My husband loves camping, he even did Outward bound, so it is only natural that I was dragged kicking and screaming to a camp site at the beginning of our relationship. I adore hiking, love it, and still do it with our son, but camping was not something I had planned on attempting so quickly after delivering. I had my reservations, but 3 months after my whole ordeal, I was game, we had done it so many times before, I was pretty sure we could do it with a dog and a baby.
We went from a 2 man (and I mean barely 2 man tent designed for your pack), to a 6 man tent, hey why not, we needed the room. I was still pretty fragile, so my husband went out and bought me a small blow up mattress. My husband did his research – it was close enough to Vancouver that we could get back easily, and it was dog and kid friendly, great, I am into that, how bad could it be.
We arrived, it was a stunning and pretty hot day. We had a fabulous view, but where exactly was the family friendly washroom? Where the heck were the trees, giving you a little bit of privacy from one camp site to the next. I tried putting that aside. I was ordered to sit, and nurse our son and just enjoy the view. Alright, I can do that.
Some of the cheap fancy tents – (which incidentally we were not used to) need major manuals and diagrams to instruct the poor sucker who has to put it up. While all the setting up was taking place, I noticed a very large group of people descend all around us. What was once quiet, became a very busy, almost circus like production. There is something a little odd about sleeping outside with thin layers of nylon as privacy. Many begin to speak like they are sound proof thinking you cannot hear a word they are saying, meanwhile you can hear people have sex, babies crying, dogs barking etc.
It turned out the massive group had friends, and they were all Russian, very nice, if you weren’t already bagged and could join them for a few drinks. The loud boisterous conversations went into the wee hours of the morning. Our son was sleeping beside me on a mat, thinking it was play time chatting away, he refused to sleep. Our dog paced around, she refused to sleep, she had her own portable crate, but she was cold and the noise was keeping her up. Did I mention the washroom? Well, they were actually outhouses, and there was no running water. This wouldn’t have bothered me if I didn’t have to pee every 30 minutes from all of the water I had to consume to keep up with milk production.
By 6am, we had a break in the Russian party. I had to get up for the 19th time to go to the loo, as I walked to the outhouse I noticed that many of the partiers had simply passed out with their drinks in hand. I had a major headache, but wanted to make the best of the situation. When I got back to our tent, my husband looked at me and said “o.k I will make a run to Tim Hortons (if you don’t know what Tim Hortons is, well, I feel sorry for you!).” At that point I kissed him and thought he was the best husband ever. I am pretty sure during that drive he grieved over that fact that this would be our first and last attempt at camping for a while.
My advice – think about facilities (my husband often forgets I need them), find out what their definition of child friendly really is. In Quebec, most camp sites have full family washroom, which include change table, shower and toilet. In BC, we discovered that family friendly meant that there were activities like movies, badminton etc. for older kids. Outhouses aren’t a big deal, most are very clean, but when you are breast feeding, you sort of need to be next to a washroom throughout the night.
Unless you are an experienced camper, don’t try your first time with an infant, you will be so turned off of camping you will never do it again. We are actually heading out this summer on a hiking/camping extravaganza!