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Exploring God's Creation in Nature and Science
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Dawn
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Posted: May 07 2006 at 4:16pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

I started to reply to this thread about naturalist books, when I realized I was asking a whole new question, so here it is:

I need advice on how to feel more comfortable out "in the wild" ...

Strangely enough, even though I post and blog a lot about nature study, I really am not what you'd call an "outdoorsy" person ~ just not a big "hiking-camping" kind of gal.

I do absolutely *love* nature and nature study. I'm o.k. with bugs and dirt and frogs and even snakes. But I mainly keep to that backyard/small creatures/home-in-an-hour kind of nature. Overnight camping or all-day hikes ~ I'm just not there yet. And I am beginning to worry I'm doing my kids a disservice ...

Because my boys and dh are chomping at the bit to "camp and hike" and do all those rugged LL Bean kinds of things ~ build fires, climb rocks, go canoeing, etc. I'm working on it, but I'm still kind of timid ...

For example, we go "camping" in our backyard ~ tent and all ~ but it's almost overnight, not quite. And we go "hiking" a lot, but we always keep to the well-established path through our woods.

I would love advice from those ladies here who camp and hike and canoe and climb rocks on getting out there and feeling brave about moving out of my backyard and into the BIG woods ...


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Posted: May 07 2006 at 4:27pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

Exactly what kind of advice are you looking for? Gear, locations, activities?
I would advise starting out by going to a campground at a nearby national park, state park, or similar setting where there will be others camping as well, established sites, facilities, and marked trails. Many of these have fun interpretive programs run by the rangers, campfire programs, horseback riding, ranger-led hikes,etc. It is definitely a good way to get your feet wet and ease into more rugged experiences.
Borrow a big tent and sleeping bags, bring plenty of hot cocoa and marshmallows, let dc cook hot dogs on a stick, and enjoy!

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Posted: May 07 2006 at 4:53pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

lapazfarm wrote:
Exactly what kind of advice are you looking for? Gear, locations, activities?


Gosh, I guess everything! I would appreciate any advice (and thank you for yours, Theresa).

So what is it that holds me back? I guess my main issues revolve around safety and control. I'm baring all here ladies ...

Canoeing ~ we donít swim that well, what if we tip over?

Hiking ~ what if we get lost, or meet a mountain lion?

Tenting ~ what if my 4 yo with PDD-NOS wakes up in the middle of the night, walks out of the tent and we don't wake up?

Campsites ~ what if someone there is not safe to be around?

Isolation ~ what if someone gets hurt or lost or sick and we can't get help? Or help can't reach us?

I probably read too many news stories! And I sound ridiculously paranoid, I know. Like you said, Theresa, I need to get my feet wet ... I love the activities you mentioned (especially the hot dogs and cocoa ).

One idea we're kicking around ... my in-laws have an RV and are always asking us to go camping with them (of course thatís a whole other kettle of fish) but they also have offered to let us borrow it for a weekend, and that sounds doable ...

Is anyone else here a reluctant camper, or is it just me?


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Posted: May 07 2006 at 5:16pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

Dawn,
I understand your fears-really! But all of them truly can be overcome. Here's how:
Canoeing-always wear life jackets
Hiking-always stay on well marked trails
Tenting-mom or dad sleeps right in front of the door
Campsites-park rangers are trained police officers.
Isolation-don't venture too far from campgrounds and park rangers and first aid kits.

After awhile you will know when it is ok to venture out further and be braver. But at first I would stick to those guidelines.
And don't forget the s'mores!

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Posted: May 07 2006 at 5:32pm | IP Logged Quote Taffy

Dawn,

I second everything Theresa has said and I also have the same concerns with my oldest having PDD-NOS. (Once when he was only 6 and not very verbal at all, we were on our way through Jasper and he decided to go for a walk on his own! I literally had him out of my sight for only one minute and he was gone! Jasper, Alberta, in the middle of the summer, is not a good place to be lost. Turns out he wanted ice cream and that's where my husband found him. Thankfully, he's learned not to wander off like that anymore. If you're son starts doing this then I'd strongly recommend against camping.)

