The full moon rose over the hill as we finished setting up our tent on the Pack 360 hill at CVO. It was perfect and magical. We would have never seen it at home. There were so many moments like that while we were camping. I am grateful for them all, but I still hate camping.
Its definitely getting better though. I invested in an air mattress and a 0* sleeping bag and I slept toasty and comfortably all night long. We have kicked Connor out of our tent and he has his own now, which freed up some space in our tent. We planned ahead and set reasonable expectations for the weekend. Last time we camped I lost a kid, there was a wind storm and the baby pooped up her back. That was the baseline. No lost kids and broken lips and our trip would be considered a success.
We kind of cheated this time. My mom stayed home with Eleanor and a bottle-fed kitten for the weekend. Last time it was the 2 year old who got lost, this time the 2 year old had to stay home.
Friday night we arrived a tad later than planned, but we still got a good parking spot. Connor was responsible for hauling his own gear and setting up his tent himself. Having a 10 year old along and not having a 2 year old really did help things. The kids truly were able to haul, set, sort, and lift all of our gear. We did remember our tarp for under the tent. We also brought a sun shade and 6 camp chairs so the following day would leave me sun-free. Friday night was a simple meal of corn dogs and mac n cheese. It was perfect for my picky kids. We had a small campfire and s'mores. Then we hauled our food back down the hill to the car so it was "bear-safe".
Connor and Joe slept together and laughed long into the night. It was annoying for me who was too-tired, but I love that he is creating these great memories with his best buddy.
Saturday morning Connor and Joe were up giggling before dawn. When you are camping with 60 other families when one person wakes up, everyone wakes up. We had a morning fire - lots of instruction from lots of scout leaders about appropriate fire usage for the kids. What a great opportunity for them. Lainy Ann volunteered to walk down the hill to the car and retrieve our food for the day. The truth is she was looking for the Pop-Tarts. At 10 years old it was the first time she had every eaten Pop Tarts. Breakfast was very good - or I was very hungry - grilled cheese omelets sausage, hot chocolate, and a croissant.
I had decided to park myself in the shade between the Rocket Field, the craft tables, and the BB Gun range. So we did. We had brought along our large shade structure and some paracord for bracelets. I had snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray. Even Pack 319 came over to make paracord bracelets and visit. The only thing we were missing was a sign that said "Pack 360". The children were allowed to do anything they wanted with relatively little supervision. Buddy-system was imperative. At one point a stranger "returned" Alexander because he was lost and went on a hike with another pack. I panicked for a bit thinking of what had happened the previous year. Turns out that William was also on the hike and he was staying together with his buddy. He was crying on the way back to us because he was supposed to stay with William. What a good little guy! I gave him an extra squirt of kool-aid in his water.
By noon the children were head to toe filthy with bright red stains on their lips from staying hydrated with kool-aid and fruit punch. They were sticky and gross from sunscreen and bug spray. And they were happy.
The afternoon was spent watching rockets shoot into the air and fall to the ground. We made more paracord bracelets, visited with friends, stayed in the shade and let the kids get even dirtier. Their favorite activity was box hockey, which as far as I can tell is a box, sticks, a puck and dirt. Lots of dirt.
Connor and Joe decided to "whittle" which just means using their pocket knives to make sticks sharp. Boys. We had lots of talks about using our knives properly and not losing them.
As dinner approached I had a mini-break down. I really can't handle the sensory issues of filth and stickyness of sunscreen. I needed a cold Pepis and there was none for 15 miles. The kids needed to be washed down, but they wouldn't stay near me long enough to find them all to clean them and then get them into uniform for dinner and campfire. Caskey was hitting his limit as well and wasn't very helpful. But my village came through. I took a few minutes in the tent to wash myself down, our friends moved all the chairs to the campfire, Caskey found the kids and scrubbed the ring of dirt in Alexander's neck that I was sure was permanent. We force-fed the kids a meal of cordon bleu. Yum.
The sunset and the songs began. My savior appeared carrying a Pepsi and I watched the campfire program with the other scout families. Lainy Ann had organized a group of 8-10 kids to perform "invisible bench". I am still really proud of her for coming up with the idea on her own, finding the group to perform with and even rehearsing. Then at the last minute she had to make a substitution. It all came off without a hitch.
I fell into bed earlier than the previous night. Connor and Joe didn't stay up talking all night and I knew that in less than 12 hours I would be home. Sunday morning we broke down our camp. We hauled tents, sleeping bags, and bags to the car. Connor was much less excited about packing up than he was about setting up. We all worked together as everyone got packed up.
A/C and a bug free environment plus a cold drink from drive-thru made me feeling almost human as we arrived home. The children stripped naked in the laundry room and were bathed and in jammies by 1 pm. Our camping trip was a success.
Successes: Great shade, hat, powdered lemonade to keep everyone hydrated. Great new sleeping gear for me.
Next Time: I should have hung my solar shower and bathed the kids. I would have felt better. I also should have brought along 2 or 3 Pepsi's in a cooler. We don't currently have a cooler and we opted not to buy one since we had to purchase a new tent and sleeping bag.
All in all it was a success. I would prefer not to take Eleanor camping until she is 4+. Next Rocket Academy will be even better as the kids get older and become more independent. I love love love camping with friends who know my weaknesses and strengths, who will take my kids on a hike and sit in our shade and make bracelets with us. We all bring something different to the group, including love and support so moms are able to camp without spouses.