Cub Scout Campout at the Sequoia National Forest

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Cub Scout Troop in front of General Sherman TreeAs a Cub Scout family, and as a family that enjoys each other’s company while sleeping in a tent with no television, limited cell phone service and a spirit of adventure, taking a trip up to the Sequoia National Forest was a sweet beginning to the new Webelo 2 year for my oldest.

Webelo 2-boys have a set of requirements to earn badges, and in general, just have to do outings and such to promote to a Boy Scout by the end of the school year next year.

One of the things that my husband and I recognize for our three children is:

This is the time of their lives.

They will never be this little again.

They will never have this chance to be with their parents, at this age, to do these fun things while my husband and I are able-bodied and younger, again.

We are not taking that for granted.

Friday

I took a day off of work on a Friday and we headed up one of the mountain ranges that surround our valley in California.Kids and parents packed

In discussion with the Cub Scout leaders, we knew that Saturday was going to be our big day together as a group, so we worked our meals and our plans around the group activities.

Three days and two nights in a beautiful, mosquito and bug infested setting.

Tent set upFriday afternoon we set up our tent after we arrived and we took a brief walk around the camping ground to see what we could find.

The paved road led us to a small stream, where we were able to cross it at a fallen tree that had clearly become a little bridge for hikers.

The stream had several small fish in it, and the kids just seemed to love hanging out with their daddy, despite the mosquitos and bugs.

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Our precious 6-year old got a headache, and right away, I knew she hadn’t been drinking that much water – primarily because of the drive down.  (Yes, we purposely don’t give them water bottles in our vehicles when we drive for more than two hours. Don’t judge.)

She ended up crying when we got back to the campsite.  We started giving her water, and after the crying she sat in my lap about to fall asleep.

We continued to give her sips of water and about forty minutes later she said her headache felt better.  I suggested that she lie down and as she took her shoes off to go into the tent, she threw up.

Now, I look at that as a blessing.

Go with me – she threw up outside the tent.  WHEW!  She felt immediately better and continued to drink water as we sat in the tent together looking up at the canopy.  My husband cleaned the outside while I cleaned her up inside the tent and she was ready to eat after about twenty minutes of hanging in the tent with mom.

Our planned dinner consisted of hot dogs for the kids and steak for my husband and I.

Steak and Hotdogs for DinnerThe meat bees were few (praise God!) and the chips went well with the steak.  As this was a Cub Scout event, no alcohol is allowed, so we didn’t have a drink on this trip – but that’s okay.  We want to teach our children that alcohol isn’t needed to have fun anyway (right?)

Saturday

The breakfast we planned was cereal and milk, and we also brought bagels and cream cheese.  I had pre-packaged lunch bags (just gallon Ziploc bags with granola bars, beef jerky, goldfish crackers, etc.), except for the sandwiches.

I made the sandwiches that morning and although I didn’t take a photo of it, one thing I know to do was to put peanut butter on both sides of bread before putting the jelly in the middle.

Helpful hint: The air in the mountains dries out bread within a few minutes so ensure that for every piece of bread you take out, you close the bag.  😉

DeAndrasCrafts kids on the shuttleThere’s a fantastic free shuttle system in the park that travels from the campground to various locations throughout the park, to alleviate the parking problems during the weekend.  Now that I have experienced it, I have a few general bits of wisdom and observations: ShuttleRouteMap_2012_web-Erika

  • The shuttle goes slower on the curves – this helps for a child (like one of mine) that feels nauseous when on curvy roads.  Yes, this also means it takes a little longer to get from one point to the other, but it’s still convenient to get around.
  • The Saturday afternoon shuttle lines were insane.  We waited at least thirty minutes to get on a shuttle from the Giant Forest Museum stopping point to Lodgepole Market, but the kids went inside the museum while some of the moms saved a space in line.
  • The shuttles are extremely full.  They (ahem) push the limit of passengers in one shuttle, but it also means that a large group like ours was able to ride one bus.

But overall, the shuttle was the easiest way to get around, and certainly didn’t cause any headaches of transporting kiddos anywhere.

The entire group all started out on the climb to Moro Rock. The beginning steps of Moro Rock

Per the National Park website, it’s a 400 step climb up to the top.  All my children (ages 10, 6, and 5) were able to do it, but the little girl did not want to get close to the edge and was frightened of the heights.  There’s a bench at the top that she sat on with her older brother while my husband and youngest and I all took photos at the top.  It was a wonderful view and site.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two "ends" of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two “ends” of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

 

The left hand side overseeing the south of Moro Rock  The road to the south valley of California.  The right side of the south valley

One of the best things about this trip was the challenge of the hiking.  The Cub Scouts have to hike a certain amount of miles with a group, even if it’s family, and our scout was able to accomplish all his hiking on this one trip, even though we know he’ll get more hikes in throughout the year.

