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Annual Beach Camping

It looks like we are making this Camping trip to the Ocean an annual thing. A week after Pia was born, I decided for my Birthday I wanted to buy family camping gear so we could go enjoy the great outdoors. A huge tent, 4 kids sleeping bags, and a two-week old- we headed out to Ocean Shores, Washington at the end of August last year. This year we hoped to bring along more families. But apparently schlepping young children out into the woods for a night or two doesn’t sound as appealing to others as it does to us. One other family joined us this year, but sadly ended up sick early Saturday morning deflating a lot of the fun out of the trip for them. Otherwise, it was a great trip. Our girls really had a blast both at the campsite and the beach. A year older now, there is far more understanding and far more ability for participation. From pitching the tent to roasting their own hot dogs on sticks, what could be a better adventure for Toddlers?

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For me, it might sound odd to say I like the romance of camping. Sure, saying camping and romance in the same sentence seem about as mismatched as two terms can be. The truth be told, it is not the case if you plan it properly. Though I have to say, I know plenty of people who’s idea of a good time does not involve sleeping on the ground, smelling like campfire smoke and not showering for a few days. That’s definitely not very ‘romantic’ in most people’s terminology. Some people are simply not cut out to be in the great outdoors, so adventure looks far different for them. Personally, I find the notion of roughing it far more stimulating than paying someone to scrape the callouses off my feet at the spa (cuz, hey I need those so I don’t get blisters in my hiking boots!). Like I said, it comes down to being prepared. I don’t mean overly prepared, falling prey to the notion ‘It is far better to have too much than not enough when it comes to women in the woods’. Yea that’s not me. More stuff equals more to worry about. I’m talking smart stuff. The essentials you need to be comfortable, equipped and efficient. Kids obviously throw a wrench into stuff like this, but a big part of what  I love sharing with my kids in this adventure is that they have to learn to be adaptable, but if they are well equipped it sets them up to be able to fully enjoy the trip. So that’s why we got the girls GOOD sleeping bags. Why we have two camp stoves. That we’ve done this enough times our preparedness shows through to our kids so they are more likely to roll with it as something that is expected and normal. I think also engaging them in the process is really important. Our girls have totally benefited this year over last year by being able to help out with stuff- like setting up the tent, cooking their own hot dog. When they are engaged they take ownership over the trip. The most romantic aspects of camping is allowing nature to be appreciated. Even when that means teaching our girls how to pee in the woods. I hope our girls grow up thinking stuff like this is the accepted norm, not some weird, hard or unattainable thing people do for some strange reason. And I hope that it does stretch them out of their comfort zone a bit.

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I think I can safely say that by now we have this Camping with Very Young Kids down. The obstacles that I know are there have been taken care of, experienced and solved so they are no longer in the way. Our campfire? I lit it with ONE match. Not like I’m bragging or anything. But I fully understand how darn frustrating it is to fight your logs into combusting when all signs and trials are pointing to impossible. This is something I know how to do out of repetition, and we will pass that knowledge along to our kids through repetition. When they’re older, of course.

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I think the girl’s favorite part of our trip was the beach. This year we caught some sun. The Washington Coast is not known for it’s warmth, but we stripped down from wool sweaters to bathing suits and frolicking in the waves.

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Tallis is quite the water lover- running, laying down and rolling in the freezing ocean. Araiya, a bit more apprehensive was quite content digging with a found shovel while searching for sea shells. I am amazed how long Tallis lasted before turning blue and huddling under a towel. Our sun quickly was threatened by some rain clouds, so we packed up to head back for lunch, only for it to get really sunny again before we even made it off the sand. So we found a grassy spot by the car and ate lunch, enjoying the warmth and being outside.

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Unfortunately, we were only able to stay for one night. The benefit of going back to the same campground is we learned which sites are the good ones and how to get a spot away from all the RV’s. Our site was killer, beautiful and flat, with plenty of privacy and room for the kids to run around. Despite all our preparedness, I have to admit we forgot one essential thing: Flashlights. Funny, because in the face of romantically roughing it and unplugging for a day, we had enough service to download a Flashlight App on our iPhones to give us enough glow in the tent after dark to read a bedtime story. Guess we weren’t as remote as we’d have liked!

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