Friday, 29 July 2011

Camping with the boys

Earlier this week I took the boys camping for 4 days, 3 nights. Yes, that is I, meaning by myself, without my husband. James was able to come up and sleep with us at night, but he was off early in the morning and didn't get in until dinner each night. So for most of the time, it was just me and the boys.


Okay, it was exhausting and chaotic as well, but so much fun. I usually prefer provincial parks, because their campsites offer more privacy. But while I enjoy being surrounded by only nature, the boys are a little young, since they can't really hike or bike yet. So I opted for a nearby KOA instead. You are almost on top of your neighbours, but that actually worked in our favour, since the boys love to meet and make new friends. The KOA also had lots of activities and things to do to keep the boys busy.

This is just the top of a huge wooden pirate ship park. There is a lower level that the kids can run around inside, and a big (fast!) slide and swings. There is another more traditional park at the other side of the campground, but we didn't even get to that - this was such a hit.

The mini golf course will be closing in August for major renovations, so they were offering as much free golf as you wanted. The boys would often play two or three rounds at a time. Benjamin held his putter like a hockey stick. Caleb always threw his ball down the green for his initial "putt" and then slid it around like a puck on ice until it got in the hole. Colin had a much better handle on how one is supposed to play the game, but then again, I've never been a stickler for rules. I like how creative the boys could get.

About 25 feet from our campsite was this mini basketball court. Colin spent about half an hour one evening, while eating dinner, sitting in his chair and watching some teenagers play basketball. It was typical Colin learning style. After that, he picked up the ball and started imitating them, everything from dribbling to shooting to trying to pass it around his back. Interesting that during school this year, his report cards kept saying all year that he needed to learn how to handle a ball, and yet once he was interested in learning it, he spent no more than 30 minutes studying it before he was doing it, no problem.

Giant Snakes and Ladders, where you get to be the "man." Hours of fun. They also had giant checkers/chess. Colin actually beat me in checkers. Twice.

I call this one "tent tumbling." Every night before bed the boys would jump all over each other, rolling around in our large 8-man tent. (Which could never in a million year sleep 8 grown men!)

There was also wagon ride, crafts, and organized games put on by the KOA. Bonus was the small wading pool, only about 18" deep, which meant I could take the boys swimming during the day when James wasn't there. James took Colin and Caleb into the big swimming pool in the evenings. There was a fire ban, so no fires, to the major disappointment of the boys, and much to the detriment of my menu!

Oh, and it absolutely POURED BUCKETS of rain the first two nights we were there. One of the biggest thunderstorms I've heard in a while, and trust me, every drop is like the beating of a biggest drum on top of tent canvas! But our amazing tent held up fantastically. Not a drop of water came in, which we can't say for many of the other campers, who were stuffing the dryer machines with pillows and sleeping bags the next morning.

Naptime still went down without a hitch. I just waited until Benjamin couldn't keep his eyes open, and then he laid down in his playpen without a peep. And he slept through every night. We may actually have the answer how for why he hasn't slept as well. The temperature dropped to about 14 C each night, which wasn't a problem for the boys with their sleeping bags, but all I had for James and I were bedsheets. I shivered the first night, my toes and nose freezing. I worried for Benjamin, who refuses to use blankets of any kind (he throws them off of his body and then out of the crib!) and for whom I hadn't brought anything really warm. The first night he slept in a t-shirt and pj pants. The second and third nights I put him in a long sleeve t-shirt. When I woke in the middle of the night (habit!) I felt his skin, but even though my own nose was freezing to the touch, his was warm as can be! I guess he pumps out an incredible amount of heat. And because "they" always say to dress your baby in an additional layer to what you are wearing, and to always keep the baby's room warm (ie: don't turn down the temp at night), there is a good possibility he doesn't sleep well because he's too hot!

At any rate, the whole trip was a lot of fun. The boys enjoyed the freedom that comes from camping (getting to go places on their own) and I enjoyed letting them all run around without constantly hovering over them. Benjamin was in his glory in the outdoors, and they have all begged me to book another trip soon.


Mom said...

I LOVE KOA campgrounds - they have so much to offer and they have nice warm showers which are a MUST for me. :-) I love that everything is clean and I agree with you that it's nice that everything is close to the tent/trailer sites. I can't wait for us to buy a trailer here and get camping. They have campgrounds over here like KOAs called Big 4 Holiday Parks which we are going to try. I am so thrilled that you love camping so much - Dad and I both loved camping when we were growing up and loved camping with you girls when you were growing up. It's so wonderful seeing you raising your boys in this way - and it's a great way for the family to bond. :-)

Jenn said...

You are a brave lady, camping with the three of them! I invariably do a day or two without Steve while we are camping, but it's the set up and the tear down that I find the hardest without an extra set of hands to wrangle the kids. (Mind you, I also MAY go overboard with tarps and laundry lines and hammocks, and the like!)

Where is this KOA? I see the beauty of the KOA's - they are so clean and chalk full of kids. We did one last year on Labour day weekend in one of their "Kabins," which turned out to be a great idea because it was miserable all weekend. The one we went to was just north of Barrie and really great. I'm hoping we can hit a lot of them on our cross country journey!

Terri-Ann said...

Jenn - this campground is the one in Milton, right off the 400 at 89. (Nice and close!) The one downside is that there was sort of this low hum of the traffic all the time. Eventually it just sort of sounded like the ocean, but there isn't the dead quiet like at a provincial park. That being said, I think most KOAs are located right on highways as a convenience thing.

And yes, setting up and taking down an 8 man tent ain't easy, but you get creative. Colin is old enough to hold something up, even though I have to do most of the balancing and pulling myself.

We tried the cabin with our trip earlier in July. They were lovely, although a little on the expensive side, for camping. Much easier to move in and out of, though, and much more comfortable!