Each year we try to do some sort of camping activity. Two summers ago, we took the kids camping up in the Cuyamaca mountains. It was a little hot, but there was plenty of shade, and we just went for one night. That same summer, we took them on a very low-key camping trip to our local lake, where all we had to do was bring a tent and meat for dinner-- the campfire, activities and hiking were all set up for us. But even then, we couldn't help but feel that if we were going to go to all the trouble of packing all that stuff, we should at least sleep in the tent for a couple nights.
Last summer, we tried beach camping with some good friends in a borrowed motor home. To us, it felt like extreme tailgating. The only reason we had space for the kids to play was because the spot next to us was empty. And it was the only one in the whole lot that was empty.
This year, we decided to try out a private camp ground we'd been to about 5 years ago. It's more expensive than state parks. And more crowded. There are some tent-only sites and some RV only sites, and some that allow for both. We did the latter, near the beach. Which turned out to be windy and cold the first night. But by noon on the second day, the weather was beautiful.
The camp ground has a giant play structure, a swim area for the ocean, plenty of sand, bike and boating rentals, and a bunch of heated pools. There is also a skate park, an arcade, a horseshoe area, a cafe with ice cream and a general store. So it's not what you'd call roughing it-- but that's okay with us, too.
This year, our group grew by one family. Casey is about 2 1/2 years older than the next oldest kid, and the youngest is about 22 months old, so the kids get along relatively well. The first night, the kids were so hyped up, we just could not get them to sleep. And just as we got them down, fireworks from Sea World riled them up, so of course we let them get out of bed to watch. That didn't meant they slept in the next morning, though! They were up by 6:30, ready to start their day. The boys napped a bit on Saturday, after swimming, kite-flying and playing in the sand. Then the group rented a giant 11-seater bike contraption, and we pedaled all over the park.
The kids rode their bike all over the asphalt, and then Casey decided he was ready to have his training wheels removed (at long last). (I personally attribute this to him biking with his cousin, who is a year and a half younger than he is and has off the training wheels for about a year now, the afternoon before.) And all be darned. He did it! By the end of the weekend, Casey was riding his bike without his training wheels. (After we got home, Jason took him to parking lot, where he fell for the first time, but wasn't injured too badly-- and now he's up and riding again already!) Here's a snapshot (yes, it's blurry-- he was moving.)
After that, we headed over to the play area, where I proceeded to embarrass Casey by "yelling" at some middle-school-aged-looking kids who were throwing hands-full of the rubber chips from the roof top of the play structure, many of which were landing on other, smaller kids. When Casey saw me explain to them that I understand they were having fun but that it was hurting other kids, he yelled at me: "You're not the boss of the playground!" A nearby dad overheard him, and said: "Do you want me to go find your parents?" Sheepishly, I had to admit I was the parent, and he was sassing me because I'd apparently embarrassed him.
Finally, we headed back to camp for dinner, banana boats and another camp fire.
Sunday morning we packed up camp and headed back home, where the kids and I took nice naps. It was a great weekend-- great friends, great food, great weather-- can't wait to do it again next year!
Here are some photos of the fun:
Left column: the bigger kids getting ready for a walk and roasting marshmallows for s'mores
Middle column: headlight, the girls at the park, Casey in our tent
Right column: Lucas practicing without training wheels, watching the fireworks, Griffin preparing the beer, and the girls