Kris took a course in high school on survival camping where they weren't allowed to start fires (destroyed the environment) and had to pee on rocks (so wildlife wouldn't be encouraged to eat vegetation they wouldn't otherwise eat).
So, we did things by the book. Bought a new tent, and set it up in our yard. Made a list, checked out a few websites for food (we should have looked for equipment, too, but you know, we managed) and left with the knowledge we could turn around or get a hotel where we were going if it turned into a total disaster.
I wanted to go to a Jellystone Campground. I've always wanted to go to one, ever since I was a kid and this was the perfect opportunity since I was doing the choosing. They have multiple campgrounds and the one I wanted to go to was booked by the time we were ready to schedule, so we booked the one up in Mears, Michigan at the Silver Lake / Sand Dunes, where my mother had been just a few weeks prior, as it turned out, so Joshua was thrilled with the location.
I prepped the boys with the few YouTube videos I could find for Yogi Bear that were not Adult Swim and were in English. They had to know who we were going to see, after all. In fact, while we were there, we managed to catch a wagon ride with none other than Boo Boo.
Sebastian was a bit scared of the big guy, so we didn't try to catch the other wagons with the other characters. Yogi and Cindy would drive through the campground, though, in the afternoon, so Joshua got to run after them a few times and wave.
The site was nice, near the end of a one way loop. For a family campground, it was amazingly quiet during quiet hours from 11pm to 7am. Of course, during the day people were all over the place and probably as exhausted as we were, but that's for another post.
(Our picnic table - Yogi didn't steal our food, but from what I understand, Kris stole some dinosaur eggs for breakfast the first morning, and the dinosaurs followed us our whole trip after that. Thank goodness they weren't angry birds ...)
The bathrooms weren't anything to write home about, but they had hot water. The best part about them was their location right next to the pool. After we came back from our activities during the day, we could swim and then go directly from the pool to the shower and head back to camp for the evening, for our campfire and some card playing while daddy made dinner.
It became very clear, very quickly on the first night that bedtime had to be a family affair when the boys played the night away while Kris and I waited for the fire to die down. We had brought the Harry Potter book I'd been reading to the boys and we would get through a chapter each night, then settle in for sleep. The boys shared a mattress with their new sleeping bags and would cuddle as they slept. I didn't quite catch that, but I got something close. :)
Overall, camping was a great experience, though a little stressful for our poor two year old. Though, any vacation at his age is stressful, so I wouldn't attribute that entirely to camping. We definitely plan to do it again, and even to increase our camping stock so we can be a bit more prepared for, say, rain during mealtime for example. (No pavilion for the picnic table.) That being said, camping is also cheap, even at a campground like Jellystone, as compared to staying in a hotel.
And you get a fire. That you get to poke with a stick. That you get to roast marshmallows over. For smores. :D
Do you camp? Any suggestions or ideas for us newbies? Favorite campgrounds? Best bathrooms? I want to know it all!
(I'll update here with links to the other posts about this trip as they are written.)