When I think of camping with kids, I think of them mucking about with sticks and rocks and creeks and mud and fire while the adults sit around playing cribbage or reading fat paperbacks and enjoying wine out of mugs. When I pack for my children to go camping they’re lucky if we bring along a shovel and bucket. That’s one shovel. And one bucket. What a special thing, then, to go camping with Sarah Eakins! She runs a daycare and is ECE certified, yes, but I think her innate child-friendly craftiness runs deeper than her education.
Weeks before we went she was planning things to do, and what she’d need to bring to make them happen. She’s the one who told me that they were bringing a bug-catching box and butterfly net. She’s the one who suggested magnifying classes and bicycles. Esmé probably thinks that Jack and I just naturally bring along such marvelous things, but we don’t. Again, lucky to have a bucket and shovel if it were up to us. One shovel. One bucket.
The kids had so much fun on their bicycles, and I was very glad that we managed to stuff Esmé’s in despite the car being packed to the brim. And when Sarah brought out the makings for toilet-paper-roll binoculars, Esmé was delighted. She checked out a lot of flora and fauna through those bedazzled toilet rolls. They even had a strap to hang them around her neck, and her name on them to boot. And we all know how cool it is to have something with your name on it. Especially when you’re three. And especially when you have a name that is never on anything store-bought. Sarah was also the one who brought all the goodies for the dessert cones. She’s very popular, of course. And not just with the under five set.
Inspired by her, I did think to chuck in a ball, bubbles, and face paints. I know that children can entertain themselves by picking ground-in bottle caps out of the dirt or spinning in circles until they topple over, but I wanted to try it Sarah’s way this time. Pack a few choice items for endless hours of fun. What a brilliant idea indeed! Now I know what I was missing by not having my bike all those times when I went camping as a kid! It opens up the campground in a whole new way! I remember being jealous of the people who had a tangle of bikes tied down the the roof of the camper, and for good reason. So much fun! As for the ball, it came in handy one late evening when Esmé and Finlay were wired and tired and need to do something that didn’t require much thinking. And making crafts outside? That’s a perfect combination of two things that I love. Three, if you count the kids.