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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


So we took our kids camping.
Most times when I say that I am met with a surprised, eye brows raised look and sometimes even a chuckle with a "And how'd that go?"

I admit, this family of ours, doesn't seem like the camping type.

And I admit that on the way to the state park H asked if there'd be a microwave in our tent and M asked how we'd cook spaghetti on sticks.

But that doesn't mean we haven't wanted to camp.

I'd been camping as a kid and also as a youth. Big, huge, real camping trips into the boundary waters. But that was years ago and I'd never been the one in charge.

Besides popping up some kids tents and making smores, J and I were both pretty clueless to the extent of work and adventure camping would be.

A couple months ago on a trip to REI, I saw a brochure about the I Can Camp Program. A partnership between MN DNR, Conservation Corps and REI.

The goal behind the program is to better equip and teach families about and how to camp. So they provide everything that you need: tents, air mattresses, camp stove, firewood, dishes....and so on except for your linens like sleeping bags, your clothing (obviously) and your food. They do however provide you with a packing list including important groceries to include.

As soon as I read that all the {expensive} necessities for camping were included, I was sold. So we pulled out our summer calendar and went over the options for an overnight camping trip.

Beyond the provided supplies there were trained staff there the entire time to help and assist as little or as much as we wanted. They demonstrated how to set up camp, how to cook on the camp stove and gave us all sorts of information that campers like us wouldn't have know any other way.

While we were only gone 36 hours or so it was a great experience. We learned a ton. The kids enjoyed every iota of the time we were there. From hiking, to learning about geocaching, to fishing and swimming. Setting up camp. Doing the dishes. Making meals and smores.

For anyone in Minnesota, I would highly recommend the I Can Camp program if you're looking to get your feet wet with some camping experience and see that really, if we can do it, anyone can. There are a lot of dates still open this summer and for $55 you can't go wrong!

Just a few more thoughts on our experience and then it will be picture overload.

They do not recommend infants and toddlers. I was bound and determined to have a family camping trip with all four kids so we did still bring E. This was challenging at moments but not as much as I had anticipated. If anything, the hardest part for me personally was the balance of having two older kids who are quicker and ready to move on to the next thing quicker than the littles ones can get adjusted. Also, if I could go back in time, I would have made H rest in the afternoon at the campsite because he was exhausted and while E could nap in transit, he couldn't.
Speaking of being exhausted, we all were exhausted by the end of day one and by the time we got home the next day. Being outside exclusively wears you out and then add to that the physical aspects of camping and wow, you end up t.i.r.e.d!

Will we rush out and invest in camping gear and all that jazz?

I don't think so quite yet. While we loved it and learned a ton and definitely want to do more things like this with our kids. I am not sure with the ages and stages of our kids right now we would be able to do it on a regular basis yet. I would love to participate in this program again though the true purpose is to equip you so that you can do it on your own.

With all that said, take a look at our camping trip:

Setting up camp.
Dishes. One of M's favorite parts.

Widdling wood.

Our campsite.


{Disclosure: I was not paid or compensated in any way by sharing any of this information about REI or Minnesota State Parks and the I Can Camp program. Our family paid for our own camping trip. I shared my own personal opinions because I think it is useful information.}


Blogger Jon, Sara, Tyler, and Sophie said...

I've heard about that program. Sounds like a great time.

July 7, 2010 at 10:21 PM  
Anonymous daddio said...

cool to love it. all looked happy.

luve 2 all daddio

July 7, 2010 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! Steve and I want to go camping sometime. What a great program!

July 8, 2010 at 7:12 AM  
OpenID fritzfacts said...

My sister in law did this program a couple weeks ago and loved it! She isn't a huge camper, but this program showed her simple it could be!

So glad you guys had a wonderful time!

July 8, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger charish said...

Sounds lie you all had a grat time. We always brought the port a crib with us when Michael was little. You are very right about it being very expensive equipment. It is a great time though for the family to be together.

July 8, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Looks like you had alot of fun! I had no idea a program like that existed but it seems like a great idea!

July 9, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

The state park camper cabins are a fun option also. It may be a bit cozy for 6 people, but they do sleep six. I like the option to stay dry and not sleep on the ground and yet still be "camping". If I cook & wash dishes outdoors and I have to hike to use a bathroom, it is camping.

July 9, 2010 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I've seen the commercials about this. Glad to know that it's helpful. Although my idea of camping includes an RV. :)

July 9, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger JazzTography said...

It sounds like you guys had as great of a time as we did! Did you see the article that the reporter that was there wrote? If not, send me an email, and I will send you the link. I also made a similar blog post that looked like I was paid to endorse the program at here . If you scroll to the bottom, you will see a picture of the "friend" that we met at the end of the program that would have caused me to reconsider had I met her the first day!


July 15, 2010 at 9:27 PM  

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