Eight years into this parenting game and I wholeheartedly realize the impact of my own childhood on my parenting style and aspirations today. Take my experience with my family’s “country house” for example. My great uncle on my mother’s side built a lake house in the Laurentian mountains on Lac de la Sucrerie that became a family respite and, eventually, the setting for many a summer weekend for my cousins and I.
My Grandpa taking my cousins and me on a hike at the Country House
(I’m the one in the red hoodie)
I have such fond memories of the Country House – one of which is going on aimless “hikes” in the forest surrounding our house. We would stay out for what seemed like hours, forging new paths, inspecting various plants and trees, eating wild strawberries, gleefully tracking through mud and complaining about mosquitos. It was great.
And so, taking my kids on a “hike” during #CampMom was high on my list. Of course, we don’t have a lake house in the mountains, but we do have a densely wooded area at the end of the cul-de-sac on our street, so I thought – “why not!”
What We Packed
- Lots of cold water
- Giggles’ First Aid Kit from her Girl Scout bag
- Bug Spray
- Hand Sanitizer
- Lightweight Blanket
What We Toted
- Hats (it was a hot day)
- Notepads and Pencils for scribbling down observations
- Sandwich Baggies (for collecting interesting rocks, leaves and other specimens along the way)
- Walking Sticks
A Note About Walking Sticks
As you can see from the old-school picture above, walking sticks are an integral part of my hiking memories. We each took so much time choosing the “right” stick – a combination of length, width, crookedness and character. We used the sticks to guide us, move errant branches out of the way, poke at unidentified objects and as fly swatters.
As soon as I mentioned to my kids that our first order of business was to get the perfect walking stick, they looked at me like I had two heads.
“A STICK? What do we need sticks for? I don’t wanna stick.”
Oh you’re getting a stick.
In true suburbia fashion, the neighboorhood landscapers were working on our neighbor’s yard and just happened to be cutting away branches from a tree. We sauntered over and asked if we could partake of the cut branches – voila! Walking sticks for all!
Within 4 minutes, Giggles and L’il Buddy had broken their sticks, slamming them against the concrete.
We walked an entire 300 feet to the cul-de-sac only to find out that the county had fenced off the wooded area and there was no way in. The neighboor living next to the forest directed us up the street where there was supposedly an entrance.
We had to stop at our house on the way for a bathroom run.
Finally, we got back on our way and walked “all the way” to the top of the hilly street and – you guessed it – that entrance was fenced off too. Giggles was ecstatic since her legs were “tired” and she “didn’t really feel like standing up anymore.”
Chatterbox did stop to rub a tree trunk bark pattern onto the pages of her nature book, so all was not lost. We decided to stop back at the house and pack a lunch to take to the park where we knew the wooded area was not fenced in.
Thirty-minutes later we were at the park eating our picnic lunch on a blanket (while I took a call from the Blogalicious publicist – #workingmom). After some convincing that we were not at the park to go on the slides and swings, but to go on a NATURE WALK, we ventured into the forest with our trusty walking sticks. We made it about 50 feet in when the cries about bugs and scratchy plants started. We had a moment of laughs walking across an enormous downed tree trunk and then we called it quits.
“Mama, that was not a good nature walk!” Chatterbox said, making sure to document that fact in her notebook. “You are right,” I said “that was pretty lame.”
“Can we go to the pool now, Mama?” Giggles said.
“Yes.” I sighed.
I get points for trying, right?
Instead of sending the kids to summer camp, this year we are doing camp at home. Yes, I realize this is both delightful and insane at the same time. Follow along with us as we embark upon our First Annual #CampMom adventure and create memories to last a lifetime. Or at least a solid week or two.