First, wait to go until you are so desperate for good weather that temperatures of almost 100 degrees with almost 100% humidity sound positively palatable.
Originally we'd scheduled our first trip for the season back on Amber's birthday. But it was super chilly and damp, so we waited. And after that we reserved spots for our second camp out Memorial Day weekend. But it rained and rained so we camped in the living room instead.
|Yay! Sleeping in the tent in the living room!|
|Waiting for s'mores to cook in the microwave.|
|Urban camping at its finest.|
Of course, you'll want to leave in at least a 30% possibility of thunderstorms, because you'll totally want to have your rain fly over the tent, sealing off any possible hopes of ventilation.
Second, double-check everything on your camping list. Twice. Except for the food. Because you'll feel so much more spontaneous if you arrive at camp only to realize you left your carefully prepared, nutritious AND delicious, foil-wrapped meals in the fridge. Don't worry: a friendly park-service employee will then be able to point you to a (relatively) nearby gas station where you'll be able to find over-priced hot dogs and nacho cheese dip to bring back to the campsite for your waiting brood. If you're lucky, you might even manage to accidentally fling one of those hot dogs (that your child is patiently waiting for) deep into the underbrush of the forest while trying to get it off the roasting stick. Memory made.
|Distractions like forgetting to pack dinner may even delay setting up camp until you get to use flashlights while doing so: total perk for the kids!|
|S'mores for camping Katie-style: all graham cracker, no marshmallow.|
|Don't worry, the hissing sound of water-logged logs will add atmosphere to things like roasting marshmallows.|
After that, reflect on how awesome it is that your bug spray is apparently water soluble and seems to be melting off of you along with the puddles of sweat. You were feeling guilty about using something with 40% DEET on kids anyway, right? This way the exposure is at least temporary. Besides, it's important to spend at least a little time on a lower rung of the food chain. Circle of life and all that. You're welcome, Mosquitoes. Sing a few songs, read a scripture, tell a story, play with Dad's green stargazing laser, marvel at the ravenous herd of chipmunks that seems to be closing in on you, watch the mosquito bite on your daughter's forehead start swelling to the size of a golf ball, and then
|Trying on Daddy's hat during "Family Camping Evening."|
|Stories in the tent!!|
With the night safely past, your next step is to begin rationalizing reasons for the baby's fitful sleeping. He wasn't at home. Being outside is hard on a little body. It was too warm for him. There were funny noises. Get creative. Assume all is well and shovel him full of oatmeal and bananas for breakfast: you don't want him to be hungry with so many fun things planned for the day!
|Robyn writing out a storyboard for Three Little Pigs. (Matthew kept interrupting my attempt to tell the story in the tent and Robyn decided the next morning to prepare in case she were called on to tell the story next time. I love her!!)|
Like going for a nature hike!
|Look: Nature! (We actually saw this cool turtle while driving away from the nature trail, and I mostly just took a picture out the car window and then passed the camera around to the kids to look at, but, still: nature!)|
First, forget to reapply insect repellent. Unintentionally walk through a few giant swarms of bugs. Soon everyone will start to feel paranoid and begin swatting at phantom insects.
Second, carry the over-tired, over-fed baby on your shoulders. This way, when he starts to vomit massive chunks of partially digested bananas and oatmeal it will all land on your head, successfully truncating the trek while avoiding leaving a nasty mess behind on the trail. If you are blessed with a thoughtful, helpful, husband like I am, your sweetheart may even remind you of all the reasons you married him by rubbing the regurgitated gunk further into your scalp using your ponytail ("it doesn't look so bad now!") and then kindly offering you his hat to hide what couldn't be rubbed in.
With the obligatory nature hike now out of the way, refer back to an earlier step: start rationalizing. The baby isn't actually sick. He just got jostled too much on a full tummy. He seems so happy now! Look at him smile! And there's still the playground and the beach on Lake Ontario you really shouldn't miss. Snuggle him affectionately and move onto the next activity. In our case, the amazing playground area.
|Robyn communicating cross-playground using one of the walkie-talkies Bryan received as a reward for working five years at his company.|
|Going for a spin on this updated-version of the old playground-goodie merry-go-round.|
|Amber proving that she is fearless (and at least part monkey).|
|Robyn was a little bit cautious in her play, but still had a good time climbing on the equipment.|
|Katie loved the slide: wheeeee!|
|Mandatory group shot on the teeter -totter!|
Buckle the baby up in his car seat where he can rest and be safely shaded from the sun. When he starts throwing up again, act totally shocked. Try to pat him clean with a blanket and tell the girls you have to go home in just a few minutes since the baby's not feeling well. Cover the baby up with the clean-side of the blanket facing out so if anyone walks by they won't see the brown chunkies. Look! He's falling asleep. And the girls are having so much fun. Linger just a little bit longer.
Because nothing will make you feel like a better parent than when he wakes up with a start, begins throwing up again, and you have to herd your disgruntled group hastily back up the beach to the van.
And that is how you too can camp like a Fisk. Don't worry. Only one additional child will get sick on the car ride home. And only one more besides that will get sick in the middle of the next night. But think of all the memories!
P.S. To any grandparents or cousins or friends who are considering camping with us this summer, we just wanted to let you down easy: not ALL of our camping trips are this much fun. Hopefully you'll understand if next time there isn't quite as much excitement. Even when things trend towards the boring, we still love camping and we still want to go with you!