Yes, CAMP. As in real camping.
I know this is hard to believe folks. Me, the person who hates pretty much roughing it in any way shape and form - went camping. At the risk of sounding pretentious and high maintenance - I will clarify by saying I'm adaptable and flexible in pretty much every way - except when you throw me outside to be one with nature.
Like, I can adapt to outside as long as I have wi-fi, bug spray and drinks.
My best friend's family camps every year at a nearby beach. They have a camper - and a camp spot right near the water. They invited me and my kids up for 2 nights.
Normally, I'd run for the hills after this type of invite. But my friend assured me that the camper had air conditioning, a shower and a bed. BOOM. Done. I was sold. Although I didn't promise 2 nights - I promised one night because I have commitment issues with camping.
I've always been one of those mothers that wanted to give my children that nature experience. I think camping is great for kids - the experience of being unplugged and close to nature is good for any soul - young or old. But our generation of kids are especially at risk for "Nature Deficit Disorder."
"Studies show when kids play in a natural play-scape they are far more likely to invent their own games, says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. I mean this is what our i-everything obsessed kids are missing folks. Good 'ol fashioned OUTSIDE PLAY.
I give my children nature experiences- but usually in much smaller doses. A day at the zoo, a few hours at the park or a 2 hour stint at the local nature center. Do those count??!!
Dammit, if I am going to be engaging in nature activities every day for several days in a row- I prefer to lay my head in a pimped out place at the end of the day - ya hurrrrddd me?! Not a fucking tent.
And I think I share the same view of my fellow non-campers around the world - why would someone want to spend their hard earned money and energy - to live like a homeless person???
Either way, I had a great attitude going into the camping trip because I wasn't in the middle of the woods, in a tent - exposed to all of nature's elements - namely - animals, bugs and weather.
In the days leading up to the camping trip - I was prepping. Operation - KEEP BOREDOM AT BAY. Not to say that camping is boring - but you know how kids are. Always bitching about being bored.
I like staying on theme - so check out these awesome nature kits -here. This is a low-tech way for kids to play in nature.
We also had to make sure my daughters were on trend with the camp style - so we bought a safari hat. This is like the Peg Bundy camping hat. Gotta love animal print.
The whole goal was to make them feel like Dora the Fucking Explorer so if they acted a fool when we were camping - and were ungrateful, annoying assholes - I'd have all of these wonderful activities to distract them.
Other preparations included, buying bubbles, organic bug spray, a ring toss, a puzzle and their favorite easy foods.
Load up the car, and hit the road! We pulled into the Ta-Ga-Soke Campgrounds on a perfectly sunny day.
My friend pointed out the bathrooms, shower, playgrounds, and lastly her parent's camp.
If I were to choose a camp spot - I would've picked this exact one. A nice plot of rolling green grass that backs right up to a creek that flows out to Oneida Lake. The campgrounds were beautifully decorated with great yard accessories, picnic tables, flowers and a swing facing the water. I mean, if you're going to go camping, this IS how you do it. Hardly the homeless way of life.
After getting acquainted with the campgrounds - we took a dip! The girls loved swimming in the creek.
They also picked up a pet worm and put him in a nature cage of sorts. They named him Squirmy. And while Squirmy did indeed die of being baked in the hot sun with no air - he will be remembered. RIP Squirmy. The kids also picked up flower specimens, chased butterflies and tried to catch fish in a net. Which is like - camp nirvana for a parent. Ahhhh, go me, kids are now one with nature. Mission Accomplished.
After swimming, we went for ice cream in the nearby beach town, played arcade games and took a bunch of pics in a 1970's photo booth. Literally - I think the photo booths were made in 1970. We headed back to camp around dinner time.
Before stuffing our faces - we went swimming again. That's the beauty of camp - you can take a dip while dinner is cooking on a nearby fire.
And what camp night would be complete without the all important, campfire treat of s'mores? My kids were s'mores first timers - so I was waiting to see how they'd react to the gooey-goodness. Older one loved it - as seen here. Little one only like the graham crackers.
The bugs ate me and the kids alive - so the whole s'mores experience lasted maybe 30 minutes.
Before bed, I insisted the kids rinse off the lake water, sunscreen and bug spray they accumulated on their skin. If you are new to camper shower etiquette, let me school you. It's similar to military showers. Only run the water when you gotta rinse.
Our hostesses gave us the master bedroom - which included a large king bed, and privacy. Extremely nice. And a good move - because if my kids woke up at 6AM with the rest of the crew - they'd be monsters for the WHOLE day. My kids are sleepers- they wake up around 9AM.
CAMP DAY 2:
We had a wonderful hot breakfast - with BACON and fresh coffee. Like seriously, camping in a camper must be the Ritz Carlton version of camping. Certainly, a far cry from oatmeal over a campfire - or whatever people do when they camp in tents. I prefer to remain ignorant to that type of camping.
We did a little swimming - then it was time to go - we had some other obligations. And although an overall awesome experience - turns out - I can't sleep at camp. No one knows this - except maybe my hostesses now and my husband - but small spaces do indeed freak me out. Like - they terrify me. I am a nervous wreck - filled with anxiety. Not to mention - I had an elbow or a leg slap me in the face every other hour throughout the night. My little one is a wiggle worm. So basically, I got zero sleep. And me with sleep - bitchy. Me without sleep - MONSTER BITCH. If I coulda slept - I coulda camped.
It was bittersweet pulling out of the campgrounds to return to "normal" life. Camp life - although only for 24 hours - suited us. The closeness to nature is soothing, and truly good for the soul.
And lastly, I want to leave some safety tips to keep in mind if you're planning a camping trip this summer - because I am slightly obsessed with safety - to the point of it being an unhealthy obsession.
So here are tips from Real Simple Magazine.
- Pack a good first aid kit—you can buy one or assemble your own, along with any medications you or your family may need.
-As soon as you drop your gear, have everyone walk around the site together. Establish strict rules and safety boundaries. Use easily identifiable landmarks, such as fallen trees, to mark any areas that are out of bounds.
-Point out possible dangers like poison ivy and remind kids not to feed or touch wild animals and to watch where they put their feet and hands.
-Review proper fire safety: Children should keep a good distance from the pit to avoid tripping into it, and they should never put anything into the fire without adult supervision.
-Give every child a whistle to wear around his or her neck. If kids get separated they should find the nearest tree, sit down, and blow the whistle three times. Adults should return the call with one whistle to let the child know they are on their way.
-Wear long pants tucked into socks during tick season.
And lastly - review fire safety inside the camper. This is just my own fear of fire speaking - but you may find it useful. Make sure you know where every fire extinguisher in the camper is located. Make sure you know how to open every door and window in the camper. Every camper is different - and you have to know how each latch works - so if there is gawd forbid a fire, and you're panicking - you'll know what to do.
Share with all your camp bound folks - and for fucks sakes - camp in fucking camper!