This past weekend we went camping for the first time! Jeremiah and I took the boys. Jeremiah’s dad (Pop) also came with his wife (Nanny) and their granddaughter, Nadia (NaNa). I took off work Friday, which was the first time I’ve taken off work for something besides someone being sick in Lord knows how long. So, I was already excited! Jeremiah woke me up around 5:00AM saying, “It’s caaamping day!” He’s not a morning person, so to see his excitement made it even more fun. Jeremiah had to work for a few hours, and I had many things to get ready and pack. The boys were NOT helpful. They spent the morning arguing, picking on each other, asking if it was time to go camping, and then whining about all of it. After a few hours of running around like crazy people and packing up what seemed like our entire house, we were finally ready to head to the camp grounds.
We went to Cotton Hill Campground. It was barely an hour away, which was a great benefit when traveling with small children. We rented two RV spots that were connected to each other, even though we were sleeping in tents. The main reason we did this is so that we would have water and power available at our sites. Primitive camping with preschoolers would be quite messy. Our camp site was perfect. While other camp sites did not have much privacy in relation to other camp sites, ours was offset a bit and had trees to give our site a sense of seclusion. Our site was perfectly shaded, which helped made the 90-degree high bearable. In front of our camp site was a good 40 yards or so of full-sun, grassy, flat ground and then the lake, or rather, the slew. This gave the kiddos plenty of room to play. We were also a short one-minute walk from the bathrooms, which came in quite handy!
After taking about an hour to set-up, the boys got their first fishing poles baited and started fishing, or something like that. They did get good at casting, for 5 and 3. However, it was like a mini slasher film as they ran around with their fishing poles and loose hooks flip flopping everywhere. Later that evening, we cooked hamburgers on the grill and had chips, salsa, and guacamole. As it started getting dark, we realized we didn’t really think about what we were going to do for light around the camp site at night. So, we started a fire then struggled with holding all the ingredients for s’mores, roasting sticks, and flashlights at the same time. The s’mores were enjoyed by all regardless of the struggle we went through to make them. That night the boys were excited to sleep in a tent. The entire afternoon they asked if it was time to go to sleep in the tent yet. We thought that excitement would wear off once reality set in, but they did amazing. William fell off the air mattress four different times, but it didn’t wake him up. I just scooted him back on by tugging hard on his sleeping bag, and he was none the wiser. William and I slept on an air mattress. Jeremiah and Wesley slept on the ground, covered by an egg-crate and their sleeping bags. I have no idea how, but they both loved it and slept great.
The next morning, I woke up to birds. They weren’t chirping. It was more like squawking. I didn’t dare exit the tent, in fear that I would prematurely wake up the boys. About an hour later, they began shuffling around and they were full blast from there. For breakfast, I heated up breakfast burritos on our portable stove that William and I had made the night before. They were delicious. I recommend them to anyone going camping. (I’ve included my recipe at the bottom of this post!) After breakfast, Jeremiah and his dad went on the boat fishing. So, Nanny, NaNa, the boys, and I made a 15-minute trek to the park. The park was small, but a lot of fun for the kids. It had a huge, metal slide and a merry-go-round. They had never been on a merry-go-round before, so they spent most of the time there. The park was beside a small beach with a swimming area, and the kids wanted to swim! So, we walked back to the camp site and had lunch while waiting on the men to get in from fishing. They only caught three catfish, but they were big enough to cook up and have with our dinner that night! Throughout the day we noticed our slew had a couple of alligators. We enjoyed trying to spot them every so often and watch where they moved. After lunch, we walked back to the park, clothed in swimsuits, and let the kids swim. Even though the water was still a bit cold, they had a blast and even found some new friends to play football with. When they tired out, we went back to the camp site, had showers, and got ready for dinner. That night we had steak, sliced potatoes and onions, and fried the fish the guys caught earlier. Dinner was followed by s’mores. This time they were made before dark, so it was a bit easier. After dark, we sat by the fire talking and making jiffy pop. Worn slam out, Wheels fell asleep in my lap. Not long after that we all decided it was bed time!
Everyone slept hard that night. The sun and activities wore everyone out. The next morning Jeremiah and Pop took all the kids on a boat ride to do a little fishing, and Nanny and I packed up the tents and cleaned up. We made one last effort to go swimming before we checked out, but it was windy, which made the water too cold and the kids were totally over it. With pink cheeks and shoulders, we left around lunch, and the boys were asleep before we made it out of the camp ground.
We had a great time. The boys did so much better than we expected. They didn’t ask for TV or tablets once, which made us proud. They kept themselves entertained, were adventurous, and open to trying new things. For the parents, camping was A LOT of work. So, we were worn out, but very happy with the experience and new memories. We may not want to do it all the time, but we talked about doing it again and trying new camp grounds.
Let me know if you have any tips or advice for the next time we take a camping trip!
Breakfast burrito recipe:
2 cups frozen hash browns
8oz. cooked, cubed ham
12 eggs lightly stirred
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
I heated a drizzle of oil on medium-high heat and poured in the hash browns. After 1-2 minutes I added the cubed ham and turned the heat down just a touch. I stirred occasionally until the hash browns and ham were lightly browned, about 8 minutes. While those were cooking, I added the taco seasoning to the eggs. Once the hash browns and ham were browned, I poured in the eggs and let sit for a few minutes until they begin to firm up, then stirred until fully cooked. I then added salt and pepper to taste and stirred in the cheese until mostly melted. After the mixture was ready, I heated the tortillas between damp paper towels for 30 seconds. I then filled 7 tortillas and wrapped up like a burrito, which I googled how to do because my burritos always fall apart. Apparently, I was missing one seemingly unimportant step, but once I added that into my fold, they looked like professional burritos! I wrapped them in tin foil, put them in a large zip lock bag, and threw them in the cooler! When I was ready to cook them, I tossed them on the portable stove, but they easily could have been done over a fire. I turned them every few minutes for about 10-15 minutes. They turned out great, were super easy, and were a huge hit with the kids. The recipe is very kid friendly. If they were only for adults, I think it would be yummy to add an onion or green pepper!