I will start by letting you know that this was not supposed to be part of our vacation. Originally we had a cruise of the 1000 Islands and visit to Boldt castle booked (like I have on my bucket list) but somehow we ended up cancelling that to go camping instead. Also, our oldest decided she'd rather go to a cottage with her friend so she didn't get to experience this with us.
I must say, I was very skeptical of how this was going to go. I have never been camping in my life. I'm scared of bugs, bears and being uncomfortable. But my husband really wanted to go (and we have this campsite booked for 2 nights in September) so we decided to go for it and try it out for a night. And when I say camping, I'm not talking the cushy right by your car camping. I'm talking you have to hike or canoe to your site because you're in the backwoods. I was terrified of what I was getting myself into.
We got on the road a little later than planned (nothing new there) so we didn't get to the camp site until the early afternoon. Our youngest hates being in the car and started complaining about it almost immediately into our 4 hour drive. I was already exhausted before we even started our half hour hike to our campsite. There are roots and rocks all over the forest floor so I was telling our 3-year old to watch his step so he wouldn't trip. He told me to stop annoying him. Good times.
When we got to our campsite, there was stuff everywhere. Someone else was using our site! I wasn't sure what was going on but we couldn't set ourselves up until they left. We found them on the beach and they eventually packed up and left. While we were waiting though, the kids found a huge centipede and started playing with it - the grossness had begun.
The kids and I started exploring our surroundings a bit while my husband was collecting firewood so we could cook our lunch. We had the most beautiful sandy beach right by our site. Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad after all.
The kids were so interested in how we were going to cook our food. Our youngest wasn't too impressed that he had to eat something that was cooked on a stick. We had our lunch of hot dogs and chips (this was NOT a healthy trip) and I had my afternoon coffee.
Once we were done, we set up the tent and then we took the kids swimming and fishing for the first time.
We weren't sure if we'd catch anything, but as soon as my husband cast his first line to test, he immediately got a fish! That was amazing, but also set the bar very high and the boys were a bit annoyed when it came to their turn and they actually had to wait for a bite - but the excitement when they actually did catch one was priceless.
After enjoying the lake for a while, we started making dinner. While we were cooking, the kids sat nicely and colored. Everyone was getting along so well and using their imaginations. It was so nice to see.
By the time we were done dinner it was starting to get dark. We went for another quick swim and while we were there we saw a water snake. A snake that was swimming in the water!!! That was a big nope for me. The kids loved seeing it though and the view was so beautiful, I kept it together and we stayed.
Then we went back and changed into some warmer clothes. Mom of the year here forgot the little guys sweater in the van though so poor thing only had a t-shirt on. Thank goodness it was a really warm day and evening so he didn't really need it.
We sat around the campfire and talked about our day. We started seeing more and more stars appearing in the sky and it was absolutely beautiful. I'm not going to lie though, this is when things started going downhill fast for me. I'm not scared of the dark, but I am scared of being in the woods in the dark. I just wanted to go to bed so I could wake up and it would be daylight sooner.
We ended up taking one last walk to the beach to look at the stars before packing it in for the night and that's when we heard the loudest and strangest howl/cry. That was it, I was done. My husband said the look on my face was pure fear (and it was!). We had left our dog tied up at the camp site and I for sure thought she was being attacked by something. We ran back and saw her laying calmly by the fire. That actually made me panic even more because now that I knew it wasn't her, I really had no idea what it was. (My husband is trying to tell me that it was an owl but I've never heard any owl that sounds like that before).
We ended up going in the tent and eventually the howling stopped. The kids were still so excited but I was trying my hardest to go to sleep.
It was the worst sleep ever! Not the comfort part, my husband actually brought me a pad to sleep on as well as a camping pillow so I was way more comfortable than I thought I was going to be, it was just all of the noises inside and outside of the tent. I honestly don't know how people sleep with dogs. Our girl was pacing, shaking her head right beside me flapping her big ears, and panting right in my face.
When morning finally came around (it took forever!), I looked up towards the sky and saw a spider IN our tent right above me. I was dying. I have never wanted the kids to wake up more in my life. I just wanted to get out of there!
Eventually two of the kids woke up and my husband woke up and got rid of it. Since the little guy was still sleeping, we didn't want to leave the tent so we played a few games of Uno while we waited for him to wake.
Another fun thing about camping is going to the bathroom. I usually go multiple times a day at home (mom bladder), but in the 24 hours that we were out there, I went a total of 3 times. You either had to go in the bush (not happening), or use this outhouse that had a massive spider nest on the inside of the door (kill me now). I actually made my daughter come and hold the door open so it wouldn't be close to me.
Once everyone was awake, we made breakfast. There's nothing quite like food cooked on an open fire.
Since we only had the campsite for one night, we only had time for a quick hike after breakfast. Before we left, we packed everything up so we could just grab our stuff and go when we got back.
We weren't able to hike very far but we did find some beautiful sights along the way. I can't wait to explore more when we go back next month.
Overall, we loved our first camping experience. I loved being "unplugged" and present. Being in nature. Hiking and swimming. Watching the kids explore. I basically liked everything, except the actual camping part. The nights will still take some getting used to but it is absolutely something that we will be doing again.