We decided to go camping this past weekend.  We have a big camping trip coming up, and wanted to get our feet “wet” for family camping this season.  We knew that camping with 4 kids 4 and under would be a bit of a challenge, so I am very thankful we decided to do this little trial run before we jumped in and did a bigger trip. 
I spent Thursday and Friday packing and preparing.  We drove about 45 minutes to the campsite, near a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains.  We got out of the car to discover 35 mile per hour sustained winds, with higher gusts.  Setting up our new 6 man tent was a challenge to say the least!
The tents (a friend stayed in the little one, and ours was the big one)

The tents (a friend stayed in the little one, and ours was the big one)

M happened to be standing beside the tent at one point when a wind gust picked it up and flipped it onto its side (before we got it staked into the ground).  We didn’t realize how traumatized she was until later, when we discovered she couldn’t sleep due to an inconsolable fear that the wind would pick the tent up with her in it and blow it away. 
The kids just played while we set up camp.

The kids just played while we set up camp.

M had a great time playing on the boulders surrounding the campsite

M had a great time playing on the boulders surrounding the campsite

Our first night was a long one.  Between the howling wind, flapping tent, airmattresses all going flat, and M scared to go to sleep, S and I didn’t sleep at all until after 1 or so in the morning.  S had the bright idea to give M earplugs to help silence the sound of the wind.  This helped tremendously, and although a large gust would shake the tent enough to wake her, as long as I kept my hand on her, she would fall back asleep.  JR and A slept soundly throughout this whole ordeal.  N slept well until about 4:30, when he hit a light sleep phase and made lots of little noises in his sleep such that S and I were again unable to sleep.  Then, around 5:30, A woke with the rising of the sun.  Having had a wonderful nights sleep, he was raring to go.  We made the mistake of just having him sleep on a pallette on the floor rather than containing him somehow, which meant, once he was awake, he could crawl around the tent and ensure everyone else was awake too! 
The next morning was still pretty windy, so breakfast was a bit difficult to prepare.  We were trying to figure activity we could do with all the kids since the cold wind had ruined our plans, and decided to go feed some ducks down at the lake.  While there, someone told us about a program going on nearby where kids could become “Jr. Park Rangers.”   This sounded perfect, so we went. 
JR and M learning about desert wildlife.

JR and M learning about desert wildlife.

I couldn't believe JR was actually willing to let this gopher snake crawl up his arm!  He used to be afraid of such things.

I couldn't believe JR was actually willing to let this gopher snake crawl up his arm! He used to be afraid of such things.

 

Learning about (and recreating) desert wildlife sounds.

Learning about (and recreating) desert wildlife sounds.

JR and M got to actually control the fire hose, learning how to adjust the spray, turn it on and off, and aim.  They also got to try on the fire gear, pretend to drive the truck, and JR was taken back to the control panel and got to help control the flow of water through the fire hoses.

JR and M got to actually control the fire hose, learning how to adjust the spray, turn it on and off, and aim. They also got to try on the fire gear, pretend to drive the truck, and JR was taken back to the control panel and got to help control the flow of water through the fire hoses.

They got to explore the Park Ranger patrol truck, talk on the loudspeaker, learn about water conservation, and do many other activities.  Finally, they earned their Jr. Park Ranger badges!  We then returned to camp to find the winds had died down to a calm breeze.  After lunch and a good nap for all of us, S and the kids went down to the lake and actually played in the water.  Considering the water was probably around 65 degrees, I was very surprised that they stayed as long as they did.  I guess the desire to play in water can overcome the cold and discomfort!  Even Will got in on the action, playing frisbee and swimming until he was ready to collapse!
After swimming, we went back to the campsite, and the kids played while we adults worked on dinner.
A had his own fun playing with the bucket.  Now that he is learning to walk, he is developing a reputation for hitting his head on everything, so perhaps he is trying out head protection here?

A had his own fun playing with the bucket. Now that he is learning to walk, he is developing a reputation for hitting his head on everything, so perhaps he is trying out head protection here?

What do get when you put 2 kids wet from recently swimming into an ashy firepit? 2 unrecognizably dirty kids!  And no, our campground did not have showers, so they got a spongebath in the faucet!

What do get when 2 kids wet from recently swimming decide to play in an unused, ashy firepit? 2 unrecognizably dirty kids! And no, our campground did not have showers, so they got a spongebath in the faucet!

 After a delicious campfire burger dinner, smore roast, and clean up, the kids went to bed, and S and I got to take a moment to ourselves. 

Relaxing with the baby after an exhausting day.

Relaxing with the baby after an exhausting day.

 We had a wonderful night’s sleep that night, although A woke up around 5:45 raring to go again!  S was kind enough to let me sleep in a bit, so he started breakfast until I came out around 6:30.

M waking up on our last morning.  She loved those sleeping bags!

M waking up on our last morning. She loved those sleeping bags!

So there you have it.  An adventurous weekend of family camping with 4 young kids and a few unexpected surprises.  We had a great time, made some memories, took lots of photos, and are looking forward to our next trip (along with a few extra preparations and supplies)!
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