Handmade camping dolls make for an unforgettable summer

When Eric’s parents were visiting Oregon this summer, we took a camping trip at Milo McIver State Park. It was the girls’ first camping trip of the year, and I wanted to help make it special. (Yes, I know the very fact of spending all day outside and roasting marshmallows make camping special without any extras. But still.) I pulled inspiration from one of our favorite books, Lulu & Pip, and made camping dolls for the girls.

The camping dolls were an instant hit. The dolls went with us everywhere, from a hike to the camp chairs beside the fire. They got dirty. They got chewed on. They earned their title of camping dolls.

And my hope was realized: The camping dolls helped make our camping trip unforgettable.

Handmade camping dolls made a recent family camping trip even more fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Handmade gifts just take longer

Months ago, I was inspired to make the girls a doll each for their birthdays. Bit by bit, in stollen moments, I worked on the craft. I researched patterns (I used this simple-to-follow and free doll pattern from Crazy Little Projects), bought fabric and hauled out my sewing machine.

I hadn’t sewed in years, evidenced by my girls freaking out at my first stitches. (“What’s that noise?!”) But I wasn’t too rusty, and I found I quickly slipped into “the zone” of creativity.

I made my girls handmade camping dolls for their first family camping trip of the year. They loved them! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Yet life conspired against my completing the camping dolls. Kiwi has had a more than 2-month stretch of really terrible sleep, which eats up almost every evening. Summer is busy with parties and out of town visitors. Before I knew it, Peeper’s fourth birthday came and went, then Kiwi’s second birthday passed—with no camping dolls as gifts.

But I found I wasn’t only decent at sewing curved lines and following a pattern; I was also good at accepting good enough. And good enough was realizing that creating a handmade gift takes longer than ordering something off Amazon Prime.

Finally finishing the camping dolls

Since the girls’ birthdays slipped by without a finished camping doll, I set a new goal: complete the craft before our camping trip.

Miraculously, I achieved it.

Handmade camping dolls made a recent family camping trip in Oregon even more fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When we arrived at our camp site at Milo McIver, I told the girls I had a surprise for them. They opened up a gift bag to find the camping dolls and the book Lulu and Pip. In the story, a city girl goes on her first camping trip and brings along her doll. They dive into adventure—picking up toads, climbing trees and even befriending a donkey.

The five of us—me, Peeper, Kiwi, and their camping dolls, whom they named Lulu and Pip, of course—immediately sat down to read the book. Under tall Doug first and amid the faint scent of campfire cooking, we cozied up together and spent an unforgettable moment immersed in camping perfection.

Camping dolls make family camping even better. These handmade gifts were such a treat for the girls when we camped! Ten Thousand Hour MamaHandmade camping dolls made a recent family camping trip in Oregon even more fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

New members of the family

The girls played with their camping dolls the rest of our trip. Kiwi, especially, hardly let go of her doll, Pip. She chewed on the camping doll’s arms, and the toy was soon filthy. But that’s ok—that’s what a camping doll is meant for!

I think, too, the dolls helped the girls adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings and routine of camping. We hadn’t camped since last year, and we’d never been to this campsite. But with their trusty camping dolls at their sides, Kiwi and Peeper seemed braver.

Handmade camping dolls made a recent family camping trip in Oregon even more fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Ready for our next family camping trip

Now that we’re home, the camping dolls Lulu and Pip are still a big part of our day-to-day. The handmade dolls sit at the table during lunch, stand in as princes and snuggle with the girls at bedtime.

I’m not sure if we’ll have another chance to go family camping this summer. But if my guess is right, Lulu and Pip will see at least a few indoor forts. And there’s always next camping season.

Don’t worry, camping dolls. We’ll go camping again soon.

Handmade camping dolls made a recent family camping trip in Oregon even more fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

If you’re heading on a family camping trip, check out my post on super-simple camping crafts!

Camping crafts like this nature collage art project keep kids happy when you're family camping—and require almost no prep or supplies! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

5 thoughts on “Handmade camping dolls make for an unforgettable summer

  • August 10, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I bet it was so special for them to have new toys just for the camping trip! They’ll remember that for a long time! And love those dolls, very crafty of you!

  • August 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I love this idea! They turned out so cute and it’s such a meaningful gift that you handmade them yourself. You are inspiring me to make one for Piper!

    • August 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Ooh, I’d love to see the doll if you end up making one! The pattern I used was quite easy.

  • August 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    These are so beautiful! And such precious mementos for the girls to maybe pass on one day… <3

    • August 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Thanks Sahar! They may end up so dirty and “worn in” from all the outdoor play that no one will want them after a while, haha! 😉


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