The Professor Goes West//Day Two//Camping with Little Ones

Day Two–Monday, May 21, 2018

We woke up to a cool, crisp morning, sunshine streaming through the trees in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The mountains are covered in tall pines. Our campsite is right above a beautiful, sparkling lake that we have to climb a hill in order to see.

We spent the morning driving through the Black Hills to get to Mt. Rushmore–the American Icon of four presidents’ faces carved into the granite of a mountainside with dynamite. T, the two year old, was not impressed. We later all agreed that the stunning natural beauty of this landscape surpasses the work of dynamite and calculated blasts.

We lunched at Sylvan lake which sparkled reflecting the stunning blue of the sky. We hiked a trail that curved around the lake and took us over and through giant six storey tall rocks.

It took the professor years to convince me to go camping with him as a family. My only previous experience had been as a Girl Scout with an inadequate sleeping bag on the hard ground. He, on the other hand, is an Eagle Scout with much experience in pitching tents, camping cooking, roughing it, and knew all the supplies we might need. I eventually agreed on one condition, that I be neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.

We made our first attempt when my youngest was two years old—our others were four, six, and eight. He slept in a travel crib. It went surprisingly well. He did wake up for a stretch and needed to be resettled—but we made it through the night. I personally would not attempt taking ones younger than two camping. Even at two we had to keep close tabs on him as he charged around the campsite, close to the road, and made mad dashes towards the nearby river.

Our trip this past summer was much smoother with the kids three, five, seven, and nine. The older ones were able to help with the setting up and breaking down, but most of all with helping the little ones stay happy and out of trouble. And all the kids slept and stayed in their sleeping bags.

The reason I like to wait has more to do with how my babies sleep—in cribs out of my room after they have outgrown the co-sleeper bassinet. I suppose a co-sleeping family might do well on a queen air mattress. I have a friend who told me about using a camping rocking chair for breastfeeding at night while camping. Other ideas for taking babies camping would be to bring a Pack ‘n Play for the baby to go in at the campsite outside or a travel baby jumper.

I am glad that I gave it a try when I did. I look forward to many adventures to come!

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