Family anecdotes, camping tips, how-tos, hiking with children, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Five Kids

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

--Victoria Marie Lees

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Victoria Marie Lees [dot] Com is Live


Hello Dear Readers of Camping with Five Kids!

My new website is live. Please visit to find a new post entitled: “The Call of the Mountains in Summer.” Enjoy our excitement in climbing mountains to discover their hidden treasures. 

All future Camping with Five Kids blog posts will be at Thank you for always reading of our adventures camping with children. Have a beautiful day!
The Colorado Rockies in summer!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

My New Website Will Be Up Soon!

Hello Friends of Camping with Five Kids! 

My website will be up later this month, August 2021. Please look for a new post entitled, “The Call of the Mountains in Summer” coming soon at
Yosemite Valley, California, U.S.A.

Thank you so much for reading my camping adventures and commenting on the posts. I wish you all a beautiful summer. Stay safe! And remember, you can continue to follow my camping adventures at later in August.  

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Do You Prefer the Beach or the Mountains?

Friends, I am developing a website through hover: I’m hoping to have the site live by August 2021. My Camping with Five Kids blog will be located at as will my Adventures in Writing blog. One site to find Victoria Marie Lees and all her adventures and writing endeavors. Thank you for your support! And now for July 2021’s blog post. 

Summer is upon us here in the northern hemisphere. So, I thought I’d pose a question this month. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains for summer vacation? 

Through the years, the Lees Troops have visited mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and yes, ocean beaches. And we’ve enjoyed each one for their own beautiful qualities. I thought I’d share some photos. 

Can you body surf in the waves of the ocean? I can’t. My kids and husband can! I just tumble in the waves and end up with pounds of sand in my bathing suit!
Tidal pools at Point NJ

Our favorite beach haunt is Stone Harbor, New Jersey. From building sand castles to body surfing, to wading into tidal pools at the point of the island, we’ve enjoyed years of endless memoirs.   

We’ve visited the Pacific coast, too. Their sand is more granular and thick. But the children could still build sand castles. The water’s colder though. We mostly stayed on the beach like everyone else.
California sand

We visited Canada’s eastern coast and traipsed all over Peggy’s Cove and the rounded rocks.
Peggy's Cove

We enjoyed the high and low tides of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, and walked among the “flower pot” rocks of the Atlantic Ocean floor.
Bay of Fundy

Maine has its own beauty and cold Atlantic Ocean. We visited Acadia National Park and took the ocean trail. What looks like crumbling desert rock borders the frigid Atlantic here. 

While the sun sets over the bay on the Atlantic coast in the United States and Canada, the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean on a California beach. 

Washington state has its own beautiful Pacific coastline, as rocks and boulders dot a rugged coastline.
Washington St coast

If we move inland, the mountains have much to offer as well.

Mountains bring waterfalls and crystal-clear rivers and lakes. Some of which can be ice cold!
Yosemite National Park

But tannin-colored lakes and rivers run deep in forests and mountain areas as well.  

Both beach or bay and mountain streams and lakes offer fishermen delicious catch to eat, although I believe you can only go crabbing at the ocean or bay. 

You can go tubing down a rapid stream in the mountains or whitewater rafting down a wild river. We have done both. Several times!
Tubing in North Carolina

Horseback riding in the mountains can speed up a hike—especially an uphill one in which young children are in tow! 

I could go on forever! Both beach and mountains offer unique and fun things to do. We’ve filled scrapbooks and photo albums with fond memories. 

On the east coast, from boardwalk rides at the beach to jumping off cliff ledges into a wild river in the mountains, if you are looking for fun things to do as a family, both landscapes offer memories to treasure.
Ausable River, NY


Thanks so much for reading here at Camping with Five Kids! Please share whether you enjoy the beach or the mountains better for family vacations. Or maybe both, like us! If you prefer one over the other, why? There are no wrong answers here.  

Well, things seem to be opening up all around us. Let’s hope it continues and we have an end to this quarantining and mask-wearing. I’m ready to hit the state and national parks with no restrictions. How about you? Happy summer!


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Afternoons at Joseph M. McDade Trail in Pennsylvania

Things are starting to open up in Pennsylvania; restaurants, churches, and state parks. If you are vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask. Yay for our state!

The Delaware River has a quiet but beautiful hiking trail along its banks on the Pennsylvania side, just north of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Joseph M. McDade Trail is a little over 31 miles long. 

