Outdoor Education: Introducing Camping Skills


outdoor education campingGeorge’s school has parent-teacher conferences Friday, therefore he has no school.  My husband has a paper or two to write, as well as several to read this weekend.  The weather has been nice lately, so I though I would take the kids to a local park to go camping.  I could ‘rough it’ a bit with them, allowing them to learn different skills without my husband being focused on, well, having to focus and be comfortable.  The weather is not too hot nor too cold at this moment.  We may do some winter camping this year, but I am going to hold off on saying for sure one way or the other.

Okay, perhaps ‘roughing it’ is pretty overstated.  We will still have a tent, a lantern, fire starters, maybe even a camping stove.  I plan to take the cooler and flashlights, and a shower house will be nearby.  It isn’t like we are hiking into a national forest … we will work up that.  🙂

So, tonight (Wednesday) I figured I should go online to make sure the campground is not full or such.  I felt silly doing it, as this particular campground is often more empty than full.  Turns out it was a good move.  Two sites were available for reservation!  Hmm.  Not exactly the solitude I thought we would have.  Okay.  Plan B … what is Plan B?  I asked myself the same question.  Seems I was a bit too confident that others would not like camping in this weather.

After deciding to go to another campground a bit further away, and looking at some details on their website, I realized the problem.  This is the last weekend many of these campgrounds are open.  My timing could have been worse, I could have waited another weekend and found most of them closed. 🙂

Plan B, as it stands right now, entails me telling the boys tomorrow afternoon what the plans are for the weekend.  Then we will get things together. And yes, it is going to be ‘we’ not ‘me’.

  • I will help them pack their own bags.
  • We will put together their own mess kits.
  • We will gather and load all the other supplies into the car.
  • Then we will pick up the house to leave it in good shape.

Friday we will head out right after my P-T conference and drive to the campground.  If all goes well some of the first-come-first-serve sites will still be open.  If not, then on to Plan C – find some reserve-able sites that are not reserved yet or look at one of the other local campgrounds. I will take that info with me just in case.

Once we get a site, camp needs to be set up:

  • The kids will help set up the tent.
  • They can unload their stuff and arrange it inside the tent.
  • Camping chairs need to be set up.
  • Firewood will be stacked outside the car?

I am thinking we will not take our bikes this weekend as it may be fairly crowded.  Though, there is a trail they might be able to ride on … I need to sleep on this one.

red bicycle

Once things are arranged at camp, a trip to the visitor’s center and a trail hike will be in order.  This is a great opportunity to reinforce some of the geography/map reading skills we have been working on, as well as nature study which I have been slacking on.  George will love getting to participate in the ‘home school field trip’ … sometimes it is all about the marketing.

Other plans for the weekend are:

  • An area-wide singing time at a local church Saturday afternoon.
  • Putting together and cooking meals.
  • Making banana boats for dessert; one of the kids does not like s’mores.
  • Star gazing.
  • Reading around the fire.
  • Story telling.
  • Singing/teaching camp songs.
  • Knot tying?
  • … and other activities I need to remind myself of in the Girl Scout materials I used to use to teach other adults this stuff.  Wow, that seems almost to have been a different life.

night sky stars

I am hoping the theme for the weekend will help them stay focused and regulated.  This is the first time I am going to take them camping by myself.  We usually meet up with my parents to go camping.  While we normally sleep in a tent, my parents sleep in their camper and have more of the things that make it nicer to be living outside for a spell.

They also have years of experience doing this, so can often help us avoid certain pit falls.  Though I do remember a camping trip as a kid where tent poles were forgotten.  We got pup tents out of that trip.  Another trip held a week of constant rain for us.  There was not much we could do, but were glad for the air mattresses under out sleeping bags, as it kept us out of the nightly river that ran through the tent.  The lesson from both of these?  Take things as they come and do not get bent out of shape.  You can deal with almost anything for a few days.

AND just in case, always know where the local hospital is.  That was lesson learned on a different trip, but I will spare you the details.

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