The title of this post may be a bit misleading. By calling it our “first” camping adventure, it implies that we will have a second, third, fourth, and so on, camping adventure. After last weekend, though, it will take a lot of convincing to get Vince back on a campground!
First let me say, I love camping. We camped a lot growing up and some of my fondest memories are of exploring the outdoors, sitting by the fire roasting marshmallows, and just being a kid. Vince, however, has never camped in his life (other than a couple of overnight canoe trips we did several years ago). His father is not an outdoorsy person at all and would talk him out of his boy scout camping trips by telling him how awful it would be. I want our kids to experience the outdoors, and after watching an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where they went camping, the girls have been begging us to take them. So I was able to talk Vince into a weekend trip to test the waters. We decided on Willow Beach, Arizona, which is on the Colorado River downstream of the Hoover Dam. It seemed like the perfect spot because it was only an hour away from home, in case it was a complete disaster, and there is a nice little beach that we could all play in. Our friends Heather and Jason, along with their 3 kids came with us and this was their first time camping as a family too.
I’ll start off with the good. The campground was very nice. It was really clean and right across from our camp site there was a building with very clean, modern restrooms, and a row of about 8 individual rooms with a sink, sitting area and a shower. It also had wifi! Not that it mattered much because my phone battery was dead most of the trip, but still nice to know we could get connected if we needed to. There was also a little store with just about everything you could possibly need. The beach was nice and our tent was way bigger than we thought, so we had plenty of room for everyone to get a good night’s sleep.
The beach was very nice. The water was shallow unless you went out really far, so there was plenty of areas for the kids to play in. They played non-stop for hours on the water.
The marina also had a really nice fishing pier. We had purchased fishing poles for the kids and tried our hand at fishing Saturday morning. Unfortunately we didn’t catch anything and the kids got bored after about half an hour, so we’ll have to try that again another time.
Desert camping in the summer was probably the worst idea I’ve ever come up with. I’m not sure what I was thinking. It was SO HOT. To be fair, though, I was under the impression that our camp site was right near the water, when it was actually about a mile up a hill from it. We had to pack up everything and drive down to the water when we wanted to cool off. On top of the heat, at the camp site it was so windy. Like a tornado. We thought we were going to lose our tents. Fortunately we didn’t and down by the water it wasn’t so bad. So we spend 90% of our time at the water and only returned to our camp site when absolutely necessary. It was way too hot for the kids to nap in the tent, so they pretty much didn’t nap the whole trip, which ended up being not too bad because they crashed early both nights and slept like the dead. I also had a lot of fun activities planned for the kids, but it was too hot to do anything but sit in the water.
Most of our meals were a disaster too. I don’t know how people ever cooked anything before modern stoves were invented. Cooking over an open flame is damn near impossible. I made this pizza roll that I saw on Pinterest that was supposed to be super easy and it ended up being burnt like a brick on one side and raw and doughy on the other. Our pancakes for breakfast weren’t much better and then the bag broke on our hamburger patties and all of them fell to the dirt. Good thing we had plenty of snacks and smores!
Great Camping Ideas
There were a few great ideas on saw on Pinterest, especially this one. It was a list of camping supplies to get from the dollar store. We used pretty much everything I bought and I loved that it was all just a dollar, so if it got broken or ruined, it didn’t matter. Some of the ideas I loved were buying battery operated push lights for the tent at night and flashlights for the kids. Those were both a big hit.
I also got these cute little bug kits there that came with a see through container with a magnifying glass, tweezers to pick up the bugs and a net to catch them with too. The kids loved these and caught a ton of bugs.
I also picked up some glow sticks which were so fun for the kids at night.
Overall, I would say there were more good times than bad, but there were definitely those moments where we contemplated packing up and going home. But, for our first trip, I think it was okay. We learned a lot and now I’m in search of the perfect camping spot to redeem myself. We will definitely be going up to the mountains where it is cooler next time and I’ll try some different meal ideas…that is if I can ever convince Vince to do it again!