Experiences, anecdotes, tips, how-tos, hiking, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is like pitching a tent upside down. Both are bound to fill with laughter and raindrops.

--Victoria Marie

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don’t Want This Hug

Sequoia Nat'l Park
We love to camp at primitive campsites.  Okay, my husband and I love to camp at these non-electrical locales.  The children just put up with the fact that there is no pool or playground.  Without all the electricity, the brilliant stars fill the sky and the lightning bugs look like lace along the leafy edge of deciduous trees. 


Primitive campsites usually provide campers with “bear boxes” or places to hang food packs to keep uninvited guests from wandering into camp as “guests” can come in all sizes and strengths.  Bear boxes are strong, hinged, heavy metal boxes with a clamp or clip for security from hungry animals.  There can be one bear box for every two or three campsites.  As for hanging your own food pack, the campgrounds provide metal pole uprights with a line across the top.  Some campgrounds provide the rope and clips needed to hang your pack over the line.  Make sure you secure the rope to a pole or nearby tree. 


We were camping at a primitive campsite in Sequoia National Park in California and had just finished having a delicious dinner of roasted tube steaks [that’s what my husband calls hot dogs so that I’ll eat them] and were contemplating whether or not we wished to wait before having s’mores when we heard screaming coming from the campsite on the knoll below ours.  Even in the early twilight, we could see him.  A mature black bear had wandered into their tent campsite and the woman was trying to get into her car, which is what you should do, as the man banged pots together to frighten it away. 


Our children scrambled into the tent trailer like chicks hiding under the mother hen.  My husband hopped into the van and drove to the Rangers’ station in the campground to alert them of the bear’s presence.  The rangers came out to the camp site with a foghorn-type sounding device which frightened the bear away. 


Needless to say, the children didn’t want any s’mores that night and refused to brush their teeth at the bathroom located down by the people’s tent.       


Make no mistake.  A hungry bear can shred a tent or tent trailer easily to get at the food it smells.  To be safe, the park rangers told us to keep all food in airtight containers or packaging and use the bear boxes provided.  Also, be sure to leave a clean tent/trailer area.  Place all trash—especially food packaging—in a dumpster at night and before leaving your site for the day.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Uninvited Dinner Guest

When camping in nature, you need to be ready for any uninvited guests who might drop by.  Oftentimes they invite themselves to dinner.

Back when it was just the five of us camping and my son was a baby, we went to Highpoint State Park in northern New Jersey.  At this point, we were still getting the children used to camping, with all the bugs around and dinner taking hours to cook on a two-burner camp stove where only one burner really works. 

Well, the smell of hot dogs called to more than just my girls.  A large buck came tromping right up to our Coleman stove.  Even my scream didn’t startle him.  It startled my husband and children in the tent.  The five-year-old unzipped the door and came out.

“Freeze,” I told her.

“It’s a reindeer!”

 “Yes,” I said, go back into the tent.

My husband shouted from the tent windows:  “Bang pots together!”

Right!  The pots that were on the picnic table, beyond the deer.  Right.

The deer wouldn’t back up from me and the stove.  So I turned off the stove and took the dog pot with me to the picnic table.  The deer followed.  I put the pot down and picked up an empty pot and lid.  I clanged them together at the deer.  He just looked at me as if to say, could you please move so that I can get a hot dog.   


By this time, my husband had come out of the trailer with a squeaky toy and started squeaking from a distance behind the deer.  I continued banging the pot from the front.  The deer’s body flinched.  His ears started twitching.  His tail flipped.  He lowered his head and I thought I would be sick.  But he stayed rooted in his position. 

My husband and I continued our assault on the peacefulness of nature and finally the deer gave up on the prospect of having a nice quiet hot dog meal and left.  I couldn’t carry the pot back to the stove; I was shaking so much, so my husband finished cooking the hot dogs. 

We ate in the tent instead of at the picnic table, all sitting on the floor, cross-legged, telling stories.  This was before our new camper with the indoor kitchenette and tables.

It is NOT a good idea to feed the wild animals when camping.  Also, never dump cooking pot water into the environment around camp.  The smell of food lingers to wild animal senses and draws the animals into camp.  Always wash cooking dishes at the sinks all campgrounds have available for this purpose.