The big kiddos have spent one night out in the backyard in the tent with Daddy in the past, but when it came to packing, cooking, sleeping, and being away from home and outside quite literally all day long.... I'm gonna be honest that I was not really sure how it was going to go. I just knew that I was thankful that we would be there with friends and we'd be in it and enjoying it together.
As I packed the van up on Thursday, I had a new found respect for "backpackers." Even with passing my list through my simple and minimal check list, we still had a full trunk, and I removed a seat from our van. What happens when we go camping with 4 and don't have the luxury of removing that "extra" seat any longer?
.... And yes, we had an electric camp site so a few of our "essentials" included a coffee pot, griddle and the Instant Pot. One, I can't live without coffee, but it also provided us with hot water for washing dishes too which was nice. And you can't camp without pancake breakfast, and the Instant Pot made dinner the 2nd night easy peasy on a hot day.
Loaded up and ready-- the big kids and I were chatting about how Joel had no idea what camping was because he was too little understand where we were headed. Joel gave us quite the laugh as he continued to make a grumpy face and insist that "NO" he was not sleeping outside whenever I would ask him if he was excited to sleep outside.
I had no idea going into our trip that my phone would be so trippy only an hour and a half away from home, but apparently we were in the wilderness and it decided that it wanted nothing to do with it. Honestly, while it made me nervous should we or someone in my family have an emergency, it was also such a blessing to turn it off, unwind and be free for a few days.
Have no fear.... the pack and play was moved inside the tent for sleep. We didn't really make the baby sleep outside, but we did contain the baby while we did things like set up camp.
I asked the boys what their favorite part about camping was...
Leeland says that he loved roasting marshmallows and making s'mores.
Hayden says having fun with his friend Matthew and playing in the mud.
And the big boys and I guessed that if Joel could answer the question, he would say the freedom. He's the 3rd kiddo, so if we're really honest, he's very much "free range" as it is, but it doesn't get any better than running around barefoot outside all day doing whatever you please.
I spent nearly two days prepping and packing, the temperatures were unexpectedly high for April, setting up and taking down a tent was hard work, my 25 week pregnant self couldn't get all that comfortable on an air mattress in the heat at night, we had thunderstorms and lightning the first night, and we brought home an entire van full of laundry for me to work on.... BUT I had such a great time! The work was so worth it and I came home with a big smile on my face. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.... and while we have a little time before our 2nd trip will happen because of a new baby coming and all, I have to say that I'm super excited for another camping trip.
I now understand the appeal of camping-- I understand the relaxation because we can sit back and have no agenda. Three days of just being present together as a family and with our friends. Three days of yummy food, of kids running around making memories, of gathering together for 3 meals a day, of just being. Just simply being. Memories were made and even amongst the work and the little bit of chaos, there was still a great feeling of peace and rest. I could not be more thankful with how our first family camping trip went.