Camping with kids quiet waters park picking wildflowers

This Weekend Camping with the Kids

If you haven’t read my previous post on why this camping trip is going down, then check it out here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to be honest. Last week, I was desperate for some sort of flashing beacon of hope that my son wouldn’t be swallowed up by life’s forces. Probably worse, that he would be living in my house jobless and addicted to video games at the ripe old age of 35. I know that I’m probably exaggerating, blowing things out of proportion. My son is smart. Not the I’m-a-parent-and-my-child-is-smart type of smart. The boy has got brains for days. But those brains were stopping short of accomplishing common sense tasks and I wanted to light a fire under him, namely by having him build a few fires. I’ve got excellent news, Dear Readers. Our trip was a success. Of course, it is only a start, but it was a very good one. Please allow me the honor of sharing the experience.

The day started with buckets of rain. I had a lot riding on this trip, so imagine my dismay. My daughter was also feeling pretty bummed. This was to be their first camping trip and she was bursting at the seams with excitement. My son… he reminded me that he’s more of an indoor person. So to wait out the rain, we filled up our morning with child labor. In other words, my bedroom needed the walls repainted, so I let the lessons begin before the trip and put paint rollers in their hands. Hey, Mr. Miyagi did it to the Karate Kid and just look how well things worked out for him. Am I right?

I booked this trip somewhat last-minute and just went on the recommendation of a friend. Let’s just say that this isn’t the type of camping that I’ve grown used to. It’s not so much glamping, but it isn’t fully camping either. Our campground has pre-built tents that are elevated… well, here’s a photo.

Camping with kids quiet waters park

Okay, so… wow… this is definitely a lot fancier than any camping I’ve ever known. Looks like this won’t be exactly the rite of passage that I imagined for my boy, but it’s a baby step in the right direction. And just in case the weather decides to turn on us again, it’ll be quite nice to have room to move about and play some board games if we can’t go out. Imagining 3 people in a humidified little tent is enough to make me grateful for this luxury.

The kids immediately set out to make friends with the neighbors– a group of girls my son’s age that are having a birthday camping sleepover. He’s looking more perked up already. And I love the fact that the kids are out roaming independently while I write this. City kids, even suburb kids, rarely get to do run about freely anymore. Also, it leaves me some time to alternate between writing this and considering shutting my eyes to nap. It took some energy to wrestle up all of these “essential” camping supplies.

Ah camping. Getting back to the basics– food, water and shelter, right? So why has a 2 day camping trip caused my car to be filled to near capacity? Let’s see, there’s charcoal and lighter fluid, 3 pots and pans, cups, plates, water, bread, hot dogs, oatmeal, fruit, granola bars, camera, tripod, sleeping bags, you get the idea.

I’ve got this bucket list item to backpack the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail and, quite frankly, I’ve got a lot of hard work to do. How the hell am I going to make that happen? When it comes to travel, I went from being a chronic overpacker to a single carry-on-er. Yeah, I’m proud of that one. But there’s something different about not being able to run out to a nearby shop and quickly grab that thing I forgot to bring. Makes me all kinds of paranoid.

While in my state of flux, my daughter runs into the tent and tells me excitedly that Mission: Friendship is a success. She disappears and when they return, it’s with collection of shells they’ve gathered by the water.

Camping shells
Pretty impressive search results.

As the sun is setting, it’s time to start educating the little rascal on the fine art of fire building.

Camping sunset

Except I totally suck at fire building. Something about fires, I just can’t ever get them hot. Thankfully, I’ve only got this problem with fires. (I should be ashamed of myself, I know).

By dinnertime, my insistence that he do the bulk of the work is put to the test.  The other girls and their moms and I decide to join forces and make this camping thing a real event. So they lug over their supplies and we whip out all of ours and everyone’s just waiting on the fire to get those hot dogs sizzling. Will we eat hearty or starve? Or some miserable something in the middle?

He starts a raging fire.

Camping Austin fire

Excellent. See when this picture is taken, he doesn’t realize that maintaining a fire is a whole other process. Let’s combine that with the fact we’re wanting to cook on the fire pit instead of the grill because it looks more cozy… You see how far away that grate is from the actual flames? Not effective. We keep trying to keep it alive, and the girls have all got wieners on sticks and all they want is some food dammit.

I’ll tell you one thing, the boy loves his lighter fluid. But then again, who doesn’t?

Camping with kids quiet waters park hot dog on a stick

Between all of us, we have one bag of charcoal and this fire isn’t going to cut it. Us women, although hell-bent on not admitting defeat, are too hungry to fight. We send some of the girls to find some help. A woman, we tell them. Don’t come back here with a man. We need saving, but we want a woman to save us. How many of you women out there know feel what I’m saying?

It’s not that we have anything against men; it’s just that men to the rescue seem to always have this, I’m here to rescue you poor women folk, sort of air about them. I don’t think they can help it. Everyone likes to feel needed after all. I think women have the same air when they are telling a man, here honey, let me show you how to do this (insert seemingly simple activity).