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock....

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock….  It did go much faster though, as expected.

The next thing we did was take the shuttle to Crescent Meadows.  We had planned on eating lunch there and then dispersing as individual families, but a few of the families stayed together and walked the Crescent Meadow loop.

That was a two-mile round trip hike, that for us included a visit to a tree that the Scouts and siblings were able to climb into.

Cub Scouts in a TreeThe next cool thing was Tharp’s Log, a home built inside a log.  You can find more information about it on Trip Advisor.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group! Tharp's Log in the Sequoia National Forest.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group in front of Tharp’s Log.

We also got to see a bear.

That’s right, a bear.  IN THE WILD.  It was awesome, even if you can’t see it in the photo I took.

There's a bear in the center of this photo. It's brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless. We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

There’s a bear in the center of this photo. It’s brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless.
We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

As I stated above, the toughest part of the whole day was the shuttle ride back to our camp.  After the Crescent Meadow hike, the families went their separate ways and ours chose to have ice cream outside of the Lodgepole store.  We sat around and people watched for about 1/2-hour, which my children have told me that it was one of their favorite things about the whole trip.

<Big sigh.>

Everyone is different, I know.

Dinner on SaturdayWe ate pizza that night that my husband learned to cook on our cast-iron skillet, and all of us enjoyed a restful night of sleep after a big day.

Sunday

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

I had a great night of sleep that night, unlike the first night ~ probably because I was exhausted too!

My children woke up around 7 AM, which is relatively late in the day for all of them.

We packed up camp and had planned to hike to the John Muir Grove in the morning as a family.  We left a little later than we wanted on that hike, but overall, we were able to hike the distance with three children and probably six to seven stops in about three hours.

That includes the time we spent hanging out at the grove as well.  We almost gave up, but ran into some people that passed us and told us it was “around the corner.” It was about a quarter mile away at that point and it was totally worth it!

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

Image source: RedwoodHikes.com

A family selfie on the trail to the John Muir Grove.

A family selfie on the trail near the beginning to the John Muir Grove.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snack, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile. It's a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snacks, beef jerky, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile.
It’s a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove. These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove.
These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption. This is my husband in front of one.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption.
This is my husband in front of one.

I've been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord's greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I’ve been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord’s greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I have a love for these trees that I can only imagine was similar to John Muir himself. I want to see them again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my comforts and enjoy the advantages of living in a home in the city, but there’s truly an un-tapped component of doing a hike like this and looking up at these trees.  It’s indescribable.

My only suggestion is that if you haven’t gone to see the redwoods, then I hope this post helps you try to plan to see them. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

The tops of the redwoods

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Why We Take Our Children Camping

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Take Kids CampingAs always, I know I’m not the first to post about this.

But I have a blog and I love to tell my stories.


We just got back from an amazing trip to the Valley floor of Yosemite National Park in California.

Before I tell you about the awesome time my children had, let me tell you a few fun facts about myself:

(1) I do not like to be dirty for long periods of time. 

In all reality, I can handle the one day of not taking a shower, but the massive amount of dirt that is accumulated while camping is undeniable and hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it.

(2) I hate mosquitoes – and most bugs for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of them, it’s just I don’t like them.

And (3) I am a City girl (or woman if you want to get picky!)A duck swims close by.

I’m not a Country girl.  I’m not a girl that likes large mammals except behind cages.  I don’t particularly like thinking there are bears right outside our tent or tent-like structure.  I can’t stand squirrels.  They are not cute.  I could go on.

Give me my shopping centers and screaming kids in a noisy place or the comfort of my own home any day.


As much as I love nature, I don’t love to sleep in it.  But that’s just me.

So why do I go camping?

I go camping for my children. Playing in the Merced River

There’s a great article on Parentables on “Why I take my kids camping” that I could have written word for word.  Thus, I will not bore you with reiterating the article, but I will mention that I am a believer in the idea that when you are “stuck” with your family for days on end, you gain a new appreciation both for each of them as each of them will for you.

When space is limited and food is only what you brought, my children have a new appreciation for the comforts of home and the playmates their parents gave them.

As with most blog posts, I wrote this post to remember the times of life when things were crazy, and our family made it through anyway.

