a camping we will go

In celebration of Scott’s first father’s day we loaded up the truck on Friday afternoon and headed out to a local campground for our first camping adventure since Kaylee was born. We decided to stay close to home just in case it didn’t go well, but Kaylee did great. Even though we were only about 40 minutes from home we planned as if we weren’t as a trial run for a longer trip in the future. We made a few mistakes, but for the most part, everything went well.

The first challenge came in the campsite we reserved online. It was meant for an RV and there wasn’t any grass so we had to pitch the tent on the gravel. We had pads to sleep on, but we waged a constant battle against the small bits of pebbles that made their way into the tent, and Kaylee’s mouth.

She took every opportunity to get dirty and we were happy to oblige.

We brought the pack-and-play for Kaylee to sleep in. I was glad we had it because we used it to contain her when we did things that required both of us, like setting up and taking down camp. We have a four person tent so it was pretty cramped, and it was hard to get her in and out of the pack-and-play while it was inside. I think next time we’ll just put the pack-and-play mattress on the floor between us and have her sleep on that.

I was so thankful to have the truck too. It came in very handy as a large playpen and she loved the novelty of being up high with extra room to run around. I think it would have been much more difficult to manage her if she wasn’t already walking.

She also took a nap there too.

There was plenty of nature and wildlife to keep us entertained. A determined chipmunk even did his best to try to break into the tent, but luckily he was never successful. The campground even had a playground where we met five-year old Kayla and her little sister KRISTEN!!!!! (as in “KRISTENNNNNN don’t run in front of MY swing”, “KRISTEEENNNNNN, STOP!!!”,  “KRISTEN, NO!!!”). Eventually their mom stopped by and we had a nice chat. Turns out it was just the three of them on this trip because their dad got called in to work, but they are camping veterans and started out when the oldest was just 3 months old.  I can’t even imagine.

It was pretty warm out so we made sure Kaylee stayed hydrated. She ate a ton too. We brought along yoghurt, applesauce, bananas, and gram crackers for her and also let her try everything we ate as well. We made our signature camp meal for dinner – Kilbasa Kebobs – which consist of Kilbasa, apricots,& plums on skewers all slathered in marmalade. Super yummy and quick. We also had pancakes, sausage, and eggs for breakfast. Kaylee looovvvves pancakes. The only thing she didn’t get to test out were the smoores…maybe next time.

Scott built a fire to be proud of. Building a fire seems easy, but making one that will last well into the night, or that you want to cook on, is quite a science.  We learned from our first camping trip together to bring along a bag of charcoal and lighter fluid just in case you have trouble getting the logs to light. We also learned to bring along a camp stove too because eating is kind of a big deal and a cold meal on the first night means everyone goes to bed grumpy and wakes up that way too.

Another problem we ran into this time around is that we totally forgot our chairs. Sitting at the picnic table and on the ground all evening did a number on my tailbone. By morning I was so sore I could hardly sit at all. I think I can safely say chairs will be the first thing in the car from now on and will never be left behind again! We also had some rowdy ‘neighbors’ in the form of eight teenagers out of their element, with no clue what they were doing, up until 3am. They had two flood lights on their site that reflected light into our tent until the power went out. They started their campfire with a blowtorch, smoking out all of their neighbors. They even had a visit from the park rangers around 11pm, but that didn’t seem to help.  Luckily Kaylee was completely oblivious to their shenanigans. She went down at 7pm and slept until 2am, waking briefly for a bottle before falling back to sleep until 7am. I think all the nature sounds helped her tune everything else out.

We ended up with some car trouble on the first night, the accelerator stopped working while Scott was out buying firewood from the office. He managed to get back to our site by idling and managed to fix it before dark. Because of that, and not really wanting to deal with another night of The Real World across the way, we decided to head out after breakfast and a trip to the playground the next day.

We accomplished what we set out to and left feeling good about our first adventure despite a few setbacks. It was so nice to have family time together without any distractions. We did lots of playing, laughing, and snuggling.

Happy father’s day daddy!

Tips for camping with baby:

  • Thwart bugs and sun. We like Off Clip-ons and California Baby sunscreen. Both are a bit pricey, but work great and you don’t need to worry about harsh chemicals being absorbed into your little one’s skin or dealing with the aftermath of not being prepared. We try to get Kaylee to wear a sun hat too, but she has been adamantly opposed to the idea lately.
  • Plan for cold nights even in the middle of summer. Bring a hat and layers to sleep in for both baby and parents and don’t sleep in what you wore all day. Also, air mattresses are nice and comfy but they transfer the cold from the ground right to your body. A sleep pad designed to regulate heat distribution and a sleeping bag on top are the secret to a good night sleep, assuming baby lets you get some shut-eye 😉
  • Bring along something to contain your baby when you need your hands free to do other things. For us that meant a pack-and-play and the bed of the truck – a sling or other carrier would work too if your baby is small enough. We also adore the JJ Cole outdoor blanket.
  • Everyone should be drinking lots of water. Leave a cup or bottle out where you baby can get to it and offer it often.
  • This isn’t the time to introduce new foods, schedules, & rules. Bring along the food they are used to eating for the bulk of their meals and let them sample the new stuff in small portions unless you already know they won’t react badly to it. Also try to keep their sleep schedule intact, you’ll all be better off for it.
  • Bring along all the creams, lotions, and potions you use at home including ibuprofen, teething gel, & diaper rash cream.
  • Relax and enjoy. They’re going to get dirty and probably end up putting dirt, grass, bugs, sand, and whatever else they can get ahold of into their mouth.
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