A tent-camping adventure…

The sun shone as we headed northwest to Gull Lake for our first tent-camping experience with small children, a 3-day/3-night vacation only a few hours from home.  It was beautiful.  It was wonderful.  It was NOT restful (but what kind of tent-camping is restful with small children?).  We had no idea of the clouds that were in store…and that it would be wonderful fun anyway!

Canola fields – can you tell I love them?

Nap time.

Aliyah slept like a trooper.  As long as Mamie Giraffe is with us and she has a bottle of water along, it doesn’t matter where she sleeps; the tent was no exception.  Perhaps because we disturb her sleep every night and morning, she now sleeps like the dead and does not wake up to play at ridiculous times, for all Sara’s valiant efforts…

Mmm sticky goodness.

A beautiful boardwalk - a few moments later, she fell into a giant mud puddle. Too bad I didn't catch that on film!

In spite of a fairly chilly Friday night and an uncomfortable drizzle Saturday morning, we enjoyed a Saturday camping breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and mmmmm bacon, and then the sun shyly peeked through the clouds and let us in on a wonderful day.  After a VERY muddy playtime at the beach (again, photos missing – perhaps our co-camper has some good ones), we headed back to our site for a meal fit for kings: marinated barbecued steak, fire-roasted potatoes, mushrooms and onions pan-fried in butter and garlic salt, and a crunchy-fresh garden salad.  Little did we know what was brewing to the west!  We had only just finished dinner when the dark, pregnant-with-rain storm clouds broke over us with a blustering wind and torrential rain.  Scrambling to hide food, utensils, and anything else that might blow off to Oz, we grabbed our children and buried ourselves in our tents for the night.  Sara had a mass panic attack at the wind that whipped at our tent (I think the following lyrics from a children’s Bible song kind of got to her: “The foolish man built his house upon the sand/and the rains came tumbling down/and the house on the sand went SPLAT”) until we pulled out her first “paint with water” – a saving-grace-disguised-as-a-birthday-present.  After that we cozied up with books and songs and paints and colours until we all drifted into sleep.

Things to do of a stormy night...

Camping tips for those parents who would prefer not to resort to a DVD movie during family-nights-in-the-tent-in-a-crazy-storm:

  1. Bring a delectable children’s novel (older kids – can’t wait to bring Narnia!) to read aloud.  For small children, The Gruffalo does wonders.
  2. Include easy-to-pack and entertaining indoor toys: colouring books/crayons, those lace-cardboard combos, a couple small cars, perhaps finger puppets!
  3. Try to have a small arsenal of funny or interesting childhood stories to tell your children.  Note: try not to include stories about tents that fell down on your family.  It may entertain your child at other times, but not when the wind is knocking at your…ahem…cloth door.
  4. Sing camp songs!  Whether or not you can sing, very distracting for kids.  Especially if you have actions that make you seem really dorky and hilarious.
  5. Include a night light.  We had a battery-operated candle that was very comforting.

Yummy ice cream at the beach...

Contest: can you make the funniest caption? WHAT was he thinking?

Words cannot describe such cuteness...

Thank goodness for friends with whom we “shared” cooking – it was so helpful to have people around while we cooked and managed Aliyah’s meds somewhat simultaneously most nights.  All in all, a smashing success.  Can’t wait to go out again!

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