Thursday, June 17, 2010

Would you ever go camping with 21 babies and toddlers?!

As you might have noticed, I haven't had the chance to blog in a few days. It's not for a lack of desire, it's because this weekend my son and I went camping with 21 babies and toddlers. Is that crazy?!

My husband and I are avid campers. We try to camp at least 3-4 times a year. By now, we have it down to a science. We camped with Braden for the first time when he was only 6 months old, and he's since gone at least a half a dozen times.

Braden is an outdoor boy down to his soul. He wakes up every morning and immediately wants to go outside, so camping is his Disneyland! All he needs is sticks and dirt.  He's a simple boy.

This year, we planned a trip with 18 other families with babies and toddlers ranging in ages from 7 months to 2.5 years. One might have expected it to be madness, but I have to say, it was complete organized chaos. The kids had a ball. (Braden's photo says it all) The longest play-date they've ever had. What could be more fun than running around in dirt and mud, splashing in water and climbing tree stumps all day long with your best-est-best friends. Then you top it off with smores around the campfire, and finally you crawl to bed from exhaustion to only get up and do it again!

Exhaustion is putting it mildly. It's taken me three days back to not only recoup from the weekend, but also get the dirt off my feet and the dust out of my hair.  But it was worth every minute. I think, I can speak for everyone and say it was one of the best family weekends we've had.

If you've never been to Lake Casitas Recreation Area in Ventura, CA, it's a can't miss. A definite Bucket List for kids. With it's Water Adventure playground, you can spend the day splashing around in a multi-level jungle gym with waterfalls, bridges and slides. Or float along the Lazy River in an inner-tube, which has been known to lull babies to sleep (no joke).

For me, as a mom of an only child, weekends like these give Braden the opportunity to make friendships that will be, in many ways, like family to him. Many of these friends, Braden has known since the day he came home from the hospital. For both Brooke and I, during this first year, a year that has given us many opportunities to grow, learn, and prove ourselves, these friendships have helped us make it this far. These friends, are our family!

So having the chance to sit back and watch Braden play, discover, explore, share, negotiate, struggle, apologize, and laugh with his friends, is an experience for which I am grateful.

Ask me then, "would you ever go camping with 21 babies and toddlers?" My answer would be YES! YES! YES! I would. I did.  And I would do it again!

Both for me and for Braden!

These are the memories of his childhood. These are the experiences that will shape him. These are the moments I treasure.


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