I think the kids are getting old enough to enjoy camping! We took Harriet camping when she was a baby and it was super uncomfortable for everyone and nobody slept much and we were not tempted to do that again for a while. But now I think they’re old enough to appreciate the magic of sleeping in a tent, and now we have this gorgeous, wild island to explore, it seemed like the right moment to start. The kids have been a little nervous about the idea of sleeping outside in the forest, so we decided to do a practice run first.
We were lucky enough to find one spot open at Butterpot Provincial Park, only 30 minutes away from home! (A small outing for a first adventure.) It’s the same boreal forest setting that surrounds St. John’s, lots of dense, windswept pines and grey rock and scree.
We were so lucky to have warm and sunny weather! The forecast said rain and thunder, but it turned out to be just perfect. We went swimming in the lake right away, the girls are still a bit disappointed every time we go to a beach here because they’re always rocky- no soft sand here. But the water was warm and shallow and we had lots of fun splashing together. They both practiced kicking and paddling, like they learned in swim lessons this summer. I think Harriet is *almost* swimming now!
The girls asked to run over to the playground (just across the camp road) while I put up the tent. I said sure, and they were SOOO EXCITED to go off to the playground by themselves. I could hear them chatting and playing while I set up the tent and spread out our tablecloth and set out dinner things. When they came back, we gathered up sticks together for the fire. And we found a big patch of raspberry bushes too! They played inside the tent while I started the fire. As soon as they crawl into the tent it’s like they’re off to a new imaginary world, somewhere different every time.
We had got dogs and apples for dinner, and of course s’mores for dessert. It was still very light out, so we decided to go see the lake in the evening light. Summer days are so long here, and the sunset hour is very long and slow, with warm and golden glow on everything. I think we were facing the wrong direction to see a real sunset, but we got a lovely soft glow on the lake and mountains. The girls said they didn’t want to swim, but then of course they just splashed right into the lake fully clothed. There wasn’t anybody in sight, so I helped them out of their wet shorts and let them run and splash around in their birthday suits.
Finally it started getting a little darker so we dried off and broke open our glow sticks and head lamps, packed up our campsite as the dusk came down. It was already past the kids’ bedtime and they both fell asleep pretty quickly in the car. Driving home through the forest and hills, I came around a bend and suddenly there was the city spread out below, it was my first time seeing it all lit up at night, wow!
Kids were super exhausted the next day, but also suuuuper excited to go back again and try camping out for real. No more fear of sleeping in the tent!