This past week, we spent a few afternoons hiking McDade and noticed how spring has dressed the trees and flowers in thick foliage that can sometimes crowd our view of the mountains and river.

On this wide, gravel trail, we passed crop fields draped in cut stubble, perhaps fallow for the year or only the present time. The Delaware races by in whitecaps and swirls in some places and merely wrinkles in others. The water is clear and blue up here in the Pocono Mountains. Across the way, the muddy banks along New Jersey appear rustic and lush through our leafy windows. 

Among the more colorful birds we saw and heard along the Delaware; the red-winged blackbird darted into some tall grass along the banks. A few yellow American Goldfinches zipped from tree to tree. The ruddy-colored Brown Thrasher made an appearance on the lawn by some picnic tables.

Fishermen tell me there are trout and bass in the Delaware at this point, and if they are large enough, you can keep them. Canoes and kayaks glide in the sun-dappled river. Small motor craft cause whitewater tails. There are businesses who drop off rafting groups at different times of the day. Picnic tables dot a few places.

You can ride bikes along the McDade Trail and we plan to do exactly that…once we get a bike rack for our hatchback Subaru.

There are many places to park along the winding length of this trail. Most all are free. But you do need to pay for parking at Smithfield Beach Trailhead. You can launch boats from here, and it looks like you can wade into the river, too.

Thanks so much for reading here at Camping with Five Kids! Please share some fun things that you and your family do in nature. Let’s hope the quarantine will end and all our state and national parks will open with no restrictions for the enjoyment of the whole family.  All best to you!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Spring: In Search of Open Trails

Spring, glorious spring, has come to our little piece of the world. And we are ready to find open trails to hike. The key word in that sentence is “open.” This pandemic has been tough on everyone. Such an understatement! I know. COVID has indeed touched our family; from our oldest daughter being exposed at work and bringing it home, to my husband actually experiencing symptoms. These fevers and lack of appetite and energy are too scary for words!
Still snow atop Camelback.

So yes, after all our quarantining, the family is ready for some fresh air and hiking. We start local, with short hikes. Recently, we visited Big Pocono State Park at the summit of Camelback Mountain in northeastern Pennsylvania in Tannersville.  

We drove up and up the winding roads to the mountaintop parking. What a view! The Delaware Water Gap sits along the Eastern horizon, with the Wind Gap further south. Portions of the New Jersey mountains can be seen northeast of the Delaware Water Gap. The New York Catskills can be seen northeast from where you’re standing on top of Big Pocono State Park.
Delaware Water Gap

We trekked along the Rim Road Nature Walk first for a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. This walk is along the one-way drive just below the top of the mountain. We picked up a Rim Road Nature Walk guide located in a plexiglass box at the top of the mountain. This numbered guide provided information about trees and shrubs and wildlife along the walk. We are always looking to learn something new!  

And then we research on our own. The Pocono Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountain chain that runs along North America’s eastern coast from Newfoundland to about Alabama in the United States. They are fold mountains that have been eroding for millions of years according to the National Geographic Society.

Another wonderful thing about Big Pocono State Park. It’s a great place to watch the sunset.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Picnic areas are available. The air is fresh. The views are awesome. It’s a free park. Enjoy!

Thanks so much for reading here at Camping with Five Kids! Please share some fun things that you and your family do in nature. Let’s hope this spring the quarantine will end and all our state and national parks will open with no restrictions for the enjoyment of the whole family.  All best to you!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Looking for Eagles in Pennsylvania

The eagles have come to nest again by the Brodhead Creek in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. When our neighbor told us this news, we became excited. Sunshine filled a powder blue sky. Trees no longer swayed in the wind. The snow stood stiff on the ground. A perfect, calm day to see eagles.

Our daughter was visiting with her boys; a two-year-old and a one-month-old. Her two-year-old got excited to see the “big birdie.” So off we went to the Brodhead Creek Heritage Center at 1539 Cherry Lane Road in East Stroudsburg, a truly fascinating place to explore. 

Our two-year-old grandson had seen smaller bird nests in smaller trees on our walks in his neighborhood. But I wanted him to understand that this would be different. So on the short drive to the heritage center, I tried to explain to him that big birdies live way up high in trees.

He said: “uh-huh.” 

“We need to use binoculars to see the birds.” I showed him the binoculars.

He said: “uh-huh.”

