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It is undeniably hard work but tenting will create many memorable moments for your family. We replace our four walls with our plastic cabin - the Coleman eight man tent. Our minivan & cargo carrier are akin to Mary Poppins bag - even our friends are aghast at how much "things" they can store.
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The Essentials of Tenting
I have listed below what I feel are essential items for the avid camper. I have fine-tuned this over the last two summers and I am always learning from others. It is not exhaustive but it is pretty good if I do say so myself!
Tote with kitchen items such as:
Insulated cups with lids
Vegetable peeler/Tin opener/Bottle opener (Do not forget)/Sharp knife/scissors/wooden spoon/fish slicer
Kitchen paper/Tinfoil/Plastic wrap
Wash Basin/Washing up liquid/sponge/cloths/teacloths
Plastic Salad bowl & Servers
Two Cooler Boxes & Tote/Bags to store Dry Food:
Don’t forget your icepacks and buy ice when you arrive at your campground. It is worth the few dollars you will pay.
Salt and Pepper
Whatever you are going to cook for the tenting time and remember all the things you will need in order to cook it as you normally do.
Blow up mattress
Regular/Blow up pillows
The tote can be used to store water and hey presto your kids can play water games.
Buckets and Spades
Diapers/pull-ups/swimmers and wipes
Clothes and don’t forget pack extra!
Stove/Grill combo and portable BBQ with Gas Propane
Camping chairs/folding table and water container
Splitting Axe for logs and small axe for kindle/Fire sticks and you can generally buy wood on the campgrounds
Picnic Table cloth and grips
lantern for inside the tent and LED flashlights
Oh and don’t forget your tent……you might need it. We use a tarp under our tent. Additionally we bought heavy duty pins in Canadian tire to tie our tent down. You will need a tool to remove these from the ground.
The Challenges & Tips To Overcome
Our first camping experience was two summers ago. Our three kids ranged in age from 3 ¾ to just
six months old and I was still expressing! As D-day loomed I realized what I
had agreed to do and questioned my sanity for the millionth time. How was I going to express my baby’s milk and
how in God’s name was I going to sterilize his bottles?! When we arrived to the campground our great
friends had already pitched their spare tent for us, little halos shone
brightly over their heads. I wanted to
kiss their feet but I am not that into feet!
Their friends had a trailer with full power which meant that our
problems were solved. An extension cord
meandered from their trailer to our plastic cabin and viola a life sustaining
liquid was produced. We had a really
amazing experience that weekend and it made us thirsty for more.
On our second camping trip which took place in June 2014 I
packed sleeping bags for the kids and a quilt for myself and my hubby. It was a beautiful day but boy did it get
cold that night. As my husband was
outside socializing at the fire pit I was indoors or within the plastic
sheeting using my three kids as human shields from the cold. I had one on top of me and one on either side
and I was still cold! I knew then I needed to fatten them up a tad. I kindly left my husband a kids Diego
Sleeping bag. Even as I write this over
twelve months later, the memories of watching him trying to get into it are
making me crease with laughter. I can
now admit that I was going to ask my husband to drive us home to the comforts
of our home and the plan was to drive back in the early hours of the following morning
before anyone would get up and our secret would be safe. I decided to battle the elements. You learn from your mistakes. I now pack sleeping bags and a duvet cover
for Mommy and Daddy and all kids have very warm sleeping bags in addition to
hats and gloves. We will never be cold
I could get lost in a circle as they say. I am 100% geographically challenged, even so
in a camp site. I find that when I go
camping my bladder starts to speed up and I have to go to the loo very
regularly. That’s ok at home but on a
campsite, it’s not quite the same. On
one of our trips last year my friend accompanied me to the smelly pit, I mean
toilet and on our way back under the dark sky we laughed and joked about our
day. Suddenly we came to a dead end on
the road. Ahem where in God’s name where
we? We had passed our site unbeknownst
to ourselves but in the black dark with a giant torch which emitted a tiny bit
of light, it was a tad scary. Luckily my
husband had seen us continue our walk from the fire pit and rescued us. We have now invested in high tech LED torches
which could light up a stadium and I pay attention to where our site is
Learn from my mistakes, be careful what you watch on Netflix
before you camp. I recommend that you
DON’T watch Great Crimes and Trials before embarking on a journey. You won’t feel too safe as you sleep with a
piece of plastic separating you and all the ghastly things which you have added
to your mind. Additionally it will not
make those regular trips to the toilet any more pleasant.
