Camping with the Kids

Campsite all set up.

Recently, my husband was away for a week on business, so I took the opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids. Since the weather in July was amazingly comfortable - and since it had been a few years since the last time I had taken one - I thought a camping trip was in order. Now, I've talked about camping plenty of times here in the past as a fun, inexpensive way to spend quality time with the family, and it's true. Getting out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is always a welcome respite.

For this simple, overnight camping trip, we decided to stay close to home by heading out to one of our favorite spots: Hitchcock Nature Center. It's only a 20-30 minute drive from our house, depending on the city traffic, but it feels like a whole other world. It's also a cheap place to pitch up a tent, costing $10.00/night. 

Since our trip was only a brief one, we ate supper before we left and merely brought a few snacks and supplies for s'mores. Setting up camp was easy then, simply pitching the tent, making up our sleeping spots, and putting the camp chairs around the fire ring.

Hiking a new trail at Hitchcock during our camping trip.

We arrived around 5 p.m. and it only took about 30 minutes to set up camp, so after we were done, we took a hike through the woods. We've hiked here many times over the past decade but managed to take a trail we had never been on before. While not a long hike by any means, it was a hard trail. It went straight down into the valley and straight up back out. 

The kids play together.

While we took an unfamiliar trail, we ended up at a familiar place: the playground. The kids spent a good hour playing...just like old times. The Teen is too old to really "play" anymore so it was refreshing to see them enjoy this activity together. This is especially true as I get ready to take him off to college soon.

We got back to camp with about an hour to spare before dark, so we got a fire going. Not only are campfires pretty awesome to sit around, they're also how you soften up marshmallows for s'mores. (Note: I am a vegan, but my kids are not, just in case you're wondering.)

The Teen likes his marshmallows burnt.

The perfect campfire.

Ahh. There's nothing like a perfect campfire on a nice night to feel peaceful, relaxed, and a million miles away from the city. We brought a few games and small camp lanterns, so we played games at the picnic table before turning in for the night. Our tent has a mesh top and a protective tent cover that you can use or not, and we elected to leave it open as the weather was nice and we could then see the stars as we laid in our beds. Nothing compares to sleeping under the glow of the stars and listening to the crickets sing you to sleep. 

This was a nice way to spend some quality time with my kids before school starts. Now that The Teen is going out into the world on his own and Nature Girl is almost a teen herself, these days are going to be fewer and farther between. Enjoy your moments while you can. I know I sure am.

We're seasoned campers so we know exactly what we need to bring and what we don't. If you're interested in camping but have never done it before, check out this article on camping for beginners. If you have kids, this article in Parenting magazine has good, basic information for camping first-time with kiddos, and if you'd like to learn how to make a camping emergency kit, check out this article.

Happy Camping!


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