We went camping over the weekend. Yep, it’s true. We haven’t been camping in years. But our kids are getting to such great ages for it (or so I thought) and I’ve been totally wanting to take them to see this great place called Slide Rock up near the red rock mountains where there’s a naturally made water slide right in a shallow river bed. I gave Dave the business about these great family memories we would make, etc. so he was a great sport, did all the shopping, helped load up the car and we were off along with my great brother Josh. Let me tell you, we learned a few new rules we will strictly adhere to for next time (don’t worry honey, not any time too soon). Ok, here they are:

1) Don’t leave your home at the perfect timing to hit rush hour traffic to get out of the city. This will result in A) a grumpy husband who has to drive in the horrible stop-and-go mess (ok, he wasn’t that bad, but man I sure was glad I wasn’t driving), B) a very sad baby who screams in her car seat furthering the amount of grumpiness in the car, and C) an extremely late arrival into camp.

2) Don’t arrive at your packed camp site with five kids at 9:45 at night. I’m sure the other campers already asleep were so excited to have us join them! If you do arrive that late, at least know how the heck to set up your tent so you can do it in the pitch dark with the small aid of a three-year-old waving a flashlight around in your eyes trying to “help out.”
3) Don’t choose a camp site infested with skunks who are not afraid to walk right up to humans. This will inevitably result in at least a couple of your daughters hyperventilating in their dreams about skunks out to get them, and will keep you up most of the night.

4) Don’t forget to bring skewers to roast your marshmallows for s’mores, especially after you have talked the whole trip about how delicious those s’mores will be. This will result in having to walk up to numerous neighboring campers trying to scavenge some sticks from them as they’re trying to head to bed.
5) Don’t let your baby drink a ton of water on the way to camp (while trying to appease her in the rush hour traffic). This will result in devastated screaming in the middle of the night since she is completely soaked through all her layers of warm clothing. This will further result in more and more screaming as you try to change her while she’s trying to figure out where in the heck she is. Again, the neighbors with nothing but their thin tents to protect them from the noise may not appreciate you.
6) Make sure you remember where you put your flashlight when you go to sleep so that you can see where you’re going to dodge the skunks when you try to go help your baby in the middle of the night. (Lucy slept in her pack-and-play in the car right by the tent.)

7) Don’t sleep with your baby on an air mattress after you’ve calmed her down if you’re nervous she’ll wake up again and wake everyone around her again. This will result in a very cranked neck from trying to stay in the same position hour after hour so as not to wake her while you’re wide awake listening to the skunks rummaging through your camping neighbor’s trash. (Although I must say it’s very fun to sleep with a baby cuddling in next to you…hearing her soft breathing in your ear…but enough, I’m talking about the bad stuff right now!)

8) If you’re really excited about going to a specific place that involves getting wet and swimming, check the weather report before you go. The experience may not be quite as you pictured it with pouring sheets of rain.
Ok, after having listed all the bad stuff, I have to say, this trip was awesome and yes, it is already a great family memory. (the bad stuff becomes the great, funny stuff pretty quickly) You have to have some crazy stuff go on to really appreciate the better stuff, right? It was so beautiful to wake up and see that gorgeous place we had tried to make ourselves at home in in the dark. We were surrounded by pine trees and the air was so refreshingly cool.
We got to have breakfast and a second helping of s’mores before the rain clouds moved back in again. Since we were getting soaked anyway, our trip to Slide Rock after breakfast was chilly, but fine, and hey, no crowds. I think the rain made the colors come out more which you can’t really tell from the pictures. It was gorgeous and Josh and I were loving life with our cameras strapped around our necks…clicking away at everything in sight.

Here are the “do’s”:

1) Bring your experienced camping brother with you who is also adored by your children.

Do you think they like him?? This is in the nearby town we
explored for a little bit in between rain bursts.

2) Let your kids use a pocket knife…Dave showed them how to do it and one of the kids favorite things about the trip was getting to make their own sharp sticks. I’m not sure how we managed to get home without one of these in our possession or without someone getting seriously wounded by these babies.

