Sunday, June 19, 2005

First Family Camp-out - We did it!

There are of course a haystack's worth of mental post-its from the past two days that I'd love to jot down here, but I'm getting old you ya know, and I can't remember even half of 'em.

Camp situation Who wants pudding? "I am a bear eating my porriage" These are almost gone - so hurry up with the food would you? Megan in the Dark Darkly Yours I was asleep, really No, it's okay. I don't want the flashlight. Maddy has the dreaded GREEN TONGUE disease Megan, party girl Maddy and the puppet hand say, "Hello" Just me and my bottle Great smile! Hot chocolate in the light of the flashlight Playing with flashlights in a dark field "off" bug repellant candle Michael investigates Michael is very silly Packing up
Camp Hope
A photo-set by Allan & Cheryl.

This weekend was the annual Filipino Campmeeting held out at the camp property our church has near Hope, BC. We decided to make this weekend our first try at camping out with the kids.

Pro's - This would be a car-camping situation near the camp lodge. Warm, heated rooms and washroom facilities would be nearby if the twins or the kids got too cold or fussy. If things got too bad, we would only stay one night and then come home.

Con's - Our weather this weekend was supposed to be damp - if not downright drizzly. Anyone familiar with how the (ugly) weather comes up the Fraser Valley and funnels to Hope, would have praised us to the skies for being prudent (though we would have felt like we chickened out).

My dad, representing the majority opinion, thought we were nuts. Well, he was too polite to say so in so many words, but he did his best to encourage us to get a room in the lodge, and we almost took him up on it.

The kids, on the other hand, were really looking forward to our first family camp-out. I took Michael camping last fall, and his sisters have been pestering us for their turn to tent.

The twins, were the real deciding factor, as they are now firmly transitioned into the toddling stage. Now that they aren't nursing anymore, are transitioning from bottles to real food, and are becoming more sturdy, our concerns about tenting with them have decreased.

In the end, we decided to go for it anyhow.

Executive Travellers
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I planned ahead to take last Friday off so that we would have the whole day to pack-up, travel, and then set-up camp. I wanted to ensure that we would not have any time pressure on us when it came to setting up camp and making supper.

Thursday evening we shooed the kids off to bed early and then started our packing. Cheryl planned the food, clothes, and bedding, while I organized our gear. Tent, tarp, accessory cord, stove, fuel, etc.

Day 1

Friday morning dawned overcast and cluttered, but we had made our decision and got on with our preparations. I packed the van, and then Cheryl repacked it. In the end, we managed to get all our stuff in with breathing space to spare.

The drive up to Hope was uneventful - though the showers really didn't let up much. All of the kids napped, except for Melissa, who was too keyed up to actually go to sleep.

Madeleine and the tent
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

We arrive around 3 PM, and were almost the first people there! We stopped in at the lodge office and I ran into the mother of the only other Allan that I ever went to school with, back in Winnipeg. She said we could put up our tent anywhere around the back of the lodge (where the big RV's and 5th wheel trailers usually set up).

Camp Cheerleader - Someone is excited about camping!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I picked a spot under the biggest cedar I could find. It was so big that there was a 10 foot radius of dry ground around the trunk. I set up the tent on one side of it, and Cheryl started unloading the bedding from the van into it.

Madeleine, outdoors adventure show host - "And here, our sweaty assistant is setting up the tent!"
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

It was only after I had got the fly onto the tent (and Cheryl had set up everyone's sleeping pads and bags), that I realized I had pitched the tent's entrance facing into the wind. Oops. Cheryl took great glee in ribbing me that she had originally suggested the tent go where I eventually moved it to so that the wind blew across the entrances instead of in them. I parked the van to the windward side of the tree and tent, and we were set!

Crew unloading
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In hindsight, I should have guessed that the kids would have a hard time going to sleep their first night in the tent. Cheryl of course knew how things were going to go, but I was totally unprepared for all the giggling, tickling, and general tomfoolery that went on after supper until well after daylight had completely faded. Call me dense, eh?

It's not bedtime - it's PARTY time!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

They do comedy too..
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

One of the fun things that came out of this was that Melissa got to further her photographic career with some funny candids.

Mommy, say 'Cheese!'
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In the tent
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The kids eventually went to sleep, but the twins took full advantage of their newfound (crib-less) freedom and we found them sleeping in various parts of the tent at various times of the night.

Day 2

The next day was full of activities and neat moments. Even if the twins hadn't woke up at first light (along with the birds), the day would have been really long anyhow.

Thought to expand on - There were baby racoons in the great cedar which sheltered us.

Melissa supervising
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Now blow, gently ..
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Day 3

Sorry folks. Not quite done this article yet. Thoughts to expand on:

Packing up is hard to do, but it goes easier if the kids have bubbles (thanks again to AviatorDave!) to play with!

Wouldn'tjaknowit, but the sun came out just as we struck camp.

Everyone should have a Michael - that is, a boy who will scarf down porridge like it's pudding and not blink.

Camping Notes

Always make sure you bring a laundry duffle - a stuff sack won't cut it.

Toddler-camping = packing lots of clothes. This is why Lewis and Clark didn't bring a lot of the wee folk along, while the voyageurs could. Think backpacking versus canoeing; it'll come to you.

On our way out to the camp we stopped and bought an "Off!" citronella candle pot, as we didn't have any of our usual citronella candles for our candle-lantern. It turned out to be very effective and one if those things we will be sure to put onto our lists for future car-campouts.

Candle pot
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Another item that I am glad I thought to bring was and old shelf to use as a stable platform for our camp-stove. However, it wasn't quite a fully realized solution. It worked as intended - but my back would have been a lot happier if it had legs that raised it at least waist high.

The stove set up - a table would have been easier on our backs.
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In the it sorta worked category - the outdoor rug. We're definitely bringing it along in the future, but it really won't work well until the kids are a bit older and understand how to use it properly. The idea is that you now have a dry place to take your shoes off before you get into the tent.

Looking into our temporary abode
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

To extend the thought begun above, with a nod to suggestions from some of our on-line friends, having the kids use sandals or slippers (in the summertime) is a good idea. The tent door or vestibule area is no place to be fussing with lacing up your runners or boots. I pretty much stayed in my flip-flops all weekend, while Cheryl dealt with her runners. It wasn't until Day 2 that she got wise to the method of my madness and switched to sandals herself.


David said...

...giggling, tickling, and general tomfoolery

Yeah, my cadets are the same way on campouts, and they are teenagers. There has been known to be hijinks among those even older, too.

Looks like fun!

LarryandJean said...

How'd you do those cool photostamps that you've added at the beginning?

Also, the familiarity of some of the between-the-lines bits cracked me up: "I packed the van, and then Cheryl repacked it." Uh, huh. Yup. ;-)


Allan said...

Will send along a description of how to do it, when I get a free 1/2 hour or so.