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