3) Let your kids’ imagination run wild. The kids found their own “secret clubhouse” across the creek and begged to stay another night so they could further explore. In the tiny bit of dry time we had they came up with not only the “clubhouse” but also the “log mansion” the “magical stairway” and a variety of other imaginative places they wished they could spend more time in.

Notice the “do” list is much shorter than the “don’t” one. Maybe we’ll be able to reverse that next time…or will we want to?? I’m kind of liking the “don’ts” now that we’re far enough removed from them.

I think Elle was the first one awake (besides me who had been up all night anyway)…I had to snap a picture in that great tent light.
hubba hubba…now that is a good looking man!

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  1. I’ll take these helpful hints with us on our ward campout in a few weeks! I might even post a few pictures afterwards if our family doesn’t look too scary in the morning…curly, frizzy, bedhead hair and no makeup could be a sight nobody wants to see. Your family on the other hand looks GREAT and I’m so glad you had a blast! You go girl…and boy.

  2. I loved this post! Very cute 🙂 The text and photos really complimented each other. Unfortunately, most of my camping experiences have been like this – but they are always memorable! Now that I think about it – I actually had one of these experiences with you when the RM’s all went snow camping! That is a good memory even though I froze my tuchas off!

  3. Did you plan their outfits? Cuz it’s so darn cute! AND I am in love with that picture of Lucy crying. How fun!!!

    Oak Creek/Sedona is one of my favorite places on earth!!

  4. Don’t you think your list of “don’ts” is what will make this a memorable camping trip? I still remember camping with my family when “stunks” (as my sister Emily called them) circled our tents all night, it was freezing cold and there were eight us packed into a six man tent. None of us got any sleep that night, but we totally remember that fun and crazy camping trip when we were all together as a family.

    What a fun post to read – and great pictures, as usual.

  5. All those things you wrote about are what build the family memories the good and the bad. Sounds like fun. Camping is always an adventure and the thing about it,is the kids love it so much. My kids always want to go camping. I myself am only good for camping 1 to 2 nights. I can’t handle the sleep deprivation.

  6. It’s so true. You never remember the bad stuff, It becomes funny. When I think back to all my family vacations I think about being mugged (super exciting! Poor dad…) Evacuatied from a hotel in Hawaii due to a fire alert caused by my sister, etc…
    Those are the stories everyone loves to tell.

    And I LOVE the pictures, especially the one of lucy smiling and the one of your four in front of all those trees. Beautiful!

    If ever we travel to AZ I would love to get a portrait taken from you, or swap talents?

  7. Okay, so things weren’t quite as smooth as I described them on my blog, but the whole trip was off the charts memorable. Let’s do it again!

  8. Julie, for sure we’re swapping if you come to AZ. Or maybe we should come to Connecticut. Although we’ve never lived there Dave for some reason has in his mind that it’s the ideal place to live!

  9. yea i think josh sounded alittle more optimistic in his post on the same subject but i have to say that you are hilarious! it so fun to read this from two different points of view. i can tell either way that you made memories and had a bunch of fun.

    it was so fun to meet you the other night. i love putting a face (well at least a real one and not a picture) to a name. i’m sure we’ll see more of eachother. 🙂

  10. Shawni–Thanks for your comment on your post. I love your blog too, and although it’s been said many many times, let me just say that you take such incredible pictures. Your camping trip looks awesome! What a great mom you are!

  11. Your kids are sooo cute! We just went camping over Labor Day and I loved your decription because that is exactly ours! It is a pain to get there but once you do it is go great! We cheated though and took an RV which made it 10 times better that settin up the camp. I love reading your posts..they make me laugh! Thanks!

  12. Shawni,

    I got a blogger account so I can post a comment on your blog. LOL Thank you for your sweet words on my blog. Your account of this camping trip is so funny. When you describe putting that tent up in the dark, I was cracking up. It was so nice to meet you last weekend. Your pictures are all so beautiful. Take care and I am sure we’ll be seeing you again.

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