We had a foster dog that the neighbors came over to take care of, we kenneled our mini-poodle mix, thankfully my work was slow, and my husband had to take his laptop and spend a morning working on his websites.  My knee was still hurting from a “normal” (if there is such a thing) re-occuring injury, I did an enormous amount of pre-planning to keep my children busy at the camp, I had to set up people to call and check on my mother, and my father ended up coming to my house almost everyday to use our Wi-Fi.  (It brought an unexpected extra expense of using AC in a large house for a week we thought it would not be used.  I have a weird father.)

We were in Yosemite for six (6) days.  On one of the days we went to the local “beach” to play and I took this video.  The video is me standing on a bend of the Merced River, that winds its way down Yosemite Valley just outside of the Housekeeping Camp.  I look up and around the area that we chose to play at that day.  It’s about one minute (1-min) long, and at the very end, my youngest son reminds me whey we go camping, in his own way of course.

He just says thank you.  Thank you daddy, for inviting us to Yosemite.


Busy Kids Camping Ideas

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We are going on a week long trip to Yosemite this year.Half Dome from Glacier Point

We’ve done this before, but my youngest two were much smaller (think 16-months and just over 2 years) so it wasn’t really a problem to make them take naps, pick up sticks and rocks and play in the dirt.Keeping Kids Busy Camping

I am one of those moms who loves electronics and devices and know people say my children will need therapy because they will probably grow up thinking thier mom didn’t care about them because I put them in front of a TV for entertainment…etc., etc.

Whatever.  Like YOU know what you’re talking about.

Anyway, the chance to get away from those things also means they will have to keep themselves entertained when my knee hurts or little brother has to take a nap.  As a true vacation from most electronics (we’ll still have cameras) I plan on keeping my various aged children entertained with good old-fashioned arts and crafts that the oldest won’t get too bored with and the younger two won’t be asking me to do all the work.

It’s harder than you think (or maybe some of you know!)

Right now I have a three-year old, a four year old and an eight year old.  The 8 yr-old can read, write, color, and do most projects on his own very well once taught.  The 4-year old is currently very frustrated with the fact that she cannot read and write, and scribbles (almost incessantly) so that she feels she has her words and lists and notes down like her momma.  The 3 yr-old just wants to do whatever his brother and sister are doing.

It’s exhausting some days to get these kids to play together.  My old knee “went-out” on me a couple weeks ago and I know it’s going to be difficult, yes-definitely challenging, to go on hikes and (forget it!) bike rides like we were originally planning on doing.

So here I am, planning on spending more time in the tent-cabin playing with my children.

Here’s the list of ideas I’m working with right now.  I will link back to this thread and post photos of what we actually did on the trip.  For now, it’s just a plan and I’m looking forward to going on vacation!

Note: Yosemite has multiple rules and regulations in the park.  We will be respecting those rules.  These ideas are just to get me started on the planning on what I can do with my kiddos, even if it’s around the house on a walk.

1.  Big Leaf Painting by Kleas

I love painting with the kids.  It’s messy and fun, and might as well preserve a memory of a cool leaf we found on the ground or maybe we’ll make stick paintings.  The ideas can go on and on if I remember to bring paint and a flat surface.  Right now, I’m thinking paper plates will do fine.

2. Personalized Nature Pals by Spoonful.com

A seemingly easy idea, I won’t bring a glue gun, but rather some E6000or Aleene’s tacky glue.  I was planning on bringing glue anyway!

3. Camping Scavenger Hunt by The Creative Homemaker or Outdoor Scavenger Hunt by Today’s Mama

I printed out both of these scavenger hunts, and if we have the chance, we’ll try to do both!

4. I hope to find the Easter eggs and we’ll make Fireflies from Apartment Therapy.

5. I’m going to make my own busy bags similar to these Easy Camping Bags by Capital B.

Mine will include puzzles and planned crafts, as well as standard coloring books.  I have to plan for three different ages of children that all don’t have the same capability, but ALWAYS want to do the same thing.

Here’s my list for my busy kids.  Please feel free to share it!  I know it could be used for more than just camping supplies. kids supplies list to keep busyHopefully, at least once a day, I’m hoping to ask questions about the previous day and get them to hold onto memories in an artistic format, as well as taking photos.

There are so many things I could bring that are small, such as beading supplies, but I’m trying to stick with basics of coloring, writing, and story telling, etc.  My hope is to create a scrapbook of their mementos they created while on the trip and place them with the photos when I get them printed.
This post is just a reminder post for the links I need to look up soon.  The week of vacation is coming by fast so I’ll have to get my bags ready pretty quickly!