Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Camping Trauma

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Its been said that being in the woods literally revitalizes us. It is a calming place to be. Elmo and I love to be in the woods. I definitely feel recharged after a camping trip. Such was the case when we went to Spencer Creek (when I was very pregnant... with Spencer).

We decided to take Spencer for his first camping trip last August to celebrate our 4th anniversary. It was going to be a biggie, too! I researched and found an out-of-state State Park with two popular swimming holes nearby. It had no cell phone signal, but also hosted a few geocaches. It sounded perfect!

Our van started acting funny on the way there. I undercooked our dinner and then it started raining so I couldn't really finish it. It rained the first night and our tent leaked. We drove to town in the middle of the night to buy a tarp, which we then fought to put up... in the rain... in the middle of the night. Swimming holes... well there had been a drought so they weren't open for swimming. The second night it rained so bad that it flooded our tent! We did enjoy the meals at the small cafe on-site, but had already spent our food budget on actual groceries. That we couldn't cook due to the rain.

See the water lines on the pole? The water level was waaay down.

We did get to enjoy swimming in the pool at the state park before leaving - a day early. Getting home was a nightmare because of the trouble with the van. It was basically overheating over and over again, despite having water in it. It took us over 6 hours to make a 4 hour drive.

At this point, I am hoping that camping hasn't been ruined for us. It was a horrible experience. Our next camp out will start in our back yard... for practice. and healing.

I think camping will still be our favorite way to get away (its really the most cost efficient, right?), but I have often said that I wished we could get some camping mentors. We don't feel confident in our skills or knowledge of camping and I don't know how you're supposed to learn without someone to teach you.

What is your favorite family getaway?
Do you know how to camp? If so, who taught you?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia's Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don't take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don't just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you're a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki's post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our "Western Adventure" — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look "picture perfect" to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan's recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers "behind the scenes" so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family's new "beach house"!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier - and your kids happier - and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won't make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents' station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!


  1. I LOVE the idea of a camping mentor! I never camped until college when I went on an Outdoor Bound-like wilderness backpacking trip before starting my freshman year. I got used to sleeping under a tarp (no tents), drinking lake water with iodine pills, and eating a lot of peanuts and raisins. Before kids, my husband and I camped a few times but didn't integrate it into our lives as I would have liked. We finally went camping as a family this past October with a Navigators (scout alternative) group, and my kids had a blast. But I was so out of my league - borrowed a lot of stuff, used other peoples cookware, took advantage of their fires...There is another group camping trip this coming weekend that I would have liked to attend but feel like I am just not up for doing all I'd need to do (especially with such a restrictive diet). A trip like the one you describe would put me over the edge! But I did sleep outside with the kids one night over Memorial Day, and it was really nice, so I do hope you can do that and that you find it to be healing.

  2. Really hope you are not going to let one challenging trip put you off camping as a family. The idea of start small with a camp in the back yard and build on it from there is a great idea.
    We love all kinds of trips with our family although camping has always been a rewarding experience. Both my husband and I grew up with camping trips and as young adults this progressed to a number of backpacking holidays with friends in the mountains around Europe walking and climbing.
    When we had children we wanted to share with our children the amazing experiences you can have camping: like watching the night’s sky without lots of night pollution and being more in sync with nature. So there should be no surprise that both our son and daughter have been on a number of camping trips starting before they were six months old.
    We started small with just one night away at a campsite near our home before building up to longer trips and then on to trips to Bothies (simple mountain shelters in Scotland). Recently my husband has taken our eldest on a few wild camping trips in the mountains, packing everything they need into a large rucksack and then walking a few miles from the nearest road into remote spots; taking the time to let our son help him with putting the tent up, collecting water and preparing food. This does mean everything takes a bit longer although the rewards of watching our son learn and explore are well worth. All these trips have made for the most wonderful experiences and memories that we will always cherish.

  3. I'm covering my ears and pretending not to read this ;) We're going on a 5 night camping trip to Colorado next month, our first family-only camping trip (the first two trips have been with friends). I'm really excited, but justifiably nervous. Fingers crossed we have pleasant weather and no car troubles - I can see how that would ruin the experience for you!!

  4. When we camp, we go to a campsite twenty minutes away. I know, so adventurous, right? But we like the security of knowing we can go home if everything goes wrong.

    We're actually thinking that this summer's camping trip (while I'm hugely pregnant) will involve me enjoying the time till bed with the family at the site, driving home to sleep on my own comfy bed, and then returning in the morning to pick them up!

    So, yeah, we're definitely not veteran campers, but we're enjoying learning what works for us. We did discover that air mattresses go a long way toward making sleeping on the ground bearable!

  5. Laurie at Parental Intelligence
    I actually know a father who's separated that planned the first camping trip with his kids in his basement! I think the idea of a "Camping Coach" must be out there somewhere. Maybe once you learn, you'll have a new enterprise! Think positive. Everyone survived and you still sound like you're up for another try. Impressive!


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