crackle of a communal campfire.

Weather like this demands a suitable hat.

The beach. The sandy waterfront was perfect for toddlers, and the campsite was full of young families.

Hours of entertainment.

Friends. Camping with friends meant Theo has kids to play with day and night. One night, he ran after a group of kids playing his harmonica like a roving musician.

Storytime!

Walking trails. We went on a group walk down a creekbed out to an estuary where the kids played happily in the tidal pools.

Look! A crab!

Food delivery. Mark bumped into a group of former students who insisted on bringing us skewers and fresh crab for dinner!

Only one person asked us where Theo was from: A German tourist at the beach asked Mark if Theo was ours or if he was adopted and where he came from. No one else said a thing! Score one for Canadians.

Close to groceries and gelato: The campsite was a few kilometers from an Extra Foods and a wonderful gelato store.

Mesmerized by gelato.

Lows

Sleep. I knew sleep would be an issue so after the first hellish night, where Theo screamed himself to sleep and then woke up in the middle of the night terrified. We quickly changed out strategy by going to bed together at around 9:30-10, and co-sleeping. We had small bottles of milk on hand for midnight wakeups to keep him as calm and quiet as possible. We also put him down for naps from 1 to 3 daily when the campsite was at its quietest, and that became our own quiet time.

Konkadonk.

Noise: Campgrounds are noisy places especially on weekends. No one goes to bed before ten, and it’s useless to try. Kids are shrieking, riding their bikes top speed around the campsite or playing games in the central field until the sun goes down and then some. Showers and bathrooms are packed, and the lone bathroom outlet is a glorified iphone recharger.

What no walls? I had visions of taking my time cooking delicious camping meals like blueberry pancakes, bacon and cowboy coffee but soon realized that Theo saw the freedom of a wall-less, gateless environment as license to run wherever he wanted whenever he wanted. I spent much of the time chasing him down the camping road or removing him from other people’s campsites. He had a blast, and I got a heckuva workout.

Learnings

Overall, I’m glad we went. Theo had the time of his life; although, it was a little challenging from our end. I would not recommend going with a child under the age of  two (most of the midnight screaming came from babies), and I think three is the best age to start camping. If Theo could ride a bike, talk, swim, and know to look before running into the road, things would have been much easier. If possible avoid weekends, be prepared for late nights, make meals simple, bring lots of clothes for your toddler, and enjoy!

Have you been camping with your toddler(s)? How did it go? 

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