“Big birds need big sticks to make a big nest in the tops of tall trees.” 

He said: “uh-huh.” 

There! I felt competent that my philosophical conversation with my grandson was understood.
I looped them under his hood.

We needed to walk down the path a bit to be able to see the tree with the nest in it. My husband and daughter, with the little one tucked in an infant carrier, started down the path.

I tried to follow, but our grandson wanted to hold the binoculars. Fine. I gave him the binoculars. They dangled to his knees and made him pitch forward because of the weight.


“I’ll carry them and you can…” 

“No, no, no!” He screamed.
Hard to walk this way! 
Nearby water birds took flight from the pond.

“Okay, okay, hold them up.”

He did.


He decided to look through them while he walked. 

He couldn’t stay on the path. My job was to get him to the open field to look up into the pine trees to see the nest.  

Have you ever tried to get something from a two-year-old? It’s impossible, especially when the thing is looped under his hood!
The nest is in that tree!

I shouldn’t have thrown out the binoculars that didn’t quite line up any more from my own son’s adventures. 

We finally had to take the binoculars from our poor grandson so we could see the nest. Tears nearly froze to his little cheeks. 

We adults looked quickly through the binoculars. Saw that no one appeared to be home in the big nest, it was early afternoon, and returned the binoculars to our grandson, who seemed to be hyperventilating.
The nest seems empty.

Immediately, his breathing returned to normal. I dried his face. He looked through the binoculars as he walked on a little farther. Then he got tired of them and handed them to me.

The tip for this post? Bring a second pair of binoculars if you want to see something in peace. We just purchased a smaller pair that won’t tip over our grandchildren.

Thanks for reading here at Camping with Five Kids! Please share some fun things that you and your family do in nature. Let’s hope this spring the quarantine will end and all our state and national parks will open with no restrictions for the enjoyment of the whole family.  All best to you!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Artists – Choose Your Medium

I am always in awe of artists. The color, the canvas, the medium. The talent. I wanted my family to appreciate art as well. Oh, we’ve enjoyed the art museums in the cities. We would go on Sundays when we could pay as a group. All pre-pandemic, of course. It’s true. Everyone can be an art critic at times. But I wanted to instill in my children a love for the creative ideas of others.
Fingers as paint brush!

Perhaps it worked. My grandson loves his fingerpaints on paper plates. With deft little fingers, he mixes the colors he asks his Auntie to squirt on the plate for him. The little guy even finds a good canvas for the leftover paint—his arms!
He looks a little blue!
My daughter decorates
our home!

His mother, on the other hand, enjoys a more refined canvas for her paintings. She mixes her palette and uses a unique brush stroke to create fabulous work. Okay, it’s true. I’m a little prejudice. What do you think?
My daughter captures

Talk about unique artwork, wintertime brings an ephemeral type of medium for artists to use. Ice! Our family visited Historic Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania during Winterfest to see the beautiful ice sculptures in and around Main Street. Each year they have a theme. This year it was the Stroudsburg Ice Safari.  

Clear-as-glass ice animals abound! Talent. Skill. To be able to carve sheer ice! These artists are amazing! We saw a warthog and toucan, a peacock and cheetah, an African elephant and giraffe—all in front of shops, restaurants and businesses, at Courthouse Square at the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, and beside the “Snowmen of Stroudsburg,” another art form that appears in town from November to February.
Courthouse Square
Ice Sculptures.

These artistic snowmen are life-sized, a basic three-ball-tier snowmen. Then various artists create different and unique motifs for each one. I’m not sure if each snowman is actually painted individually with pictures or if it is a decorated coating cover over the white body.

The snowmen are located all over Historic Stroudsburg and have different themes. We saw “Pocono Joe” dressed in fishing gear; vest, fishing hat, pole—even a fishing box. There was a scarecrow—Jack—with a straw hat and crows on his arms, a sunflowers-and-summer-fun decorated snowman, and even a wintertime kids-fun decorated snowman.
Snowmen and ice 
sculptures around 

At downtown Stroudsburg, there were art galleries to visit and specialty shops and restaurants. Truly a fun afternoon! 

Thanks for reading here at Camping with Five Kids! Please share some fun things that go on in your town or near you that are tied to wintertime. Let’s hope 2021will be the year that the quarantine will end and all our state and national parks will open with no restrictions for the enjoyment of the whole family.  All best to you!