Though camping is a popular summer activity in the lovely state of Oregon, it had been three years since my last camping trip. Why? Because I became a mother. For the last two summers, camping wasn’t on my radar, even though I admired the adventurous spirit of the woman in my postpartum yoga class who took her newborn camping in Yellowstone. My parents have always been adventurous as well, and they took me camping the first summer after I was born (end result: a trip to the ER after I toddled over to the campfire grate and gashed my forehead).
I still thought it might be a few years before we took MJ camping, but my husband thought we needed a cheap weekend getaway and suggested we give it a try for one night. Which is how we found ourselves camping on Labor Day weekend at Honeyman State Park on the Oregon Coast. Honeyman is a massive campground, so we spent the evening in close proximity to several hundred other families and their (exceptionally well-behaved) dogs.
We prepared MJ for this trip by watching an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood where he goes camping in his backyard. She was very excited to play in the tent.
The tent kept her entertained for quite awhile. We grabbed some pizza for dinner in Florence, followed by blackberry ice cream in Old Town. Then back to our tent for more play time and a campfire. I was fairly terrified of open flames around a 2-year-old, but she sat in my lap and watched the fire for about 5 minutes before heading back to the tent.
Overall, camping with MJ was an astounding success! She had fun and there were no trips to the emergency room. Hurray! She did get scared when I turned off the flashlight at bedtime and she realized it was not a game and we were actually going to sleep in the tent. And then there was the moment when she woke up in the still silence of 3 am and started screaming at the top of her lungs. Spencer had left to use the bathroom and I began to panic as I thought of the several hundred other families nearby. “Please stop, please stop,” I whispered. After about 5 minutes Spencer came back and had the presence of mind to hold her and soothe her, and she fell back asleep. Sorry camping neighbors! She doesn’t normally do that.
The next day she would tell the story this way: “I was screaming and Mama said ‘Stop! Stop!’ And then Dada feel me better.”
Aside from the tent, I think MJ’s favorite part of our trip was playing at the beach. This was her third trip to the beach this year, and she loves the ocean. I have to hold her hand so she doesn’t jump in and get completely soaked.
Have you gone camping with a toddler or infant? How was your experience?