This past weekend, we went camping with some families from our Cub Scout pack at Ft. De Soto National Park right outside of St. Petersburg, Florida. This was our second time camping with Scouts, and it only confirmed to us how thankful we are that we have become part of this group of friends and families.
Chris and I took the day off work on Friday and kept the kids home from school so that we could head over to St. Petersburg around lunch time. We got to the campsites before any of the other families and picked a really good site for our tent.
I continue to be amazed at how helpful Bean and Gracie are at these ages. Not just “helpful” like toddlers and preschoolers, but really, actually helpful. And they really like helping, too, which is the best part because I don’t have to beg or nag them to pitch in. Especially when it involves something fun like camping! Now, cleaning their rooms… not so helpful…
One of the best parts about this campground was that our campsites were situated right along these really thick mangroves. The kids played for HOURS in those things. They climbed all around, found snakes, caught bugs, dug up dead bird bones (so gross, and probably illegal considering we were in a national park…), got dirty, and had a blast.
(My kids are in there somewhere.)
(Oh, there they are.)
That’s one of the best parts of Cub Scouts. I feel more comfortable letting Bean go exploring when he has a larger group of kids with him. If it had been just our family, 1) he probably wouldn’t have been as brave and 2) I probably wouldn’t have let him go alone. But with a herd of kids around, they sort of keep an eye out for each other and it’s nice to not have to constantly be telling the kids “no.” They could really roam and explore at their will.
Another thing I loved about camping was the close proximity to the kids for such a large amount of time. They are getting a little older now, and I am amazed at how independent they have become. They don’t need me to turn on the TV or a movie for them, they don’t need me to get them snacks, they don’t need me to get them dressed or give them a bath. I’m pretty useless as a mom right now.
(Except that I always have M&M’s in the top shelf of the fridge, right out of their reach, just to keep them dependent on me for something…)
Camping with them was so nice to be able to really hang out with them.
We got a new tent for Christmas, and it was awesome. I loved that we all got to sleep together and hang out in the early mornings as a family. As you can tell, Gracie wakes up very differently than Bean does!
On our second day there, we went out to the actual Ft. De Soto to explore. I don’t think there’s anything more fun for boys than a giant fort with real, huge cannons.
After exploring the fort, we headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. The beach is my happy place, so when you take a pretty awesome weekend already and then add the beach to it, I was about as happy of a camper as you can be!
After a big breakfast made by my personal chef…
…we packed up and headed home Sunday morning. Somehow, even with all the effort that goes into camping, we came home feeling energized, rested, and so very, very happy.
Happy campers, indeed.