Monday, March 16, 2015

We Went Tent Camping with a 2 Year Old... and Survived!

So after months of cajoling, I finally got (forced) my husband to agree to go camping with me and our two year old.  Unfortunately, the state park we wanted to go to was flooded out so we made a last minute call to the first close campground that Google found and they had a site available!  Actually - they had all their "sites" available since I'm pretty sure no one actually goes to this place to camp on purpose but we'll get to that in a moment.

The Brave Campers

We pulled all of our camping stuff out of the shed then ran around to a few stores including Dick's Sporting Goods with a disgruntled toddler who proclaimed "I don't want any Dicks!!!" while we carried him in.  Ahem.  Yeah, that's not at all embarrassing.  After letting him pull as many flashlights off the shelf as he wanted while we found a tarp and a grate for cooking over the fire, he calmed down, we checked out, and were all set for our trip.

We got on the road and after a quick hour and fifteen minutes we found ourselves at Lizard Creek Campground.  We were greeted by the owner, who we knew immediately was the "jolly old man with the white hair and potbelly" from the one review on Yelp I read before we headed out that way.  Usually I do a lot more research on these types of things but this was plan B and I didn't want to give my husband any excuse to back out so I made the executive decision to book the place without checking into it too much.  And it worked out..... mostly.

Jolly old, potbellied man took us over to our campsite, which was about 20 yards from the row of RV's parked ten across who would be our only neighbors that night.  It wasn't really roughing it given we were under the orange glow of the RV camp lights, but it was roughing it enough that it was filled with perils for a two year old.

Welcome to Toddler Death Island...  I mean - our campsite.  And really it wasn't a Death Island, as much as it was a Death Peninsula. 

Toddler Death Peninsula

We were surrounded on three sides by water - deep river water (bayou?) on two sides and a creepy creature filled swamp on the third.  And of course the RV's to our back.  We definitely had a moment where we questioned whether this was still a good idea.  Not to disparage, but the whole thing had a bit of a back woods feel that us city folk weren't quite ready for.  We were ready for nature and the woods but not like the BACK WOODS, ya know?

Honestly though, we had a blast with it being only psuedo-primitive camping.  It was probably a good first step into camping with our son without actually being too far from some sort of civilization.  We did a pretty good job of packing (we have a camping tupperware we created years ago that provides most of the basics) but we forgot beer for the adults so it was nice for my husband to be able to run down to the mini-mart and get a six pack for after FrenchFry went to sleep.  It was a good test run and we are going to try to get back out in the next couple of weeks for a full weekend a little farther away.  We definitely have a few lessons learned under our belt for the next trip.

A few things we will do a little differently next time:

1. Do more research!

Distracting FrenchFry while putting up the tent so he wouldn't jump into the body of water directly behind him.

Next time I will definitely ask if our camp site will be on Toddler Death Island or Peninsula or Isle... or any other setting that is dangerously close to waterways, nuclear waste dump sites or orange-glowing RV Parks.

2.  Inventory the camping gear before the day of the trip.

Bacon and eggs took a bit longer without any cookware so FrenchFry enjoyed some cereal while we worked through that.

We were definitely missing some of the essentials and even more of the extra conveniences we would have liked to have had.  We were missing cookware and utentsils though we made due with plastic cutlery and aluminum foil.  I meant to bring extra pants for FrenchFry but somehow they didn't make it into the bag.  He did of course make it into the big puddle of mud TWICE requiring us to scramble and find an emergency pair of pants in the bottom of the diaper bag (only one size too small).

I also thought of things we should have had with us like some Benadryl since we don't know what, if any, types of allergies FrenchFry may develop and wouldn't want to be out in the woods without it.

3. Bring more toys/activities.

FrenchFry giving us a reprieve from chasing him from dangers by reading Pout Pout Fish in the tent.

 FrenchFry was pretty entertained by running around (scaring the crap out of us) and helping us collect sticks for firewood, but there were a few moments where it would have been good to have a more reliable source of entertainment for him.  We were also only gone for less than 24 hours so next time on a longer trip we will likely need more than just a few books and his harmonica to get through.

And the thing that we did right:

1.  We made the best of it!

Woke up like this - in a tent.  Take that Beyonce!

In spite of the campground not being exactly what we expected or having all the right gear with us, we had a blast.  We remembered how to put up our tent with getting into an argument (marriage WIN), we taught FrenchFry how to swing on a big kid swing for the first time, we looked at the stars while we held hands with FrenchFry on my lap and we ate S'mores.  What more could you ask for?

FrenchFry and Momma by the campfire.

Have you taken your kids camping?  How young were they when they first stayed in a tent?

Any other advice for our next trip to the woods?  Share your comments below.

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1 comment:

  1. You are so adventurous! And funny! There are so many great one-liners here!