On October 2, 3, 4, 2009, we went camping with 8 other homeschooling families at Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland. It was our first time camping since Chris’ birthday when we were pregnant with Monkey, so a long time ago. Our wonderful neighbors went on the great American Camping adventure this summer, and it was “sponsored” by REI, so we got to borrow their cool tent and sleeping bags and air mattresses, an air mattress from Friend Erin, a cooler from another neighbor, and we were ready! We supplied the children to this grand adventure, that was about it.
Buds worked from home on Friday morning so I could pack us up. And it truly took all day to pack us up. Washington’s Army packed up much more quickly than we did.
We got set up at the campground on Friday night by 6 or so. It was a little rainy, and Buds was very frustrated with the fire making. We learned later that our camping neighbor, Brian, takes a blowtorch on camping excursions, so I think that will be on our camping packing list.
I’m trying to type this post up several weeks after the event, which is not good because my memory is not what it once was. So, rather than write specifics about our time, I have to write impressions:
First night: I started griping about the cold before we had even settled into bed. “Buds, we are going to be freezing. Buds, we are going to be freezing. Buds, can you do something about the cold? Buds, the children are going to be freezing.” Buds is more of a mind to wait and see how things go, but we did all end up being freezing. And–good to know–Friend Erin’s air mattress will comfortably sleep 5 people if all of them are more interested in surviving by huddling into one small pile than in turning over or having feelings in their limbs.
Second day: Beautiful hike up to a waterfall, hence the name Cunningham FALLS State Park. Monkey has always been a mountain goat, but this was only the second time the Buster really got to strap on his crampons and go for the gusto. I thought Yessa and I would sit and watch from the other side of the little stream, but she was not having that. We were off and up the rocks shortly after the first three family members. It was a gorgeous day, and such a feeling of accomplishment to climb up the sun-warmed rocks. Buds and Monkey walked back with our camping friends who had walked over from the campgrounds, and the two little ones and I drove back. We stopped at the store for more firewood, and also purchased the largest Ice pops I have ever seen. Of this variety, except they were as tall as Yessa.
Much of this day was spent playing on the rocks behind the campsites. Louisa, who organized the trip, made sure we were by these great rocks, and the children loved them. We also played lots of Star Wars using the plastic T-ball bats I had brought with us. Buster had seen another boy in our group with a light saber, and that become a dear wish for on the drive home–to stop and acquire a light saber.
Monkey and Yessa and I also spent a lot of time with a fellow Brownie whose mom, Laura, had planned ahead and brought supplies for the girls to complete two try-its while we were camping. The girls dug in the dirt, made Girl Scout Stew (made by Girl Scouts, not of them), pretended to be different parts of a storm, came up with different ways to use bandannas, and practiced knot tying.
Buds made a fantastic fire that night, which was great, except that we all gathered at someone else’s campfire for s’mores and campfire songs. Yup, we truly sang around the campfire. Laura had the “Wee Sing” campfire songs book, which I thought was impressively prepared of her. After that grand time, we returned to our campsite, where the remnants of the perfect fire still smoldered. Then we settled into our snuggly beds–rearranged by Buds and the children during the day so they wouldn’t have to listen to me gripe and moan and shiver about the cold again.
Everyone slept great.
Sunday we had a group picture, ate breakfast all together, then each family packed up and went their own way.
We made a side excursion on the way home at the Catoctin Furnace. The remnants of the “Iron Master’s” house are also still there, and we enjoyed talking about what the house must have been like in all its glory.
One final stop at Party City for a light saber and we were on our way home. All three kids fell asleep at some point, indicating how fun-filled the weekend had been.
And, as is our way, Buds and I spent much of the drive talking about how we could make camping easier the next time, and what we needed to purchase to do it all again–except without having to raid the neighbors’ homes this time.