This summer is shaping up to be a great one. Typically I get really lazy during the summer months. My house is a mess because I never want to be inside to clean it, I get a lot of reading done and we try to make the most of spending time together. We're getting the exterior of our house redone right now however so being in the backyard isn't the best at the moment (I can't wait for it to be done!) so we're trying to find outdoor fun elsewhere.
Recently we spent four days on our first camping trip with the kids. We went to Valens Conservation Area which is part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority. Since it was our first time with the kids I didn't want to go far and I was only thinking we should go one day but Mark talked me into four days which was a good decision.
In short: the kids loved it. It was fun for them to be outside all the time and neat to see them experience something new. We opted to rent a camper trailer which was the right decision for us. We were all able to sleep comfortably, while still getting the outdoor camping experience. Valens has a great beach for families so we were there most of the time and we were close enough to Mark's family and friends in Hamilton that a few of them came to visit for a day at the beach.
Here's what I learned from this trip:
Make a good list. We downloaded a list of things to bring camping and made sure to go through it one item by one to make sure we covered all of our bases. I did forget a few things though so make sure to cross reference the list with other things you want to bring. For example, I wanted to make pizzas, but forgot a rolling pin!
Prep as much food as possible at home. As I mentioned above, I wanted pizza for dinner one night so I made the dough at home before hand to bring with us. I also pre-made things like tempeh-bacon (it's so good I promise!!!) and cut up all my veggies making it easy to add them to salads and the pizza. Preparing things beforehand will help ease headaches if you don't have the right equipment at your hands on the campsite.
Don't pack too many clothes. If there's anything I've yet to actually learn it's not to pack so many clothes! I didn't know what the weather would be like so I packed tshirts, long sleeves, long pants etc for every day and the reality is that the kids (and you!) will wear less than a quarter of it. Leo wanted to wear the same shorts most days (The shorts with the holes! They're faster Mom!) and as my friend pointed out, if it gets dirty just keep wearing it because everything camping is dirty! Plus it's less laundry to do when you get home.
Bring the linens you're used to. We knew we'd be sleeping in a bed so to keep things simple I just packed up each of our bed linens (including duvets and comforters) to bring with us. Even though it added to our bulk of things to bring we were all so comfortable sleeping because we were using blankets, sheets and pillows we were all used to.
Bring toys for the kids but don't go overboard. A while back we got one of those lay and go bags so we just piled a bunch of stuff in the bag to bring and that was it. The bag came in super handy when we went to the beach because we threw all the towels in the bag making it easier to get to the beach. Kids can make their own fun otherwise and what a great place to make fun than in nature?
Stock up on music. We are a music-loving family and we always have it on in the house so we wanted it with us camping too. The problem is that there's no wifi out in the wilderness (for good reason) so things like Songza aren't available. Make sure you have as much music as possible actually on your phones (if you're bringing them) and bring a long a wireless speaker so you can listen to music during the whole trip.
The one thing I didn't love about camping is the food storage options. The fridge in our camper wasn't working so we stored everything in our coolers which is fine except if you're using ice everything will get waterlogged if you don't keep an eye on it and pack it properly. I would love it better if I could have a better system for keeping food cold without all of the cooler water.
After reading this post you may call me a 'Glamper'. I loved the camper, want a working fridge and we had a mini stove to cook on, but hey it's still outside right? I'm already looking forward to next year.