You guys...camping with kids is like the craziest adventure anyone can really do. I mean...come on...somehow get all four girls asleep in one small living space each night is no special feat, especially when it comes to our kids because they are naturally LOUD! But we succeeded, and we had a lot of fun while doing it.
We decided to go camping at the beginning of October because the weather in Arkansas had cooled enough that it would be comfortable at night, and we planned it just right to go on a weekend where both girls didn't have soccer games. We didn't know, however, that Arkansas had recently established a no burn rule so when we arrived hungry and tired close to 8pm in the dark, we were surprised to see zero fires. I had only prepared meals to be cooked over a fire so I was immediately flustered because we didn't have a propane stove or any other way to cook the meals. I was hungry and cranky, and the kids were zonked because it was well past their bedtime so Tim and I tried to make the best of things and have the kids pick up sticks to build a "nest" for nearby animals while we struggled to get the tent up in the dark. We used our van headlights to help our feeble attempt, which was great until the battery died on the van. Can you feel the pressure mounting in your heart as I type? Reliving it again is just as terrible as it was that night, even though I admit I am finding myself smiling a bit more than I did that night.
Tim walked the campsite to locate anyone still awake (with no campfires allowed...everyone went to bed at 7pm I swear). While he searched, I packed the girls in the dark van and used my cell phone light to make some pretty lame, but rather delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner that night. Tim found someone after searching for awhile, and we jumped the van and went to bed immediately. We needed to end that terrible night before someone died, and if I remember correctly Elle actually fell over a wall that night because it was dark so dying was a real possibility. Never in my life did I think I'd have to warn kids not to fall over a wall, but everything is possible with Elle.
The rest of the weekend was so much better. We found the closest store 20 miles away and bought a propane stove and a hammock. A hammock is a must-have for camping with kids because it can double as a bed and a swing when needed. It gave our girls plenty to do. We also set up several games around our site and went on a 2 mile hike. Elle wanted to give up about 10 minutes into the hike, but with her sisters and Tim ahead, we trudged onward and upward, and we sang every nursery rhyme at least twice while we walked. I love the picture I snapped of me holding her hand on the trail because it brings back such peaceful memories of us jumping on rocks and avoiding branches while singing "Row, row, row your boat." The girl has a natural affection for all nursery rhymes and songs.
Also, as a total side note, but one that needs to be documented...the trail we took was called "Dam Mountain Trail." The moment Mya read it, she started laughing hysterically. "Mom, it's your favorite word. You're going to love this trail." Hahahahaha. Oh Mya, I love that you know me. And I love that you can read because that one still makes me grin.
Tim even rented a boat much to Genevieve's dismay. She hates most moving objects, especially boats. She cringed the whole time, and I just had to post the picture Tim snapped at her grumpy face because it makes me laugh so much. Mya and Elle loved it so we know all we have to do is convince V to get on board, and the rest of the girls will make it worth it.
I'm not going to lie about the trip; it wasn't the easiest. We encountered several unfortunate events, but we made it. I think it's important to bring enough age-appropriate games for the kids. We also brought books and music so we could read and dance when the mood was right. The kids also loved running around with sticks. What is it with kids and sticks?!! I think camping with kids is totally doable, and we are excited to do it again, but we will never go to a no-burn campsite again because it was so lame to go to bed at 7pm. And camping just isn't camping without a fire.