Our PDD ds now doesn't take off anymore but we still are cautious. He sleeps the farthest away from the door and dh and I are closest to the door. It's pretty hard to sneak out of a tent, we've found. The zipper is harder to open in the dark and there's all these sleeping bodies to trip over!

One thing that's really helped us break the ice is backyard camping! Just set up the tent in the backyard and pretend you're not home! This gives you a safe place to test out your camping skills and helps relieve some of the anxieties. And the s'mores still taste good in the backyard!

Another thing that we do, which is not always practical though, is to have our dog with us. She's the lightest sleeper of all of us and will alert us is something is awry.

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Posted: May 07 2006 at 7:04pm | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

Dawn, most campgrounds are so tame there simply won't be any worries. Many are more like hotels than campgrounds.

Isolation is nearly impossible, unless you go way out into the wild. Some campgrounds are so packed you'll be wishing for isolation.

Try cabin camping first. If you need suggestions in your area, I know a few. My mother is a big RVer, and she has a great time with friends.

Camp with someone who knows the ropes , when you head out for the first time.

Forget your fears and have a good time.

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Posted: May 07 2006 at 9:39pm | IP Logged Quote Taffy

Macbeth,

Just as an aside, I grew up in northern British Columbia, Canada. There are a plethora of very isolated campgrounds there. Only outhouses and no electrical hook-ups. But the clearest water and lakes and breath-taking beauty!

AH, the memories!

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 4:55am | IP Logged Quote Dawn

Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I feel better just airing out my anxieties; listing them and addressing them helps with the control thing.

Honestly, I do think for me, most of what makes me feel hesitant is the age and the behavior of my youngest right now. I can't say for sure that he won't walk off, so it would be constant supervision and it would be hard to relax. Not that you ever take your eyes off a 4 yo anyway ... maybe if we do start small and keep the visit short, it would be manageable.

Macbeth, I would love to hear suggestions for RV and cabin campsites in my area. When I was a Girl Scout we camped in cabins a couple of time and it was around here somewhere. Cabins sound more do-able with my little guy.

Thanks again!

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 9:56am | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

Taffy wrote:
Macbeth,

Just as an aside, I grew up in northern British Columbia, Canada. There are a plethora of very isolated campgrounds there. Only outhouses and no electrical hook-ups. But the clearest water and lakes and breath-taking beauty!

AH, the memories!


Taffy, one of the best camping experiences of my life was a two week visit to Canada...no toilets (dig your own) no facilities, bears everywhere, the best fishing, canoeing, birding, batting...I was 12, the oldest kid, with my folks and friends of ours. Beautiful!

Oops Dawn! That's a pretty advanced camp-out. Take your time before trying that one!

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 9:59am | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

BTW, Dawn, do you have Elizabeth's book? Libby's piece in the book, "Lost in the Woods," is a good account of what can happen if you are a bit unprepared . Nothing tragic in the piece, but it was a lesson for all!

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 10:05am | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

The first time I went camping, I went with MacBeth. We have a narration of that up somewhere. I'll have to dig around for it. We camped in Shenandoah National Park. MacBeth and the older kids (who were actually pretty little) tented. I was 7 months pregnant and stayed with my two littlest in a cabin. Start with cabin camping and get your feet wet...the following month, about four weeks before delivering Nicholas, we tent camped for the first time as a family. The only caveat there: we were at Bull Run, about twenty minutes from home.

The following year, we camped with MacBeth in Pennsylvania. My kids still remember lots of bears!

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 10:16am | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

Elizabeth wrote:
The first time I went camping, I went with MacBeth. We have a narration of that up somewhere.


Shen Narration

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 12:10pm | IP Logged Quote Taffy

Dawn wrote:
Honestly, I do think for me, most of what makes me feel hesitant is the age and the behavior of my youngest right now. I can't say for sure that he won't walk off, so it would be constant supervision and it would be hard to relax. Not that you ever take your eyes off a 4 yo anyway ... maybe if we do start small and keep the visit short, it would be manageable.

Macbeth, I would love to hear suggestions for RV and cabin campsites in my area. When I was a Girl Scout we camped in cabins a couple of time and it was around here somewhere. Cabins sound more do-able with my little guy.


