I did not grow up in a family of campers, but I have always loved the outdoors. Lucky for me my parents found a way that I could enjoy camping while they stayed in the comfort of their own beds. I spent my summers on YMCA campouts led by caring enthusiastic volunteers who loved to camp. These adventures were my first introduction to camping in California’s diverse state parks. I had the chance to visit
As a mom I want to give my kids the gift of similiar experiences. I know that time spent in the outdoors will help them to learn and grow in ways that I will never truly understand. I want them to learn how to be self sufficient, to set up their own tents and cook their own food. Even though it is uncomfortable and exhausting for us to sleep together tucked in a single tent, I want them to have that experience as well. Frankly, I want them to be able to sleep anywhere under any conditions so that some day they can travel the world learning about other cultures points of view without always staying in the most comfortable American based hotels.
In theory, this is what I want for my family. In practice camping can be very tough, especially with a little one who thrives on routine and enjoys the unique smell of his own mattress as he lulls himself to sleep. That’s how I found myself in a tent in the middle of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Parkwith two wailing children wondering if my commitment to giving my kids camping experiences was worth it. At the time I had my doubts, but with the benefit of hindsight it was worth every moment of adversity. Here are a few of the high points of camping alone with kids:
Justin, my oldest showed off the amazing skills he has gained through his involvement with Boy Scouts. He lit all the campfires and set up our tent. He loaded up a heavy backpack and headed out on a hike. He was a shoulder to cry on when things got tough.
We spent our first night camping with my amazing friend Joellen and her two kids. It was the first camping experience for the three of them. My kids had so much fun sharing their wealth of camping knowledge.
The boys roasted hot dogs and the girls cuddled with their stuffed animals in the tent.
I had the chance to see that Gabriel, Justin’s best friend from kindergarten had grown into a young man. The two boys headed off for a hike in the redwoods with Gabriel’s dad. Gabriel’s mom helped keep Destiny entertained as I talked Jared down from a post nap tantrum.
Joellen and I took a long “big kid hike” with one four year old, two five year olds, one six year old, and one eleven year old. We survived thanks to walking sticks, snacks, and a sense of humor.
Will I go again? You bet! Joellen and I are already planning a campout for summer 2011 and we are inviting more friends to join us. But here’s a thing, with the budget chaos here in California local state parks like Henry Cowell may not be open for camping adventures in 2011. If you live in California you can make a difference by voting yes on Proposition 21. Not only will you keep state park campgrounds open for camping adventures, you will also get unlimited day use parking at most Calfornia State Parks. Now that’s a travel bargain!
Family Adventure Guidebooks is so excited to be participating in the Trekaroo Spotlight Thursday Blog Roundup,
P.S. My friend at Go Explore Nature has a great post up about birdwatching at
Tags: California State Parks, Camping in Henry Cowell State Park, Family Travel, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz California, Save Our State Parks, Trekaroo Spotlight Thursday, Yes on Propostion 21