Mothers of Adventure: Camping 101 for moms

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travel in camp, mother and two children sitting around on straw bale beside balefire, mom and kids communicate near bonfire, young family in background tents and trees, family weekend in forest

By Bradley Robertson
For the Opelika
Observer

Let me start by telling you that I camped for the first time, solo, with my kids just last week. I am 38 years old and have only camped with my kids one other time in their lives, and that was seven years ago. I did not grow up camping, and as of today, I have slept in a tent twice.
I’m also here to tell you it’s easy, it’s basic and you will not regret it.
I’m a mom on a mission to adventure with my kids, whatever it takes. I want to take the path less traveled with them, to learn and grow and experience this beautiful world together.
My children are young and resourceful and playful and brilliant. I want to create a journey with my kids and embrace this fleeting thing called time.
First: camping is basic skills we already know as mothers:

  1. Keep them safe
  2. Feed them
  3. Cloth them
  4. Give them a shelter
    We KNOW this ladies! This is our playing field every day. If any human on earth can camp with kids, it is us. WE are the safety nets and ring leaders in our home. Why not just pull the same tricks outside too?
    Second: Camping is easier now than it has ever been.
    There are apps and unique tools and pop-up tents and hello to the cell phone GPS! We have all the help and assistance we need at our fingertips, or at the local Academy Sports store. Camping has become the “thing” so the resources out there are top of the line.
    Third: I am a legit scaredy-cat when it comes to actually sleeping in the tent. I act all cool and easy going for my kids. They have to believe I know all the things. In reality, I’m scared to death. I dream of snakes and baby bears and I spend most of the night in prayer. But the good Lord is there, and the sun comes up and I have camped and slept side by side with my 3 little loves. We rise and shine and cook breakfast over a fire, and it is well with my soul.
    This Summer, we are traveling all over Alabama exploring, adventuring and seeing what all our big world has to offer, right in our own backyard. It’s going to be crazy, because that’s how we roll. It’s going to be messy, that’s ok, we’ll be outside. Kids will cry, but don’t they at home? I will mess up, I do that anyways. This is the reality of adventure. Into the great unknown but learning and growing together.
    I looked up the word adventure to get a visual on what I was aiming for… Adventure – an exciting experience that’s typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. Adventures may be activities with some potential for danger such as traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting or extreme sports. Thanks Wikipedia, nailed it!
    But you know what this definition reminded me of? A mother. Every single word.
    Who has had a child jump deliriously off a surface as if they were superman? Skyding.
    Whose child has climbed up a ladder, out of a crib, up the stairs, when they were way too young?
    Mountain climbing.
    I have pulled many a child out of a swimming pool because they thought they were a fish. Scuba Diving.
    Mothering is an extreme sport. We are the mother of all adventure!
    I am talking us all up here, or maybe just me. We were made to mother them inside, outside, rain or shine. In the woods, on a cliff, rivers and lakes, bugs and tents. We are equipped to lead them, anywhere.
    What I want is to create something amazing and unforgettable for us. I want us to get off the beaten path and into the great wide open and show our kids what being a mother is all about, them.
    Talking with them, learning from them, drawing near to them, escaping with them, climbing with them, getting dirty with them, cooking with them, training them to think. Reaching for things we would have never reached for. So that one day they will believe and know, they can reach for whatever in the world their heart desires.
    So here’s Mom Camping 101. Simple and functional.
  5. Destination: start close to home. Maybe your backyard or a local state park. Maybe a 2 hour trip, but only stay one night. Just get your feet wet a little at the time. Learn the ropes of camping close to home to grasp the rhythm and build confidence.
  6. Food: plan what they already like. If it’s PB&J, done. If it’s all snack food and fruit and bologna sandwiches, done. Start where you feel comfortable. We started with Sloppy Joe’s. Easy and my kids favorite. We did a lot of snacking and sandwiches too.
  7. Tent: they have nice family tents that are pretty much already put together, you just have to pop it up. Get the kids to help. They think this part is so cool. It is something to learn, but after a few times, you get the hang of it.
  8. Everyone needs a chair and sleeping bag. Makes everything go smoother. Air mattress or mat are better for adults but not necessary for kids.
  9. Pack minimally: you and the kids don’t need a lot. A couple changes clothes, swimsuit if needed. Nothing fancy, just play wear.
  10. ALWAYS bugspray. Do not forget this. My personal favorite is REPEL: Lemon Eucalyptus
  11. Do not aim high and have any real expectations. This is new for everyone. Relax, have fun and just do the next best thing. Set a few goals but love the journey even if you don’t meet them all.
  12. Let the kids help in all planning and process. (of course, if they are old enough.) Ask them what they want to eat. What color of camp chair? What activity would you enjoy? Let them cook, let them clean up, let them help build the fire. Let them learn and let them be dirty.
  13. Make sure you have coffee. Instant coffee. You do not want to mess this up. I can skimp on a lot but not on my coffee. Practice before hand to be sure it’s just right.
  14. Laugh and smile and play and get dirty and swim and bike and do all the things. Behave as if this is second nature to you. Allow the kids to believe that you know ALL about this, because you do.
    You are a mother!

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