Dawn, I remember VERY well what it was like when my PDD ds was a wandering boy! It's VERY stressful and I don't know how I would have managed if we lived in a city as my guy has no fear of strangers and would enter peoples' houses and make himself at home. Living in a small place where everyone knows us has been a HUGE help.

I personally wouldn't recommend camping until your ds is over this stage. Cabin camping in a cabin with secure locks that your son can't open might be doable. Having gone through this myself, I just wouldn't go through the risks again.

BUT, your PDD fellow is your youngest whereas mine was my oldest so that may make a difference. If you can ensure that your son has a buddy at ALL TIMES who can be responsible... When my son was doing this I often wished for a sheepdog to keep an eye on him

I don't know you or your son Dawn, I'm simply going on what my own experiences have been. Although I'm not as seasoned a camper as Macbeth , I am a seasoned traveller. If your son is taking off without warning, stick to day camping and spend your nights in a hotel/motel with secure locks. Your son will hopefully grow/learn his way out of this behaviour in a few years as mine did. I am VERY happy to report that my PDD fellow is now a VERY good traveller and camper and often helps keep his younger brothers well behaved.

Hope that helps,

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 1:33pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

Everyone, thank you, thank you, for all your thoughts, memories and advice ...

I really do want to camp with my boys but so many things in a life with a PDD child have to be put on hold or altered in some way. I am not complaining, not one bit. We have been so blessed with this sweet special boy and we know he is improving and maturing every day. Sometimes you just have to wait for the time to be right for everyone. My older two boys are so good when it comes to being helpful and patient with their little brother. They are very understanding when we have to change plans or maybe not do something, directly because of our littlest guy's needs. But still I hate to disappoint them so often ...

Gosh, how did I go from a camping question to a tearful assesment of life with my youngest?

Anyway ... MacBeth and Elizabeth, what wonderful trips your families have enjoyed. I remember that passage from Elizabeth's book very well (I think I know most of that book by heart now). This gives me such inspiration and makes me want to make camping work for us in some way, sooner than later ...

And on the point of somehow, Taffy I so appreciate your insight. It is a relief to hear someone acknowledge just how hard it really is, and that you really do have to compromise or even opt out of some things, sometimes. And it is good to hear that your son has improved so; it's like music to my ears.

If we can find secure cabin camping locally I think we might start there, or maybe just a half-day hike. We'll see ... In the meantime, we'll be doing lots of backyard camping for sure!!   

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 1:48pm | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

Dawn wrote:
Everyone, thank you, thank you, for all your thoughts, memories and advice ...

I really do want to camp with my boys but so many things in a life with a PDD child have to be put on hold or altered in some way. I am not complaining, not one bit. We have been so blessed with this sweet special boy and we know he is improving and maturing every day. Sometimes you just have to wait for the time to be right for everyone. My older two boys are so good when it comes to being helpful and patient with their little brother. They are very understanding when we have to change plans or maybe not do something, directly because of our littlest guy's needs. But still I hate to disappoint them so often ...



Dawn,
I don't know the particulars for your little boy. But I do know that my children who have challenges are the ones who thrive the most outside. There is something about being outside--and particularly camping--that realy nurtures them. Certainly, you have to take greater precautions and make some special arrangements (again, I don't know your particulars, only mine), but I'm not at all certain that that will get better as he gets older. Indeed, he'll be more difficult to rein in safely as he gets older. Might be good to begin to lay down the camping routines now. I"m hapy to discuss our particulars privately and to help you troubleshoot, if you like.

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Posted: May 08 2006 at 4:48pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

Elizabeth wrote:
I"m hapy to discuss our particulars privately and to help you troubleshoot, if you like.


Thank you, Elizabeth. I just sent you a p.m.

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Posted: May 09 2006 at 11:44am | IP Logged Quote Sarah

Dawn wrote:

Canoeing ~ we donít swim that well, what if we tip over?


Don't canoe. That's for the more experienced.

Dawn wrote:


Hiking ~ what if we get lost, or meet a mountain lion?



Don't hike. Stick to simple trails.

