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.
Back before we had kids, Eric and I camped regularly—and spontaneously. We’d throw the tent, sleeping bags and a cooler in our 1985 Volvo station wagon and head into the woods. These days, camping with kids requires a bit more preparation—including figuring out some kids activities that will keep them happy in the camp site. Since the girls love art so much, it made sense to come up with some camping crafts so they could create in nature.
We haven’t gone camping with the kids yet this year, but we camped for Father’s Day last year—and the girls loved doing this camping craft. They did it one morning when they needed a little out-of-the-sun quiet time after hiking, sprinting around the campground, making friends and walking over hot coals. (Just kidding! We’re waiting until they’re at least 6 to walk on the camp fire.)
Camping crafts like this nature collage are a wonderful way to incorporate art into your family camping this summer. Read more →
We stayed at Stub Stewart State Park just one night—a compromise to our usually longer trips since we figured sleep would be such a nightmare—and it’s a good thing, since I sat upright in our Forester with Kiwi alternately breastfeeding and dozing on me the entire night. I didn’t even attempt to get her to nap in the tent because I was tired, not insane.
So for each of her naps, I buckled her into my baby carrier and set off on a hike.
But even in my bleary, exhausted state, I treasured those nap hikes. Read more →
What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than a family camping trip? That was my thought when I booked a campsite at Stub Stewart Park, an Oregon state park less than 45 minutes west of Portland.
As soon as I committed us, though, I had flashbacks to the last time we went camping. (I wrote about my sleepless nights in the tent for PDX Parents’ Happy Campers, a guide to family camping in the Northwest.)
This trip—made slightly more complicated by the addition of a second kid who, btw, wakes every few hours even in the controlled, sound-machined environment of home—didn’t disappoint in the Lack of Sleep Department. But the memories we made camping as a family of four at Stub Stewart more than made up for the dark circles under my eyes.
If you’re looking for kid-friendly camping spots near Portland, here’s the lowdown on family camping at Stub Stewart State Park. Read more →
S’mores, winding down around the camp fire and more stars in the sky I’d ever seen: Camping while I was a kid became one of my favorite family activities.
With the Memorial Day weekend just hours away, I’ve been thinking about those experiences in the great outdoors and planning a few for our family this summer. With Kiwi due in July, we’ll likely be keeping our ambitions modest, but still—our tent and hobo pie makers are calling me.
I wrote a guide to family camping in this month’s Metro Parent (see it here in a link or PDF!) with suggestions of the Northwest’s best yurts, car camping sites and backpacking trips. I also gathered great advice from family camping experts on how to make outdoorsy trips fun for the whole crew.
“Hiking with kids is all about having them have an experience outside, so it’s not about how far you go or the destination. When you go with the kid agenda, it’s about just being outside and having fun.”
Summer in Oregon is pretty much the best time/place combo I can think of. With the state’s beautiful weather, easy access to swimming holes and unbeatable hot-weather harvests, it’s no wonder we get a ton of visitors this time of year.
It’s just mid-August and a slew of family members from afar have made the summer even more wonderfully full.
Eric’s parents drove their mini-RV out from Michigan. They hadn’t seen Peeper since January, so she was quite a bit different! They witnessed her first solid food then; this go around, they joined us for her first camping trip. We also visited the zoo, though Peeper was more interested in playing with leaves and bark chips than watching the animals. And we captured a rare moment: Peeper with all four of her grandparents.
My brother, aka Uncle Fuzzy, jetted out to surprise a friend for a camping bachelor party. Thankfully he had a few days to hang with Peeper, too. We went berry picking and played at the park, but the highlights were tickle fights and roughhousing at home. Even better: Uncle Fuzzy will be out later this summer, too!
My sister from another mister Monica and her son T joined us for Peeper’s birthday celebration in Welches. We discovered an island along the Old Salmon River Trail and plotted a camping trip at the secret spot. T pretended to fish in the creek, and Peeper pointed at the water a whole lot.
My younger sister and her husband moved from Berkeley to Seattle this summer. Now that they live much closer, that means more games of chase and high fives lessons for Peeper.
We also visited Mr. T for his big 4th birthday party. He loved his superhero costume (which I ordered from the Etsy shop Fun Kidz Stuff) and his alien-themed party in the park. I enjoy eating blue-frosted cupcakes and wearing bobble alien headbands as much as the next guy. But most of all I loved being with those I care about.
Have you had family visitors this summer? What parts of your town or state do you show off?