Anyhow, they come back with a man. A man who looks as though he was born in the woods. His momma went right around back behind some tree 42 years ago and popped him out, and he’s been coming back to the woods 5 times a year since that day. Us moms want to start whispering to each other, but we don’t quite know what to say. Anything we say will make us sound like jerks. We laugh when one of the girls run ahead of him and whispers to us that they asked a woman, but he got up and came instead.

He scopes out our situation, points out the issues and promises to return. And he does. Along with him are a bag of charcoal, firewood (which for whatever reason I thought wasn’t allowed at this campsite) and his own 3 children bouncing along behind him. He educates us on some do’s and don’ts and helps us get back on track. We make certain to tell his children that their father is a hero. He swept in and saved the dinner. We send him off with a round of applause and Austin gets back to work, on the grill this time.

Side lesson learned: If you’re going to try to pop popcorn in a cast iron skillet, be prepared to wait at least 45 minutes for the first kernel to pop. There are better techniques out there. Hint: Aluminum foil.

Camping with kids quiet waters park making popcorn on the grill

It turns out that the large tent was excellent for rousing board game battles.

Camping with kids quiet waters park board games

In the morning, my son goes on to make breakfast without a single complaint or a single word of advice from me. He had been paying attention to the generous and helpful gentleman the night before and proceeds to make sausages, boil water for oatmeal, coffee for me and tea for him and his sister.

Camping with kids quiet waters park making coffee
Nothing quite like coffee in the morning.

Camping with kids quiet waters park sausages on the skillet

After breakfast, he actually goes and takes a nap. The idea of him being exhausted due to activity and not lethargy makes me giddy. We leave him to rest and my daughter takes the lead on another shell-hunting adventure. I also do one of my favorite hiking activities, picking flowers and creating little bundles to tuck into my journal. Here are the two that I came up with.

Camping with kids quiet waters park wildflower picking

Camping with kids quiet waters park picking wildflowers

When everyone from both camps are up and ready, we spend the afternoon mainly doing two things: hiking the nature trail and visiting the water park. On the nature trail, the kids run around playing hide and seek and speculating on various plants while us moms get to know each other and have lots of laughs. By the end of it, we are tired. And by we, I mean the adults. These children are insatiable. We resist the urge to force everyone to take a nap and head over to the water park for what we hope to be no more than a couple of hours. Amanda reads her e-book in the shade; Jill reads her paperback in the sun, and I write this blog post in my notebook.

We arrive back home in time for dinner of macaroni and cheese and sausages, made by you know who. It’s difficult for the kids to say goodbye to all of the fun and great new people they’ve met, but alas, life is calling.

At least, this time, I think he’ll be a little more prepared.






32 thoughts on “This Weekend Camping with the Kids

    1. You can do it! The first time I went camping, my friend and I tried lighting the fire with matches and hand sanitizer because we forgot lighters and fluid. Made for a good story and we felt like badasses. Dumb, but badass. I’m super happy with how this trip turned out. Thanks for the love 🙂


  1. This was most definitely a great step in the right direction for him given the episode previously of questionable ‘forestry skills’…hahaha!

    Congratulations Lyz! You may have just set him on a path of Bear Grylls or Navy Seals Special Ops! Woot woot! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! And then he’ll have a tv show and tell everyone I inspired him. And then they’ll ask me about it and give me a show. And then they’ll follow me everywhere with cameras and I’ll hate it and go into hiding. I can’t wait 🙂 That’s one small step for a mom…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! I do the exact same cerebral-cortex exercises — maybe more than I should, but I love my kids, right!? — with my son who as a baseball hind-catcher at 16-years old is already being scouted by NCAA D1 and D2 schools. Wanna guess WHO he attributes his vision and success to? Yep…

        Muah! (does the proud Papa dance with sizzle-finger-touch on da butt!) 😀

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, though I AM affectionate, including infrequent kisses(?), I said in my head “Me” in French, but my hands — which often have a brain of their own! — typed a big fat KISS! :0

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it…especially the personal nod to getting fires hot. Lol. But honestly I feel terrified at the thought of camping with my kids. …although you made it look SO easy (hehe, sort of). 🙂 Who knows, maybe I’ll reconsider and get them out there. They would LOVE IT I’m sure. You should get a #1 mom award for the camping trip truly! Bravo mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coming from a mom of two teenagers and a pre-teen, that means a whole lot! Keep a secret stache of peanut butter sandwiches in the trunk in case things all apart. And you can always sleep in the car if the tent falls apart. What’s that? You’re going to go for it? Awesome! 🙂


    1. He did! Said he’d like to do it again. Of course, there probably won’t be 6 girls his age there next time, but it’s a start haha. Thanks for the cheering, Angela.


  3. That is a marvellous post. I could see scenes almost playing out before me eyes, dear Lyz. And who says only fathers take their kids for camping trips… Good on you for breaking stereotypes, something I am sure you do pretty often 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

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