Monday, August 04, 2008

Camping with Eliana

Last weekend we decided to do something we've been dreading doing... taking Eliana camping for the first time. Leif and I have enjoyed camping and backpacking since we moved to Montana, but haven't been since Ellie was born. Now that Eliana is two and is able to sleep in a "big people" bed without the restraints of rails, we plunged headfirst into the adventure and took Ellie camping.

Really, though, it wasn't so much our drive to camp that spurred us to such adventure last weekend. It was the RightNow development family picnic and weekend camping trip that encouraged us to give it a go. And as we are not really car campers, we borrowed a tent from Carl and Liv and spent our night in the company of Leif's coworkers' families, also camping with children.

Camping with other families with kids is definitely the way to go.

We were on a site with Carl and Liv, whose son Cale (1 year) is one of Ellies little play buddies. She and Cale had a GRAND time getting as dirty as possible. Seriously... how dirty can one child get? I'm pretty sure Ellie was trying to set a world record!

The other family camping on our site had 3 children: a 7 year old son, and 3 year old twins, a boy and a girl. And Ellie just decided to hang out with them while we camped! They ran around, played in the water, played with pinecones, took turns swinging in the hammock... The four of them were great together! They stayed within our (fairly large, given that it housed 3 tents and a luxury camper!) campsite and any time I realized neither Leif nor I were paying close attention to where she was I'd look up and find her playing with the other kids. It was great!

Then it came time to go to bed. This is the part we were afraid of. Once it got dark (about 10:00 at night) I took Ellie back to the tent and we got ready for bed. I got her all situated and she seemed to think it was funny that we were sleeping in a "triangle". So I tucked her in and told her it was time to go to sleep, and then the talking started. She just chatted and giggled and had a great time! For TWO hours! She seemed to think that it was a slumber party and that I was there to talk to! That's great, but other families were trying to sleep, too, and they could all hear her. Especially when she started looking at her flashcards. (Silly me, I thought they might get her to quiet down and rest, like reading a book before bed!) She was very excited and the next morning people gave us a hard time about our daughter reciting things like "Mayan Temple!" and "Tower of Pisa!" late at night. Whoops!

But all in all the night went so well that we decided to stay a second night with everyone else. The second night I was smarter, though, and put her to bed just before it got dark so she wouldn't be scared in a dark tent all alone and I could leave her there until she fell asleep. It worked like a charm! She didn't even wake up when we came in later to go to bed ourselves. Hooray!

So... it was a successful camping trip. And I think we'll even try it again once or twice this summer yet! Now we just have to find some friends to camp with so there are other children for Ellie to play with. Anyone want to come??

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