My family left last Wednesday for a quick camping trip. We had a great time.
We began though by leaving the tickets to the county fair we were going to attend at home:-( So we had to pay for it twice. Otherwise everything went great.
I identified Self-Heal, a wild plant related to peppermint and growing wild in the Sierras.
There is lots of Yarrow, Goldenrod, Mule's Ear, and Bind Weed, blooming right now, too. Very pretty. There were a few flowers I couldn't identify yet.
Lot's of beautiful animals at the fairs. I am especially fond of looking at the beefys.
We saw a lot of deer too.
Camping with this large of a family can be frustrating or it can be delightful. We didn't practice setting up the tent ahead of time this time and that caused some frustration (new tent. Another great big one:-) But basically, for packing, daily work at camp, and unpacking there was very little for anyone to do.
I had each child pack there own clothes. Joy (18yo) helped Jane (2.5yo) and I packed for Hubby. I just made a basic list of what everyone would need to follow while packing (undies, socks, pants, shirts, swim suits, coat). I watched as the littlest ones packed so I could make sure all pants were the non-holey kind and shirts weren't too stained.
We keep the sleeping bags and tents stored in roof bags that we just toss on the roof and strap down when it's time to go. I also keep two bags packed with bath essentials (shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, hair brushes, etc), one for boys and one for girls. Add another bag with miscellaneous camping things (hammer, playing and quiz cards, air mattress pump, etc) This really reduces packing time (since these things are always packed already) and the chance of forgetting anything.
I keep a fully loaded first aid kit in the van at all times. I am prepared for nearly any emergency that could happen. This kit includes pain killers and allergy medicines for all ages (including an epi pen for my bee allergic child), Imodium, tums, band aids, needle and thread, trash bags, gallon Ziploc (for car sickness), toilet paper, Kleenex, can opener, pliers, screwdrivers, fire lighters, Rescue Remedy (for stress or shock- helped me on those twisty roads), EmergenC, arnica, peroxide, herbal salve, alcohol, pads, ace bandage, spare glasses for me, an assortment of cloth diapers (for band aids or whatever), socks with the toe cut out (for a compression bandage), a shower curtain (large piece of plastic), sheet, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember at the moment. Plus towels. I always forget the towels, whether we are going camping or to our local lake.
With so much pre-packed and the dc packing their own stuff, all I really had to do was the food. I cooked up some fried chicken Tuesday night and ran the bread machines so we could have a "home cooked meal" Wednesday night. Hot dogs Thursday and stew (4 family sized cans of Denty Moore Beef Stew plus two cans of cream of chicken to hide the "canned beef/dog food" flavor of the beef stew) and we had all our suppers. Lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches plus fruit for lunches (this is the only time I use Jiffy or other sugared peanut butters. They don't need mixing or refrigeration like my normal peanuts-and-salt peanut butter.) Breakfasts were cold cereal for the dc and I and canned meal replacer and fiber bars for hubby (since he hates breakfast that's what he eats most the time anyway). Paper bowls and plates and plastic spoons and clean up is a breeze.
We buy us all a bunch of munchies for the first day which we separated into personal bags (this year, ziplocs). We usually include trail mix, potato chips, cookies, raisins, jelly beans and other non-messy things. We figure vacation isn't the time to be too strict about eating a healthy diet, so we splurge a bit.
We pack one large ice chest with ice and the things that need to be kept cold, and one with just food (boxed cereal, cans, bread etc). These get strapped to the luggage rack we put on the back of the van. One small chest goes up front between hubby and I and holds our munchies and whatever else we need it to. With all the tents (Joy likes to have her own tent) and bedding on the roof, and the food on the tailgate, all we need to fit inside are the clothes bags (one per person), pillows, toys and books, and snacks (not counting the first aid stuff already in there.) We actually have more room now than we did when we had four of us camping in a sedan.
For chores, everyone cleans up after themselves for each meal with everyone helping with things like the big pot to cook the stew and putting the cereal back. In the morning, breakfast is followed by everyone making their beds and cleaning their area of the tent. Then we change, brush teeth and hair, clean the van and the rest of the site and we are ready for the day's adventure. In the evening we follow much the same pattern. I put the littlest ones (under 9) to bed earl while hubby watches the the fire and visits with the older ones (I get to read and rest:-).
In stores or fairs or whatever, we travel in "train" fashion. Hubby is the engine. Each child falls in line behind him and pretends to be a train car. a train car can only go where its engine goes. I play caboose and keep a constant count on everyone. I usually hole the hand of the littlest one (or put them in a stroller). Often, the older ones hold another little one's hand to keep them from getting distracted and wandering off (though I am watching to prevent that, too).
Hmmm, this seems to be growing quite long. I think I may have another pamphlet going:-)
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