Category Archives: Camping

Lake Glory Campground

Camping season is on!

Back in April, we did a trial run with our new camper, a Coleman Light 2855BH, but this Memorial Day weekend was our first official trip of the season. We camp annually at Lake Glory campground, which is part of Knoebels Amusement Resort.

Check out our weekend in the video below!

 

Camping: Packing all that Stuff!

Time to pack!

It won’t be long before we’ll be heading out for another camping trip, this time to Gettysburg, PA to tour the battlefields and museums. That means it’s almost time to pack.

Packing is one of my least favorite parts of traveling, so I wanted to streamline the process. We’ve managed to eliminate a lot of the stress that usually accompanies packing for a camping trip.  Here’s how:

Clothing: When we first started camping, we packed our clothing in duffel bags. By the second day of camping, everything I had carefully sorted and folded was a mess from little hands rummaging through the bags. I knew there had to be a better way.  I got the idea of using plastic drawers from the Pop-up Princess Blog (an invaluable resource to pop-up campers) and they’ve made packing and storing clothing so much easier. Each child has a chest of drawers for their clothing, diapers, and other small belongings. Jim and I share a set of drawers. When they’re not in use, they fit nicely in our bedroom closets. Now, everything stays organized and easy to find. Because we tend to pack the same things in the same drawers every time, we’re less likely to forget things. Once everyone is packed, the drawers fit nicely in the folded camper.

It looks like a lot, but it really only took me 30 minutes to pack all those drawers!

It looks like a lot, but it really only took me 30 minutes to pack all those drawers!

Toiletries are also packed in a smaller set of drawers. I pack them at the beginning of the camping season and leave everything in there so I don’t have to go around collecting everyone’s toothbrushes and shampoos each time. This container travels in the cab of the truck with us because too many items are sensitive to temperatures. It gets stored in the bathroom cabinet when not in use.

Linens are washed immediately following the previous camping trip and stored in re-purposed comforter bags that we keep in our linen closet. When it’s time to pack, all I have to do is grab the bags.

Shoes are packed separately a plastic bin. This is usually the last thing that gets packed because we’re using our shoes right up until we leave. The only shoes that stay packed permanently are our shower shoes.  Using a bin with a lid enables us to keep our shoes outside the camper without them getting damp in the morning dew. Keeping shoes in the camper is a no-no since it can make the small interior smell like feet.

Camping gear stays in the camper all the time. When we’re packing up at the end of a trip, we carefully clean and place things in the camper storage so we can easily access them when we get to our next camping destination. Being able to keep our gear in the camper has greatly diminished our packing time.

Swimming gear (towels, tubes, goggles, sunscreen) gets packed into the same bag I use for all our summer swimming trips. We throw it in the truck before we leave and it stays there until we’re ready to head to the pool. We just grab it and go!

Paper supplies are kept in a plastic bin that stays in the camper when not in use. Before each trip, I do a quick inventory and add any missing items to my grocery list.

Cooking Supplies are stored permanently in their own plastic chest of drawer that stays in the camper until we get to the campsite. That means we have to keep a separate set of everything (utensils, spices, etc.) for camping, but that’s not uncommon for people who camp a lot. We got most of our supplies from the dollar store. Larger items like pots and pans, as well as our coffee maker and toaster, are stored in the camper kitchenette.

Groceries, unfortunately, are the only items I haven’t managed to streamline when it comes to packing. Our system for food storage is still a work in progress.

We love camping, but we hate when it becomes a lot of work. By maintaining packing routines, I don’t have to re-invent the wheel each time we head of for a new adventure. It took us a while to get to this point, but now preparing for a trip is pretty easy.

Pictures from Gettysburg coming soon!

Pop-Up Camping with 3 Kids: How We Make It Work

It’s been a few years since this post, and since then we’ve grown into avid pop-up campers. Our little 1996 Palomino served us well, but this year we were able to upgrade to a slightly-less-old  2002 Coleman Carmel. We weren’t looking to upgrade to another pop-up (we have our sights set on larger, loftier travel trailers) but an amazingly priced opportunity presented itself so we went for it. Since we were also able to unload our old trailer for a decent price, the whole process ended up costing very little.

Our good old 1996 Palomino

Our good old 1996 Palomino

Carmel

Our new-to-us 2002 Coleman Carmel

Most pop-up campers are designed to sleep up to 6 people, but that would be really crowded. Fortunately, we only have 5. We’ve managed to make camping work for us in our little pop-up while still affording ourselves the luxuries we like to include in our “glamping” experiences.