Dawn wrote:


Tenting ~ what if my 4 yo with PDD-NOS wakes up in the middle of the night, walks out of the tent and we don't wake up?



Tents are so hard to get out of because you zip them. I can barely get out of the tent when I want to. Plus they are double zipped at night with the screen and the "door." Make sure he sleeps between you are Dh. Plus I sleep super light when camping.

Dawn wrote:


Campsites ~ what if someone there is not safe to be around?


This is valid concern. Stick to campsites that you have to pay at with a "ranger" type guy on site. Ask around for campsites that other families recommend. Tach your children NEVER to wander. ALWAYS accompany them to the bathroom.

Dawn wrote:


Isolation ~ what if someone gets hurt or lost or sick and we can't get help? Or help can't reach us?


This happened to us. 30 minutes into our first familt camping trip, ds cut his finger requiring 6 stitches. We were at a site 30 minutes from home. We ran home, got stitched up and ran back and completed the trip! Look very close to home for a state park kind of site.

I was really nervous to camp with my kids, even though I'm an experienced camper from my childhood.

Here's my 2 cents:

1.Its always colder than you think its going to be.
2.You can never have enough baby wipes.
3.A Playpen is a must for a toddler when you are trying to do something. I'm not a big playpen peson, but for camping its a safety issue.

Lunch is burning. . . I'll think of more stuff later.

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Posted: May 09 2006 at 7:38pm | IP Logged Quote momwise

Sarah wrote:
Dawn wrote:

Canoeing ~ we donít swim that well, what if we tip over?


Don't canoe. That's for the more experienced.

Dawn wrote:


Hiking ~ what if we get lost, or meet a mountain lion?



Don't hike. Stick to simple trails.


Great advice Sarah--we follow it all the time. In fact, we've never enter the water that I can remember, due to the fact that dh hyperventilates in bodies of water over his thighs. Also, if you see fresh bear tracks down by the creek within minutes of setting up camp, pack up and go to a motel and you'll be fine.

Seriously Dawn, in 40+ years of camping I can't remember a time where everything was not o.k. in a federal campground with on-site camp hosts. I'm not sure what PDD is, but when camping with children, a zipper with a safety pin through it and a bell on it through the night (bells on toddlers are good too) should suffice. And if you pray to everyone's guardian angels beforehand, even the stuff that should hurt you will turn out fine.

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Posted: May 10 2006 at 11:15pm | IP Logged Quote Kelly

Oh Dawn, I empathize, I really do. I love nature and hiking, I've done mountain climbing, scuba diving, saddle trips, I'm a big animal fan, I even like spiders and snakes!...but I have never been a camper. My dh hates camping. Probably because he never camped as a kid, and for that matter, neither did I! Meanwhile, my dc are CLAMORING to camp! My dh won't do it, and I'm, well, a little chicken to go solo. Have any of you gals camped without your dhs? I will drive 8000 miles across the country and back with dc, sans dh, I will cross the Atlantic Ocean and do foreign things for months at a time (with dh flying in to meet us at strategic points),I will stay at a ramshackle beach house on a deserted beach for weeks at a time with only our dc and dogs... but I'm a chicken about camping!!!! And I want to get over it, too    

I like the suggestions of starting with backyard camping (I think I could do that), then graduating to a nearby campground. And the dog thing, great idea.

You all are such an inspiration Let me know if you get over your phobia, Dawn...I'll work on mine, too!
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Posted: May 10 2006 at 11:26pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

That is so interesting, Kelly, that you will do all those other things solo, but not camping! What is it about camping that you are afraid of, specifically?
I camp alone with the kids alot, although the running joke in our family is that if it's just Mom and the kids, then it will definitely rain! That seems to be my luck! The only time I was nervous about camping alone with the kids was once in Alaska on Kenai Lake when we were told of a grizzly sighting in the camp the previous night. I was pretty sleepless that next night! But overall I find it wonderful to camp with the kids without dh sometimes. It is more relaxing, as dh is very goal oriented (Lets hike to the top of this mountain!) while I am more about relaxing and enjoying nature (oh, look! A flower! Let's look it up!). The kids really seem to pick up on the different styles, too, and adapt to them, enjoying either style.

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