Here are the stats:
-10 kids (ranging in age from 1 - 4).
-One group campground on the Stillaguamish River in the North Cascades.
Sounds like a recipe for chaotic trip, yes?
But in a fantastic, crazy, hilarious way. It was pure, unadulterated chaos.
I have such fond memories of going camping with my family and friends when I was a little one and am thus determined to recreate this experience for my own children. So we persuaded family friends to join us on a group camping trip at the end of July.
I was a little bit nervous prior to the trip. We were the common hub amongst all the families; what if not everyone jelled? Six four-year-olds (plus younger siblings) could very well be a recipe for disaster.
What if the bugs were horrible and it rained the entire time?
How many kids were going to fall in the river?
I shouldn’t have worried.
The big kids turned into a roving pack that tumbled through the camp like tasmanian devils. They laughed, they bounced, they fought, they made up, and then they did it all over again.
And loved it. Wee ones are perfectly suited to grubby camping.
And the adults traded off on kid duties, cooked up group meals, and discussed the finer points of campfire building.
Another happy little grubber.
I am a new convert to group meals. Each family was responsible for providing one meal for the trip for the entire crew. You know me, peeps, I’ll do anything I can to get out of cooking three meals a day while on vacation (or at home, for that matter).
Our camper build-out is 95% complete. We now have shades on the windows, which means I don’t have an audience when using the pot. Yessss.
Emma rolled out of bed the first night, which wasn’t great, but we made a few modifications for Night #2 and she slept like a champ. Which made this mama happy because I didn’t have a kicking, squirming baby that came into my sleeping area in the wee hours of the morning. Definitely a win.
This was our 4th camping trip this summer and I’m finally feeling like we’re getting the hang of it. Baby steps, peeps!
On Saturday, the whole crew did a 4 mile hike, and the kiddos spent most of it running up the trail. Our family did this hike back in March and practically had to drag Ben up the last quarter mile. Not the case this time around. Friends are good for keeping the enthusiasm levels high. Especially for my fiercely competitive son.
I love this picture of K. She’s a glorious little forest nymph.
Classic four year old boy, right?!
At last, our lake!
The awkwardly named but beautiful Beaver Plant Lake. Still one my most favorite hikes on the Mountain Loop Highway.
Another perk of this camping trip? Having a professional photographer along for the ride!! Bronwen Houck is a fellow mom, friend, and fantastically talented photographer. These photos were all taken by her and you may remember her work from our holiday card last year. That’s her daughter K, down below, striking a pose with Ben and E.
This little baby girl is rocking those shades. Looking good, Em!
A rest break for some wild blueberry picking.
Back at camp the kids hung out and relaxed after the big hike. Two year old C, below, kept everyone entertained as comedian of the group. Emma was enthralled by his antics.
I am now convinced that a hammock is the most import piece of camp gear ever. This thing is like a non-human babysitter. Good for hours of fun.
And then it was time for a little swimming. Coal Creek campsite has a fantastic water hole. The water was freezing but weirdly bearable after a while. Perhaps we were just numb.
These brave kiddos were totally killing it. Cowabunga!
Everyone was moving slowly on Sunday morning. We had a gradual wake-up, which included copious quantities of hot cocoa and story time. For both the kids and the story-teller (me).
Emma got milk drunk and fell in the (cold, not lit) fire pit. E is admiring her bravery. Or the fact that the palms of her hands are solidly black from the soot.
I think that Coal Creek might just be my favorite group campground ever. The small stream was perfect for the kids, it was private, there was nearby hiking, and the swimming hole was a nice perk after a sweaty day spent on the trails.
Love this crazy family of mine. Two days of grubby camping, poor sleep, and way too many smores, yet we’re still having the time of our lives.
The whole gang.
Can’t wait for next year.
PS: By my count, there were at least four accidental river dunkings. :)