How To Set Up Your Campsite

As you might know, @essieburns from The Mommy Diaries and I have taken our families and our blogs on the road to the beautiful Harbor town of Grand Marais, MN.

Essie and I have not been together face to face in a very long (too long) time. We used to live 27 miles from each other and now we live three states away from each other. Such is the deal with pastor’s families.

So, yesterday we both arrived at our adjoining campsites, screamed like schoolgirls, then sized up the nine children. But, after 15 minutes of silliness, it was time to get to work. We had three tents, a screen tent and a dining fly to set up.

This is not my first camping trip, and not our first trip camping with our two families. So, we had worked out some of the kinks. Let me share my camp set up tips with you!

  • Make reservations. Seriously, camping is more popular than ever and don’t expect that you can just roll into a campground, especially on a holiday weekend. We made our reservations a few months ago, and were lucky enough to get two adjoining sites.
  • Scope out your site(s). There are good spots and bad spots within your campsite to pitch your tent. If the previous camper just left, you can see where they left their tent. While that might be a good spot for you to pitch your tent, it is poor camping etiquette. It is better to give grass a chance to recover. Dakotapastor has become very good at picking out tent spots. I tend to pick out “pretty” tent spots that end up flooded. . .or worse. Also, pick a spot to put your table (you can move it) and, if you have a moveable grill (we do) pick out a fire spot.
  • Give everyone a job. We’ve been camping enough that the kids all know what their jobs are. First we set up the tents (we use two for our crew), then the dining fly (we got a replacement for our beloved but discontinued Gander Mountain dining fly), and then the chairs around the fire.
  • Keep little people busy. The twins are cute, and so is Essie’s Emma (she’s my Goddaughter!), but they are less than helpful around camp when we are pitching tents. I bought them an insanely huge box of brand new, pretty, sharp crayons, and some coloring pages. I had trouble finding my skillfully packed coloring pages, but we did get a campground map. This is not our first , or even our second time at this campground, so I handed the girls our map. . . happiness prevailed.
  • Don’t forget to put garbage bags within reach. You would think that camping is a clean vacation. However, nine children and their parents can create a lot, a lot of trash. keep your park beautiful. Pick it up. Toss it out. Our park has recycling and I have several kids that can take care of sorting things out!
  • Have an easy first night meal planned. You are going to be tired. You may have driven many hours to reach your destination. Your first night meal needs to be easy peasy. We had canned corn, brats and canned baked beans. Exciting, no, but quick, yes. Our fancy meals may or may not follow. Want to see how Essie plans her camping meals? (she is way more organized in that department!)
Keep posted for more camping tips, tricks and hints! @Essieburns and I (@dakotapam) are tweeting our vacation with the hashtag #campingtrip2012.



When I Grow Up. . .

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be many different things when I grew up. I wanted to be Miss America (Who wouldn’t? Right?), I wanted to be a teacher, Katie Couric, a mom, a famous actress.

I did not want to become a blogger.

Duh. I’m old. When I was growing up there were no bloggers. There were news columnists…which were close to blogging. But I did not want to be one of those. Columnists have to write. I wanted to talk. I hated writing. I loved to talk (my poor mom).

I still love to talk (my poor friends). And since many of my friends live so far away and they screen their phone calls so well, I’ve turned to blogging.

I’ve grown to love writing. That happened sometime between my Freshman and Senior year in college.

Blogging has allowed me to learn things that I never would have learned otherwise. Things like HTML, public relations, harnessing social media, and ahem, a modicum of organization.

Blogging has introduced me to some fabulous people, both local and across the country. Blogging has served as my virtual back fence.

But blogging still catches me off guard. A few months ago I got a Twitter message from young filmmaker, Matt Fern. He told me that he was doing a series of 2-3 minute profiles of North Dakotans and he would like to profile me and my blog. At first I thought that sounded so silly. After all, I’m just a little mom blogger.

But that is silly talk. Everyone has a story to tell. Even mom bloggers.

So I agreed to let Matt step into my life and film me and my family for a bit. Let me tell you, he does some awesome work! My profile was featured today on the Daily Dakotan You Tube Channel. From the reaction of my friends and readers, I am learning that I am achieving one of the goals that I have set for this blog. I am an encouragement for mothers. And I let moms know that it is ok to be less than perfect.

As a result, I’ve been thrust into some great company. . .several of whom are living my childhood dreams!

Like Miss North Dakota, Ariana Walker!

Make sure that you watch all the way to the end and find out how you can help Ariana make it to the top 15 in the Miss America Pageant coming up!

And then there is one of my other childhood dreams. . .

Television News Reporter! Isn’t Kate’s story awesome?

Another one of my fellow bloggers has been featured as well.

My new goal for when I grow up is to take photos half as well as Clint does!

So, what do you think? Don’t I have some of the coolest neighbors ever? I’m very thankful for this fun experience, thankful for the gifts God has given me to share, and thankful for you too. . .the reason I bother to write at all!