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HomeBlogMommy DazeCamping with a preschooler — Mommy Daze

Camping with a preschooler — Mommy Daze

My Dad had three daughters, so to break up the estrogen party he got us all camping early on as kids. We evolved over the years from tents to a rickety pop-up camper to an RV. It’s been many years since I’ve been camping, so when my oldest, James, started to express an interest in going, I knew who to call to organize our trip — my dad. James could barely contain his excitement!

Camping04My husband stayed home with our 2-year-old, Luke, because he wasn’t quite ready for an overnight camping trip. My dad made reservations at our favorite childhood camping spot — Shad Landing at the Pocomoke River State Park near Salisbury. He left on a weekday morning in his RV to get to the campsite early to setup. That afternoon, I picked up James from preschool and headed to the site. It worked out that it was his nap time, making the 2-hour drive peaceful. James’ eyes lit up as we pulled in to the campsite. My Dad had strung lights from his RV, setup a little camper chair by the campfire and had the fishing poles lined up. It was my 4-year old’s dream come true!

To get some energy out, we strolled around the campground and checked out the river, the playground and part of a hiking trail behind our campsite. There were only two other campers in the entire park. James could yell, run and squeal his little heart out! As the sun went down, we warmed up by the fire, drank hot chocolate and cooked hotdogs on a stick over the embers. My heart wanted to explode as my dad shared some of his “spooky” stories with James around the fire that night. What precious memories for James. I still cherish the memories of hearing the same stories around the campfires when I was young.

After trying out roasted marshmallows — which James didn’t care for — we retired to the RV for the night. Like most toddlers, James doesn’t usually do well with change, so we tried to keep to our normal night-time routine. We read books, turned on his white-noise machine, and bundled in with all his favorite stuffed animals and special blanket from home. He liked the sleeping bag my Dad had for him. Unlike the trips from my youth, we were spoiled with a bathroom and a space heater. I feel sorry for James when he actually has to “rough it” on a camping trip in the future.Camping02

The next day started bright and early when James announced at 6:30 a.m. that it was time to go fishing. Eventually, after coffee (lots of coffee), we all took our poles and headed down to the river. My dad bought James a special kids fishing pole, and he was a natural! On the first try he cast the line way out into the water, surprising us all. He absolutely loved it. Over and over he reeled it in, cast it out and enjoyed just watching and waiting. He got enough little bites to keep his interest. We only caught one fish the entire morning, which I let James help me reel in, but he didn’t mind at all. To him it was a completely successful fishing trip.

After another visit to the playground, we headed back to the campsite for lunch and then a hike along the trail. He loved the hike, which took us through the woods, over a bridge and along the water. There were path markers along the way which he enjoyed looking for and pointing out enthusiastically.

We arrived back to the campsite tuckered out. My dad had already packed up everything in the RV, so I loaded up our tired camper into the van and headed home. He napped for most of the drive, waking up as we crossed the Bay Bridge.

Now a seasoned camper, our toddler is already asking when we’ll be going again. I loved reliving the joys of nature through his young eyes and can’t wait to go again — as long as my dad sets everything up, puts the worms on the hook, and cooks us breakfast again, of course.

Click here to read more Mommy Daze.


Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.

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