Perhaps fiasco is too harsh of a word, but as a mom who in her past life loved to camp, I walked away from this weekend's 20-hour camping trip a little bit smarter.
After having a good night's (or two) worth of sleep in my own bed, I came to a few conclusions about camping with a precocious preschooler:
1. Know your location. Check out the web, brochures, online reviews, your friends...anyone you can to get their sense of the location and why their families liked and didn't like it. The reality for us was our Girl Scout council is trying to build the family camping program, so we didn't know people who had gone. Had we, we would have known that the platform tents area near the lake had less room for preschoolers to roam, and our money would have been better spent reserving in the "primitive camp" area, still not far from the lodge, where there would be space for the little guy to run around.
2. Nap time is futile. Maybe it's easier if your preschooler isn't in the middle of transitioning out of naps, but couple the excitement of sleeping away from home with the lack of naps, and you've got a recipe for "not listening" moments.
3. Realize your restrictions. The pint-size restrictions. Even though they can stare at a worm for 10 minutes at a walk at home, hiking for half an hour in the morning may not be as thrilling.
4. Plan for a little home essentials. Please, don't be like one of our platform tent neighbors and pack your DVD player, but bring a few comforts of home to make your trip more bearable. Like your preschooler's "tag" (or lovey). Or a football. Or a book or two to help them settle down if needed. Or crayons and paper while you're cooking over the gas stove.
5. Focus on the bright side. Yes, we had to bypass the latrines about 15 times to go to the indoor plumbing at the lodge, but at least I got my steps in!!
For your first few adventures, stick with sites closer to your home. It makes needing to cut your trip home short a little more bearable.
Any other tips you can share about camping with little ones?