Last week we attended Family Camp. I was geeked up to go and the kids were equally thrilled at the opportunity. My husband on the other hand had the assumption that Family Camp was somehow very similar to him being in the field and all he had was flashbacks of his military career with him sleeping outside in a tent and keeping watch at night lol. I’d attended camp as a child and I knew the camp he was thinking about and the camp I had experienced were two totally different things. I decided to let him see for himself just how great this experience would be, especially as a family. What I didn’t know was just how much my children would benefit from it and how much joy it would bring us all. Here are 7 things my children learned at family camp.
How To Bond
If you’ll allow me to be honest my kids bicker and argue at least 70% of the time. Sometimes watching them disagree about everything makes me feel like a failure as a mother. I really want them to be close and take care of each other which they do but when I see them not getting along it sends my anxiety into overdrive. I don’t have close relationships with my siblings but it is imperative to me that they are close and always look after each other because one day they’ll grow to be adults and I won’t be here to referee or remind them how important they are to each other. Gratefully camping together as a family laid a really good foundation that didn’t involve me coaxing them to bond; they did it all on their own. I watched as they listened to each other, helped each other and cheered each other on. I really don’t even remember hearing them argue at all the entire time we were there.
How to Unplug
I have a rule when we go on vacations “No Electronics.” except my phone cause you know I gotta document for the gram 😉 . I try my best to keep the boys off Fortnite and Vayda from taking selfies on my Snapchat during family vacations because I really want them to immerse themselves in whatever it is we are doing so I really try to stand by the no electronics rule. The only exception to the rule is if the travel time is extremely long and that applies to both flights and car rides.
Luckily the camp was only 3 hours away from us so no electronics were necessary. While we were at the camp I never heard the kids complain not one time about not being able to watch TV or play video games. No one mentioned the lack of internet or anything like that. The only complaint I heard from the kids was that they didn’t have enough time to do all of the activities scheduled each day.
To Be Grateful
During our camping experience I won’t lie I learned a lil bit too. See it’s been a lil minute since I’ve been camping like this, actually the last time I was camping like this I was 11! The last time I went camping with my family it was much more of a glamping experience and that’s what I was expecting this time around but bayybee I forgot the toilet and showers were outside. So to say I was humbled is an understatement. I tried to find hotels nearby when we first got there but my husband refused to allow me to book a hotel because he wanted us to have the full experience (eye roll emoji). I honestly think he was getting a kick out of watching me suffering. The kids were just as shocked as I was about the toilet and shower situation but they took it much better than me. I was whining and complaining about the late night bathroom runs and the outdoor showers but they took it on the chin and did what they had to do. They did express how happy they were to have a bath at home after the trip was over though.
To Be Patient
Let me tell you, my kids were so excited to go fishing, I bought them all their own individual fishing rods and tackle boxes, and they were ready to go. They talked about fishing from the time I walked in the house with the fishing rods till the time we actually made it to the lake to fish. They were also a little pissed because we missed the first day of fishing because we were so busy doing all the other activities but the next day we geared up to go fishing. Before we made it to the lake I tried to warn them that they may not catch a fish right away.
No one listened of course, it also didn’t help that when we walked up to our fishing spot another family had just reeled in a fish so their expectations were extremely high. Once we got their fishing lines ready, picked our spots and baited our hooks we waited, and waited and waited some more. They were not happy to say the least. They had the impression that you cast the rod and then the fish hops on your hook and that was the furthest thing from the truth.
In the midst of this Vayda had an emotional breakdown when she realized that worms had to be sacrificed in order to catch fish. She’s extremely emotional when it comes to animals so I knew she would struggle with this process. She initially banned any of us from using the worms as bait but I had to explain to her that everyone has to make their own choices and that she should choose what’s best for her. She still wasn’t satisfied with that but once I explained to her that the next time we could fish without live bait she felt a little better.
We never actually caught any fish and they all were highly disappointed but they eventually came to understand that fishing takes time and patience. We plan to go fishing at least one more time this summer so please keep your fingers crossed that we’ll catch something the next time.
New Skills and Talents
Like most moms I truly believe my children are the most talented beings on this earth. I do, I really do, but watching them excel at things they’ve never experienced before has me totally convinced. The main reason I wanted to take them camping is because I knew they would have the opportunity to do things that they wouldn’t normally do at home or on a regular beach vacation.
At camp they got to experience archery, zip lining, different crafts and they even built a boat out of cardboard and paddled in it before it sank lol. My first time experiencing archery was when I attended camp as a child and I enjoyed it so and watching them experience archery for the first time and actually be really good at it was delightful! They also zip lined which is something they’ve been begging to do so that was a real treat for them. In addition to that they rock climbed like rock stars. Vayda completed each course, even the hardest ones and Zion was right behind her.
Speaking of Rock climbing Zaniel had a really difficult time the first day he went rock climbing. We cheered him on but he eventually gave up. He made it halfway up before he decided to call it quits. When he came down he looked really defeated and I felt really bad for him but I encouraged him to try again another time. The next day he had a very different attitude and the look of determination in his eyes. It didn’t take much convincing on my part because the man had a plan and he was not going to let anyone stop him. I think seeing his sister and brother do it helped him to believe that it was definitely possible so I’m really happy he decided to push through and accomplished his goals.
To Make Hard Decisions
The itinerary was jam packed. I personally enjoy knowing what we are doing every moment of travel and the camping itinerary did not disappoint. There came a time when there were so many activities happening that some hard decisions had to be made. We left it up to the kids to decide what activities that we’d do and which ones we would have to forfeit. I won’t lie it was pretty tough, I personally was upset that we missed rocket building and invisible ink making but hey I had to roll with the masses. I’m sure the opportunity to make these hard decisions helped them to realize how important it is to prioritize and I’m sure they’ll utilize those skills as they get older.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to family camp please do it. Your kids will learn so much and the family bonding is priceless. This family camp was perfect for my family as all we had to do was show up and participate, I didn’t have to do any of the activity planning or organizing and that was a relief. I was thrilled with everything my kids learned and I’m hopeful that we can make this trip an annual thing. If you’re in the Illinois area and interested in attending a family camp look up 4H Memorial Camp and tell them I sent you.