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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summertime Means Family Camping And Star-Gazing

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The Lees crew at Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland
I don’t know about you, but where we live in suburbia light pollution mutes an otherwise star-filled night sky.  So when we camp as a family, we’re also looking for nature’s nightlife.  I’ve talked about night creatures on the blog before.  This time I want to tell you about another phenomenon of nightlife.

We journeyed to the heart of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.  We discovered scooped-out bays in Rocky Harbour.  Sunbaked, puffy, bread-loaf rocks tucked into an already worn-down coastline dotted with weathered logs.  Purple heather danced in the salty breeze on a hillside as forested mountains slipped into the sea. Yet the rock formations and coastline weren’t the only interesting aspects of Newfoundland.  The nights held wonder as well.

After a full day of hiking, then the feeding of a family of seven, tired as we were, we lugged blankets down to Deer Lake.  It seemed like only minutes before the night sky was awash with milk.  There were so many stars that it was difficult to pick out some of the constellations from our star chart that we always keep on hand during camping trips. 

We could have stared up at the night sky forever, but the children needed to go to bed.  The good news was that our camper was right by the lake, so after tucking the children in, my husband and I returned to the beach.  Couple time can be important, when camping with the family, a relaxing time to enjoy each other’s company and have uninterrupted conversation.  However, this time something miraculous happened.

As we were talking, as the night sky dazzled, it suddenly began to breathe.  Trapping our own breath, gazing upward, we watched spellbound.  An undulating curtain of rose and mint green—sheer as it was—muted the milky night drop.  We had never seen anything like it.  We didn’t learn until the next morning what it was.  We were at the camp store and the locals were talking about the aurora borealis last night.   

Our children gave us strict orders to wrench them out of bed if we ever see anything unique again.  The ephemeral nature of an aurora borealis is truly spellbinding.  We were unable to move to get the children at that time, hence we pretty much slept on the beach for the rest of the week, hoping for another aurora borealis.  Unfortunately, we never saw another one during our time in Newfoundland.    
 
One of the best reasons to camp with the family, aside from intimate time with each other, is time spent away from an otherwise electronic world.  So when you camp this summer, don’t forget to take a few moments in the evening and look up into the night sky to be amazed.  Have you ever seen an aurora borealis?