Last weekend Sarah and I took the dog and the kids camping at Blue Mound State Park. We made the reservation for a campsite in April and the kids were really excited to go. After getting a new, bigger tent; a new air mattress; and taking a dry run for a night in the back yard, everything seemed to be set.
We made a (long) checklist of things we needed, spent days gathering them up and testing them, and then packed the van. Sarah and I hadn't been camping since before Garrison was born so much of our camping gear was dusty (after going through house renovations) and scattered all over the basement. However, after some effort we got it all together and hit the road.
It didn't augur well when we forgot a loaf of bread (a key ingredient for a dish Sarah wanted to make); got lost in the town of Blue Mounds (a difficult task, I assure you); and found our reserved campsite to be the smallest, sunniest site in the campground. We drove back to the entrance and asked for another campsite. That one had water running across the tent pad (we've had a lot of rain lately) and several inches of standing water in the fire pit. We then asked for a third campsite and got one the absolute farthest from the campsite entrance. However, it turned out to be a decent campsite. Being so far from the entrance meant that we got little to no traffic. We had just a couple of relatively distant neighbors, and those were generally quiet. Given the rains we've experienced of late I had concerns that there would be legions of mosquitoes but they didn't get bad until sundown. All in all, the environment wasn't as horrible as it could have been.
We had beans and franks for dinner, which the kids enjoyed. We then roasted marshmallows over a fire and had s'mores. There was a sing-along in one of the park picnic areas so we dropped in and sang some old favorites. The kids weren't terribly enthused about that, but they enjoyed staying up late and swinging on the swings on a nearby playground. It was the night of the summer solstice so we had sunlight until well after 21:00. When the sun went down it was time to head back to camp and get into bed.
Everyone got ready and we were all in bed by 22:00. For some reason, the kids' air mattress deflated during the night; they didn't seem to mind.
In the morning we got up, had breakfast, and started taking down our campsite. Our original plan had been to stay two nights but the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening and neither of us was sure what to do with two little kids in a tent during a rain storm predicted to last most of the afternoon. Plus packing up wet tents and the like is always a bummer so we decided to go home and leave on a good note.
My mom drove out to meet us (the park is only about 30 minutes from the west side of Madison) so she joined us on our hike up to the observation towers at the top of the hill. Sarah, my mom, and the kids then went swimming in the pool while I took Dalla for a hike and chatted with another dad from Madison who was watching his dog while the rest of his family swam in the pool.
The kids had been really excited to go camping before the trip and I'm not sure this trip did anything to temper their enthusiasm. Several times, and completely apropos of nothing, Dinah said, "We can come back here again" or "We should come back to this campsite again." Garrison was disappointed that he "only got one night of camping" and also wanted to come back to the same campsite again. In addition, they've been improvising tents all over the house in the aftermath of the trip. So we're clearly going to be doing more camping in the future if the kids have anything to say about it.
I did put some pictures of the kids on our camping trip in my picture gallery on Flickr.