Allow me to share the ninth installment of our Very Rookie Summer series.
Bec is just beyond the official definition of being a “true rookie” mom to her son Ben. Ben is a whopping 13 months old. She is sharing the story of their rookie camping trip together on Vancouver Island at Rathtrevor Provincial Park.
For even more details about the camping trip (and the rest of Bec’s life), see www.becshulba.blogspot.com.
I have a 13 month old, Ben. My husband, son, and I were camping with friends and their children, ages 5, 3, and 16 months. Because camping was their idea, I figured they were pros. I wanted to appear to be a pro myself therefore, packed enough food for 7 days instead of the intended 2 days and packed a suitcase full of clothes for each of us.
Unfortunately, this only made me look more disorganized when I could never find what I was looking for. Thankfully, I soon discovered that our friends had only camped with their brood once previously. Phew. The (imagined) pressure was off.
We spent most of each day at the beach, building sand piles and driftwood forts, finding baby crabs, and unintentionally filling diapers with said sand.
Despite my son’s excitement for beach activities, I brought him back to our campsite for his naps twice each day. Each nap, he lay down in his pack-and-play and slept immediately which was a big surprise to me – but being outside is tiring for little ones! During the toddlers’ afternoon naps, my friend had her 3 and 5 year olds bring out their backpacks with their chosen toys. She laid out a blanket in the forest next to our campsite for them to play on and we hung out in our folding chairs. The shade of the trees was perfect change of pace for the heat of the afternoon.
Unfortunately, sleeping at night was not as easy. 20 – 30 minutes of crying to go sleep the first night. Our friends’ toddler cried for even longer one night when she went down. Leaving a baby to cry-it-out in a campsite is total stress. What we found, however, is that they eventually do go to sleep. We were camping in a camper on the back of pick-up truck. The pack-and-play was set up with a little path to our bed.
When it came time for us to sneak in to our camper, our friends whipped out glow-sticks! As it turns out, glow sticks (you can a pack of them for a couple dollars at Michael’s or Wal-Mart) are the best kind of night-light for camping! They’re not bright but in the pitch dark, they’re all you need. Even though we took our glowsticks and tried our best to get into the camper bed quietly, Ben woke up. He definitely seemed scared of the shadowy shapes carrying tiny beams of coloured light so I quickly picked him up and assured him it was his mommy. I gave him a comfort bottle in hopes to resume drowsiness but no such luck. Wailing ensued. At 11:30pm in a campground. If I had thought crying at a 7pm bedtime was stressful, it was nothing compared to this. Now, I’d read many a blog post and heard from many a friend that when they were camping, their kid ended up sleeping in their bed with them. While I could never quite imagine this working with my baby boy, I pulled him out of the playpen and popped him in between my husband and I. Terrible idea. I don’t know who these kids are who lay down and sleep between their parents when camping and they are not Ben. Ben was instantly full of giggles and energy. Back into the playpen he went. Yes. We let him cry it out at 11:30pm with our friends camping right next to us and the sound carrying far and clear to many a campsite nearby. Sigh. But he fell asleep.
Both mornings that we were camping, Ben woke up between 5:30 – 6am. After bad sleeps, this was way too early but it got me up and going for a half hour walk each day. And thankfully, this campsite has a Nature House that also sells Organic Salt Spring Island Coffee…mmm…
So, camping with a toddler – was it worth it? I didn’t even tell you the “how do we clean the sand off this baby?” story! Let’s just say that we made some memories and I’m sure we will be back but maybe we’ll wait a year or two until next time so we know that he will actually remember it too.
If you’re ever in British Columbia, Canada, more specifically on Vancouver Island, I would highly recommend Rathtrevor Provincial Park as a place to camp with children. The bathrooms are clean and have showers. There is not only forest to play in but beautiful beaches with both rocks and sand. The water that comes out of the taps is drinkable. These are all must-haves in my book when camping with wee ones.
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