We don’t camp with kids often, but this year we did, and what a pleasure!
We spent four perfect days on the beach. We had sunshine, more stars than you can imagine, beautiful sunsets, great food and amazing S’more filled campfires. There were crafts, and reading and fishing. There were frogs to catch and bugs to watch.
So, what kid doesn’t like a beach?
The swimming area was perfect for all ages and the sand offered endless possibilities. At one point the five-year-old ran past me with a bucket of sand, she yelled “this is the best idea ever”.
There were 7 people under 12 and 8 adults (we had two sites). The age range on the trip was 71 years. How cool is that?
What was great was enjoying their sense of wonder and openness to all the new experiences; it was like seeing camping through their eyes. For example, on the way home it started raining just before the final takeout. The 12-year-old in the group, on her first canoe camping trip said, with a sense of excitement in her voice, “Wow, this is another experience.” To us old folks, we were thinking, let’s hurry to the portage before all our stuff gets wet, is that thunder in the distance, etc.etc. Her enthusiasm helped shift our perspective.
The 10-year-old in the group, like me, needs lots of sleep. She could not manage to stay up late with the others to look at the stars. She asked her Nana to wake her up one night, but could not manage to get out of the tent. So, on the last night, determined to see the stars everyone had been talking about, she forced herself to stay up late, fueled by chocolate and marshmallows.
Her excitement was contagious. She was a bit surprised at just how dark it was and at first she was a bit unsure about the owl hooting across the lake. However, she was filled with joy to see the Big Dipper and a shooting star. She learned how to use the Big Dipper to find the North Star and the Little Dipper. She marveled at the Milky Way, and became excited when she saw fireflies. She also learned about sheet lightening. Eventually she had to crawl into the tent, but the time I spent on the beach with her will stay with me forever. I hope the memory stays with her too.
We had lots of fire ants to deal with on the sites, but they seem to bite the adults more than the kids; we assumed it was because we were wearing Keens which trapped the ants. There was only one bad kid experience. The 3-year-old had her feet swarmed, she couldn’t run because,apparently, kids freeze when they panic. Someone had to run over and scoop her up. Before going on this trip we had read a blog post about the ants on the beach sites on Bottle Lake, so we were not surprised, apparently fire ants like sand.
Three of the kids on the trip had never slept in a tent before and their parents were thrilled to find that they slept later than they did at home. Three mornings of sleeping in until 8:30. Their new blackout tent gets two thumbs up. They all fell asleep in the tent, which meant their parents could sit by the campfire.
We are already planning next years “kids trip”.