Bring plenty of clothing for you and your kids. My youngest contracted the Rotavirus last
year, we were camping and he kept vomiting.
It was horrible. We didn’t
realize how ill he was as I had taken him to the doctor the morning we left and
the Doctor told me it was probably “viral”!
On a recent camping trip I was in much need
of a shower! No AC in our plastic cabin and the sun was creating temperatures
in the early 30’s. Off I skipped with my washbag in hand. Warm water trickling
over my amazing body (couldn't resist) ….shoot....double shoot I forgot my towel!!
Argh!!!! Clever little goddess that I am I improvised with a ......face cloth.
So absorbent. Note to self! Ensure to bring a body sized face cloth next
time!!!!! Learn from my lunacy.
One of our favourite destinations so far is Whistler
Campground in Jasper National park. As
we drive through the gates of this amazing National Park I feel the weight of
the world has lifted off my shoulders and I can’t get enough of the beauty of
the Rocky Mountains. I love it. We have seen mountain goats, squirrels
aplenty, Moose, Deer and Elk and unfortunately on our recent return home we saw
a bear cub who had been knocked down.
This is not the way I had wanted to see a Canadian Bear. I kept thinking about that poor Momma Bear
searching for her cub.
Spray Parks & Playgrounds
Prior to having my kids I spent a fair chunk of my life in
a Pub. I’m Irish and we have a very
strong bond with “the Local”. Pregnancy
changed that love affair and my new BFF was a bubble bath. Kids came along and now I am living the dream
driving to the local playgrounds in the Minivan. If your kids are anything like mine, all they
want in this great world of ours is a playground. If you take them to a Spray
Park, they may actually explode with happiness.
When you go camping ensure you have one or the other or better still
BOTH. On a recent trip to West cove in
St. Paul my kids informed me that the highlight of their trip was the Spray
Park. To be perfectly honest, I was very
happy to see it as it was a weekend where temperatures soared in the 30’s.
Fire Pit Conversations
Ah the fire pit to me is now the new pub. My husband and I love the pit. He likes to poke it and I like to sit by it
with a drink in hand solving world problems.
Even better add a few friends and the hours fly by and before you know
it it is 3:30 in the morning and you are still up (you won’t get away with this
in every campground).
We tend to go camping with one other family and generally
the duration is two nights. We take one
night’s supper and leave supper for evening number two to our rival chefs. It is a great way of getting a break but also
learning from others and showcasing your culinary skills. Up until recently we have a Coleman
Grill/burner. We just bought a portable
BBQ which was half price in Canadian Tire.
It will be well used.
You will need a lot of “stuff” for camping. My advice is to keep an eye out for sales
especially in Canadian Tire. This is
where we have bought a lot of our camping equipment in addition to Costco. Join local Facebook Buy and Sell groups and
attend Garage sales and of course don’t forget good old Kijiji.
I recently joked with my husband about the time he spent on
positioning our palace. I am a "let’s get
it up pronto" kind of girl. My husband
stood in the forest working out his longitude and latitude and after careful and
time-consuming consideration our weekend home was pitched. In fairness to him we didn’t die from heat
exhaustion the next morning, it was positioned perfectly. Unfortunately as with all our camp trips, the
AC never quite kicks in, no idea why?
We love camping and it is such a
reasonable way of spending your summers (average site costs about $30 a night)
and you are creating so many happy memories for your kids and you. I have
really enjoyed writing this blog and I want to say Happy Camping to you all.
Never a dull moment in my house
& keep sane!
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