Camping with babies is something a lot of parents aren’t ready to take on. A baby on schedule is tough enough and then you have to take them out of their home and routine to do something that many adults don’t like doing. I LOVE camping! I love waking up early, slightly tired, but in a beautiful place with a day of outdoor fun awaiting me. I’ve always said my babies would have to learn to be good campers. Last years, Ty did amazing on the two camping trips we did in B.C.
This year I’ve been camping with babies three times, each time without a spouse. So that adds a whole other fun challenge but I say bring it on. I’m going to recap the three camping experience we’ve had so far this year, but I’ll sum up the major lesson learned now:
Tenting + Southern Alberta = Death
Ok. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but listen to my first story.
RICHARDS PAYNE LAKE WEEKEND
Every year, the Richards family tries to get together in B.C. near Koocanusa. Due to COVID and job responsibilities, we opted for a place close to home and headed to Payne Lake, located just outside Mountain View. It’s 15 minutes away from Waterton and 45 minutes from home (thank goodness).
Most Alberta campgrounds are completely booked but this one was a first come, first serve. We left on Thursday evening and were surprised how few camping spots were left! The west side campground has better sites and more trees but there are only about 10 sites. We went to the east side campground which is much more open, but this weekend it was also filled with kids which was great!
There were three families and we were able to get sites together that were away from the lake which I preferred. When you’re caring for an infant and have a hectic toddler running around, waterfront camping sounds stressful!
My in-laws all had campers and I set up my trusty tent. I was ready to make it a great experience for the babies.
Payne Lake is so warm!! Probably the warmest “mountain lake” I’ve ever been in so it was great for swimming! Ty had a blast throwing rocks and playing on floaties in the warm water.
There are a couple walking paths that we explored and we found a creek, flowers, and a snake.
There was one incident that marred the lake times and that was the older couple parked at the campsite right next to the public play area. I was down there with the kids and they were swimming and shouting and squealing and I hear a man yell “Stop!” The kids all stopped and looked at me. I told them that it was fine, keep playing and doing what they want. Probably 10 minutes later he yelled again “Be quiet!” So I got up and went around to his site and told him “They don’t have to be quiet. They’re kids, we’re at a public lake, it’s not an unreasonable hour. They will make as much noise as they want.”
When the kids were done we started walking back to the site and the couple was shooting us dirty looks. I stopped and said “We’re here all weekend, so you might as well get used to us!” He responded by cursing at me to which I began throwing it back. I used some very foul language in front of all my nieces (whoops) and then we walked away. The guy did try to complain to the camp host who told him “kids are kids.” And they left early Sunday morning when we came down for a swim. Oh well!
The first night of tenting went very poorly! Logi slept like a dream, but Ty woke up at midnight and had a full on tantrum to get out of the tent and ride his bike. It inly lasted about 30 minutes but it was hard to relax and fall back asleep. Logi was up and ready to go at 5:45 am the next morning.
I posted about it on Instagram and someone told me it usually takes kids 1-2 nights to adjust to their new surroundings. They slept through the night the second night and even slept in until 7am!
On the third night they slept through a killer storm which I’ll talk about next.
A Storm Destroyed My Tent
On our final night of camping the boys and I happily settled into the tent around 10 p.m. We were all sleeping away when I was awaken by the tent whipping in the wind. I could see sudden flashes of lightning and I was worried about the babies waking up scared.
I laid awake listening to the rain and worrying the wind would blow the cover off the tent. And then the tent started leaning more and more into us until it came down on us. A tent pole had snapped in the wind and collapsed the tent on us.
If it had been just me I would have laughed. But when you’re a mom your thoughts go straight to your kids. I rushed out into the rain and wind to my car to pull out the stuff I had in the back seat and set up a bed for the kids. I grabbed each baby at a time and clutch them to me to keep them dry and lay them in the back. It was a truly scary moment. I knew we were ok, but if one of them woke I knew they would be terrified.
It was about 2:30 a.m. and once they were safe, I sat in my car and cried for a little bit. Once my heart rate slowed down I decided we were going home. We drove the 45 minutes home and I woke up Ryan to help me bring them in. I don’t know HOW those boys slept through it.
The next morning I drove back to the campsite to get our belongings. I wondered if I had been a bit dramatic leaving but when I saw the state of my tent I felt better.
VAN LIFE AT PAYNE LAKE
You know how when you fall off a horse you’re supposed to get back on before you develop a fear? I felt the same about camping alone with the babies. I asked my aunt the day we got back if I could borrow her camper van to take the boys out to Payne Lake for a do over.
That Thursday I set out with the two boys in a camper van for a do over.
Let me tell you, I am HOOKED! The fridge/freezer alone is enough to want one, but add a bathroom, bed, TV, and sturdy walls and you’re golden!
The boys and I had a blast for a few days alone. We must have spent 12-14 hours a day in the sun, swimming, walking, throwing rocks took up most of the day.
At nap time, we all passed out together on the bed. At night I could turn on a cartoon for as we wound down for bed. It was fantastic.
For the last night, the other half of our blended family arrived. Ryan, Miranda, Adam, Ryan and Ace all came out for a night away. By that point I was desperate for adult conversation and was happy they came out.
I’m pretty set on a camper van but unfortunately our budget doesn’t allow it for this season.
TENTING BY A RIVER
Somehow I ended up tenting by a river with Tynan. It’s Cat’s family property and we had gone out for a fun day playing in the warm water.
I decided I wanted to camp and enjoy the river and my friends so Ryan stayed home with Logan and Ty and I packed up.
Tynan enjoyed swimming until dusk which is a big deal because he’s been afraid of water since he was born.
It was a fantastic evening spent with friends and family around the fire and when Ty and I snuggled in together in our tent I was so content.
And then my air mattress deflated, and the wind picked up and blew the cover off. I had to run out in the middle of the night and put the cover back on, and through the rest of the night the wind whipped the tent around. All I could think was “NO MORE TENTING!”
The winds in Southern Alberta are so strong and so unpredictable. I still enjoyed waking up by the river but I certainly wasn’t as well rested as camping in the van.
CAMPER FOR LIFE
The moral of all these stories is that you can’t let fear stop you from going camping. As parents of babies we tend to stick to what’s easiest and comfortable which is understandable. But missing out on life experiences because you don’t know how your baby will do is silly. You have to try at least once. I learned that my kids will sleep through a roof falling on their heads- PERFECT!
If you want your kids to share your interests it’s best to start them as young as possible. Happy camping!
Have you taken your baby camping? How did it go?
Anyone with a camper van they want to sell? Ha ha!