Sometimes it amazes me that we can all sleep on the same small place and not keep each other up all night. Maybe it’s the fresh air, but our kids usually sleep better when we’re camping than they do at home. Here’s how we do it:

The older two kids:

9yo and 4yo both sleep on the double-sized bed. I was worried they would pick at each other all night or wake each other in the early morning. To avoid conflict, we decided to have them sleep in sleeping bags on top of a comforter. This works well for two reasons: 1) they aren’t sharing bedding so there’s no fighting over blankets and 2) we can have them sleep facing opposite directions so it appears as though they each have their own end. This has worked really well and has elicited no complaints from either of them. We’ve found it’s best to put 4yo to bed first and have 9yo sneak into bed once he’s asleep.

BigBeds

The baby:

1yo is still sleeping in a crib at home, so we need to use the pack-n-play whenever we travel. The only place to put it is on the dinette bed. When 4yo was an infant, we tried putting it in the bunk end but it was far too hard to lift him in and out from that height.  1yo sleeps really well in the pack-n-play as long as we put her to bed before the other two. To keep cool breezes and light to a minimum, we attach blankets to the exposed sides. One day I may make cute curtains for the sides, but if I wait long enough she’ll be sleeping in a bed and I won’t need to.

BabyBed

If the morning is cold or rainy, it takes 30 seconds to lift the pack-n-play onto the older kids’ bed and assemble the dinette for breakfast, puzzles, or a competitive game of UNO.

Dinette

Us:

Our bed is easy. We topped it with a memory foam mattress pad because all camper mattresses were made by the Flinstones.  Then, I simply make the bed like I would anywhere else. We have no complaints.

GrownUpBed

There’s no more work getting our beds ready in the camper than there would be in a tent. Maybe even less, since we don’t have to blow them up first!

We’ve already camped twice this summer and we have another trip planned in a couple weeks. It’s become a wonderful way to make memories with our children.

DSC_0502

Phone-free Weekend

This past weekend, we went camping at a state park less than two hours from our home.  I love camping.  It’s a chance to get away from the hectic pace of life, it’s an opportunity to spend time with family, and it’s a way to build lasting memories with my husband and children.Campfire

On Friday, within 10 miles of the campground, the smartphone I had been using to occupy my mind on the drive (instead of talking to my family) lost service.  “Ok, no service this weekend.  That’s fine,” I figured.  As it turns out, this small adjustment to our weekend ended up being a huge eye-opener for me.

With cell phone service seemingly everywhere, we are usually able to use our phones when camping.  I fully admit I have a mild cell phone addiction, although I was under the impression that I was not letting it affect my interactions with my family.  I now suspect I was wrong.  The harsher realization I came to, however, was just how much I was damaging my relationship with myself.

Within the first few hours, after unpacking and setting up, I found my mind instinctively turning to my phone over and over.  I had left it in the truck, determined to spend the weekend electronics free.  Several times, during conversation, a topic would come up and I would want to immediately look it up online.  Jim would mention a small object that would have come in handy if we had one and I would instinctively think “let me see how much it is on Amazon.”  I was shocked at how many times I felt vulnerable during times of waiting: waiting for 7yo to finish using the restroom, waiting for dinner to be ready, waiting for Jim and the kids to return from a walk.  Usually at times like these, had I access to my phone, I would have instinctively grabbed it to fill those moments.

What I discovered, after an initial period of adjustment, was how much clearer my mind became without my phone.  I had figured a “phone detox” would be good for me, but I hadn’t realized just how distracted I had become by my constant phone use. I was shocked at how in-the-moment I felt during everything we did as compared to before.  I was surprised at how our conversations became deeper and more thoughtful. I never would have guessed my phone was having such an effect on my mind and I’m saddened to think of how long I’ve been living with such a distraction.

As we returned to service, I immediately checked both our phones for texts and emails.  Within a few hours of being home, I was acutely aware of how cluttered my mind was becoming again.  As I got ready for bed that evening, instead of plugging my phone in at my nightstand so that it was immediately available if I couldn’t sleep, I plugged it in across the room and switched it to “airplane mode.”  When I awoke in the middle of the night and couldn’t immediately fall back to sleep, it took everything I had to not get up and grab it to keep my mind occupied.  Instead, I remained in bed with just my thoughts and was reminded why I had begun turning to my phone in the first place.  Worries, anxieties, and concerns all began to overwhelm my undistracted mind.  After what seemed like hours, I finally calmed my mind enough to fall asleep. As I was drifting off, I realized how much I had been using my phone to hide from myself and I was determined to no longer run from my thoughts by burying my face in a screen.

I imagine learning to curb my cell phone use will be a daily challenge, at which I will fail regularly.  What this weekend taught me is that, while I had not been so engrossed in my phone to miss out on the big things in life, it was the small every-day moments I had been missing – a look, a feeling, a stray thought, a breath of fresh air.  I am now determined to live those moments with my head up.