It has been weeks since my last camping trip with my Nuggets. So far, this summer, I’ve experienced three camping trips with them. Not bad for it being my first season camping with children. Although I don’t think we’ll make time for another camping trip this summer—yes, it is still summer—I’ll leave the possibility open just in case.
Although all three camping trips were one-nighters, I still consider them full camping trips because we packed up, drove somewhere, set up (even though I never actually set anything up…the benefits of having a baby to care for), and slept in nature.
The second camping trip was similar to the first one, minus the “worst idea ever” part. Josh, the Nuggets, and I camped out in Musch Camp again, and it went much smoother than the first. Z Nugg and I even got a short morning hike in before everyone else woke up.
Our third trip was farther out. Unfortunately, Josh couldn’t go with us due to work. Little Nugget, Z Nugg, and I drove north to El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara to join my sister and her family who had reserved a spot for a few nights. When I posted pictures of me camping with my Nuggets, I received comments like, “You’re brave!” However, there was no bravery to it. I did my best to clarify that although I had driven to the camp site alone, I had not done it alone. My sister, her family and friends had helped out so much! I don’t see myself being “brave” enough to camp on my own with two children until both of them are audible, walking steady, and fully potty-trained (seems like we might be ready for this soon at the rate Z Nugg is growing).
I feel so grateful for the opportunity I had and the time I made to experience camping with my Nuggets. I want them to grow up having the memories of dealing with 25 cent showers, horribly smelling clothes because of the bonfire, and the cuts, scrapes, bug bites, and sunburns that are sometimes inevitable when you are encompassed by nature.
Here are a few notes (you know how much I love notes) that I took down for our future camping trips. I hope they help some of you out.
Things I learned from camping this summer:
You can’t just show up and choose a camping spot wherever you want, whenever you want. Rookie move? Totally! Apparently—I say this with sarcasm in my voice—you have to reserve some of these spots months, and sometimes a whole year, in advance. This is partially why we went to Musch Camp again the second time. Musch Camp does not require reservations, and it’s small enough that not too many people know or want to camp there. Now, if you want to camp at the Sequoias, do your research! We got lucky enough that my brother-in-law had reserved the spot at “El Cap” a year in advance. We just tagged along.
Having an air mattress is a great idea if you have a baby. Not having an air mattress the first two times was torture for Z Nugg and me. Having the air mattress did not mean that Z Nugg actually slept—she’s a horrible camping sleeper—but at least she wasn’t slamming her head into the floor as she tossed and turned. I am grateful for my brother-in-law and sister who purchased one for us. It made a huge difference; again, not in how Z Nugg slept, but for her safety.
An overnight stay is good enough when you’re camping with a baby. At least, for me it was. These one-nighters served as great practice. I see us doing longer trips when Z Nugg is older. I found it exhausting having to constantly have her in my arms or in the stroller, and she didn’t like it much either. She wanted to get down, crawl, and feel the dirt in her hands…and mouth.
Fruit salad is good to have on hand. We buy a bunch of seasonal fruit, I cut it and mix it together in travel containers. This is easy to serve or eat straight out of the container. It is easy to store, and it is a healthier alternative to junk food. Another reason I like it is because Z Nugg could eat it. If there was nothing else she could safely chew (with two emerging teeth), at least I knew she could eat the fruit.
After-camping showers are the best. This is my favorite discovery. Sincerely, these showers are magical. Sure, I felt exhausted afterwards, but there is something therapeutic about standing under a shower head, rinsing and scrubbing off the dirt. I found it beautiful seeing the brown water heading for the drain as Z Nugg looked at me with puffy, tired eyes and a huge smile. Seeing the dirt under Little Nugget’s fingernails was proof that he had enjoyed Mother Nature. May sound gross to you, but I love it knowing it’s because we were indulging in the outdoors.
I look forward to experiencing and learning more with my little family, and sharing it with you, of course.
Cheers to enjoying nature with our loved ones!