Last week, we spent some time camping in Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania. This was a lovely destination surrounded by forests, bogs, a small beach, and plenty of sticks for the kids to wield like swords.
My husband and I enjoy camping, but we have not camped since the kids came along about six years ago. Due to my children’s wild bedtime antics and the general volume of their voices, I was convinced that camping would be a disaster. If not for us, for anyone else camping in a mile radius! However, after a few successful hotel stays where the kids managed to sleep in the same room together without alerting hotel management, we decided to give it a go. And, it was awesome.
1. We existed without technology (including phones!) for over 24 hours. This is amazing. Probably more amazing that the adults did it, but I would like to see if we can accomplish this again!
2. It was fun – for everyone. We often do things that the kids enjoy, but my husband and I find boring or tedious (bounce houses, carnivals, playgrounds, etc ). Or, we drag the kids to something that my husband and I like to do (eating at restaurants, going to museums, etc.), which the children find boring or tedious. This was a nice compromise! Some of our favorite parts of the camping experience included: canoeing on the lake, taking a walk through a bog that is home to carnivorous plants (!), eating s’mores, eating s’mores again for breakfast, hiking around the lake, and playing on the beach.
3. There was minimal complaining. It was hot and the kids had little sleep the night before. We made them do things like hike up a mountain and canoe around a lake, but no one really complained. These types of activities are usually met with some sort of combination of the following:
- “I’m hot.”
- “My legs are too tired to walk anymore.”
- “I need a snack.”
- “I have to go to the bathroom.”
- “This is boring.”
- “I want the Kindle/iPad/your phone.”
Although we live in the woods at home, the kids really loved exploring new woods and new trails, and we enjoyed watching them. I think they also realized there was only so much that complaining was going to get them when stuck in the middle of the lake.
4. We all worked together. We had the kids help set up camp, and when it was time to leave, they helped clean up as well. It was nice that they didn’t have a room to disappear to when I wanted them to get a chore done!
There were some mishaps along the way; believe me, the trip wasn’t perfect. There was a late night bloody nose after some horseplay in the tent, a forgotten grill, and a midnight rain storm to name a few, but these were just minor blips. No one seemed to be too bothered by much, and we all figured out how to make the best of it.
5. It was a learning experience. At home in our woods, the kids pretty much have free reign to explore; however, on this trip we really emphasized how it was important to stay on the designated trails and to not disturb the wildlife. Of course, this elicited a million questions, but it was fascinating to see them start to understand basic ideas of preserving natural habitats.
We also learned a ton about bogs since my son wanted me to read every single sign on the half mile boardwalk passage through the bog. I knew very little about bogs, but I was quite fascinated by the signs that told us how bogs can naturally mummify bodies!
6. The kids are at the age where most things are amazing to them. They still cannot stop talking about sleeping in a tent – outside! Every tree, rock, stick, or flower found on our hikes was something to be studied and investigated. Camping is a great way to explore new areas and to instill a permanent sense of natural wonder into your children.
7. It creates such fun memories. I have so many memories of camping with my family as a child. One of my favorite memories is camping on Assateague Island in Maryland with my dad and having to eat my baked potato with a seashell because we forgot forks.
I just asked my son what he liked most about the trip, and he said, “Eating s’mores for breakfast!” My daughter replied, “The camping!” (She means the campfire.) I truly think they will retain many memories of their first camping trip. But, if not, that’s okay because I am already planning our next one.
Follow some of our other summer adventures on Instagram. I am trying to do one new thing a day with the kids this summer. I’m already exhausted, but it’s been fun so far! Anyone doing anything interesting with their little ones? Give me some new ideas!