Each year, our family camping trip brings with it feelings of anticipation and excitement! The kids are all excited to sleep in the tent, see their friends, and visit the “beach” (at the lake).
It’s a trip I’ve been going on almost every year since I was 8 with our local homeschool group. So the feelings of nostalgia are strong, and keep pulling me to keep going back year after year. ….even while 7 months pregnant.
Even my husband enjoys it! He looks forward to the inevitable volleyball tournament and organizing a team built to win. He might just be a little competitive….
In the days leading up to our camping trip, we start making our lists and pulling out our supplies. Since I went into how I prepare for our camping trip in the Camping Survival Guide post, I’m not going to repeat that here.
The more organized I keep everything, the easier it is to find when we need it. Since we’re blessed to be going at the same time as a whole group of our friends, there are a few things that we are able to borrow that we can’t bring ourselves. …like a ladder. It’s completely necessary for tying a tarp above the site in anticipation of any rain that might fall. A wet campsite is no fun at all.
But I digress….
The first day of our trip the kids are bouncing with excitement. The car is loaded by my husband who is a genius at loading up vehicles, and we’re on our way.
But first a pit stop to Lowe’s and Walmart. There were a few things that we planned to get on our way out – ice for the cooler, rope, and propane for the stove. Then there was the cooler we ended up needing, but hadn’t originally planned on getting.
As we’re leaving, there are already texts between myself and two of my sisters asking about when we’re leaving and ETA. While one of them ended up getting there before us with her family, my other sister, along with my dad and younger siblings, were going to have a similar ETA.
Just as we were cresting the hill before our exit, we saw them. Dad and the kids in the van, pulling the camper behind them. Then we past them, and the kids waved, and the excitement just continued to build.
On getting to the campground, we first had to complete the necessary registrations and check-ins before we can go back to our site. It didn’t take long, and we were soon at the site ready to unload.
My sister and brother-in-law were there before us. Since they had their campsite up, they and another friend, helped us with ours. While the tent is usually relatively easy, it takes a few strong men to help get that tarp up and tied to trees. Then help with the actual tent is an added bonus with kids running around.
By the time camp was set up it was time to make dinner. For our first night I had planned on hot dogs. So we got a fire going and the kids had fun cooking their hot dogs while trying to not burn them.
The rest of the evening was spent making sure everything was situated and homey while the kids ran back and forth between the campsites with their cousins. Every so often, we’d call hello to friends we’d see walking by, and chat for a bit if they came down to say hi.
Then it was our turn. We went out and walked the loop a bit. I got side-tracked talking with a friend while the others continued without me. Then we all ended up talking at another campsite where it seemed like many of our friends were gathering anyways.
Since it was the 4th of July, fireworks were going to be set off over the lake. A short hike to the peninsula gave us a nice view. The water reflected the bursts of color in the sky, while everyone oohed and aahed.
The kids were nearly falling asleep on the walk back to our campsite. Once they were safely tucked in, we spent a couple more hours around the fire with family before turning in ourselves.
The next morning, I was pleased to find that I had woken up earlier than the kiddos and could spend a few minutes of the morning quiet in prayer. This was quickly followed by watching the crazy antics of some squirrels throwing acorns all over the place!
However, it wasn’t long before everyone else started waking up and our day truly began.
Bagels were toasted over the fire and then smothered in cream cheese. Coffee was retrieved from my sister’s neighboring campsite – yes part of our plan this year was shamelessly mooching coffee off of a family member.
The rest of the morning was full of kids running around, walks around the loop and the anticipation of going to “the beach.”
PB&J’s were made for lunch and eaten. Then everyone got changed into bathing suits and slathered on the sunscreen. The shade in the campground was refreshing, but the sun hitting the sand would be HOT.
The kids splashed around in the lake for a good 2 – 3 hours with their cousins and friends. John was awesome and made sure everyone stayed safe. I was able to go about and chat while also coming back to watch the kids’ antics.
No one wanted to leave the water, but we finally convinced them to come back to the campsite for a snack.
Not long after, we drove over to another loop where my parents had their camper set up and to make dinner there. This thing has air-conditioning, so it was a welcome relief. Dinner was made and eaten, then I spent some time cooling off inside.
A few of John’s brothers arrived while I was in the camper, and they headed over to the other loop ahead of us.
At this point the facts start to get jumbled in my brain – I was pretty tired. Another one of my sisters had arrived and set up her site across the loop road, and I was able to put the toddler to bed at his regular nap time while the kids were with John and my sisters.
John’s parents also joined us that night, so we all hung out at my sister’s site that evening laughing and enjoying each other’s company. The ranger may or may not have had to come by to tell us to keep it down a little once it was after quiet hours. …oops!
The third morning found me nearly falling off our deflating air mattress, so once again I went out a little earlier. Virginia happened to be awake already this morning as well, so both of us watched the antics of the squirrels.
Honestly, this morning was a bit more difficult for me. I was already really achy and was anticipating having the kids while John played in the volleyball tournament, and the need to get our campsite down. This ended in me having a bit of a panic attack.
This is why I advised in my last post about not being afraid to ask for or accept help. Both John and my sister came to the rescue and took the older boys to the beach with them while I kept the toddler with me, and Virginia went to play with a friend.
This gave me some time to get a few things at the campsite put away before taking Virginia over to the beach to join her brothers.
Once she was safely there, I headed over to my parent’s site to get out of the heat. There I was able to chat with my mom while my dad took Matthew on a walk to the beach.
The volleyball tournament and my dad’s walk got cut short as a thunderstorm started rolling in. However, it was still going to be a little while before the rain actually hit.
We made our way back to the campsites where my sister had already fed the kids lunch. The thunder kept on at various intervals to the point where we realized that the volleyball tournament wouldn’t be resuming, so everyone got started taking the campsites down before the storm hit.
It was a team effort on all parts. Finally, the last items were placed in the van just as the first drops were beginning to fall. ….and then it poured.
Traditionally, we get together for Mass with the rest of the homeschool group at one of the campsites. The rain had started only about an hour before Mass was to begin, so there was some concern about whether or not it would actually be able to take place. Miraculously, the rain subsided and we were able to have Mass. It did start raining again for a little bit in the middle of Mass, but not nearly to the extent that it had before.
Then Mass was over, and it was time to go home. Good-byes were said, everyone loaded up in the van and car, and we were on our way.
We ordered pizza and Chinese for dinner and picked it up on our way home. A stress-free way to end the weekend.
What were the highlights from your vacation this summer? Please share in the comments!
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