Camping this year was back at Rideau River Provincial Park. I booked at "the closest campsite to the beach" but somehow we ended up at 301, which was very nice but not super close to the beach.
Portia and Ben, Dave and Dianne and their kids, Janice, Yukiko and her girls and our family stayed both nights. Heather and Andre also came for both nights but missed a number of meals due to other commitments. Dave and Karen and their kids arrived Saturday morning, and Lauren and Ronnie and their kids, and Suzanne and Olivia (Elizabeth's good friend from school) arrived Saturday evening. Lauren and Ronnie brought along former neighbour Lindsay. Ronnie and little Charlotte didn't stay overnight, but came back Sunday morning. It was a busy place with lots of little ones.
We had loaded sweet potatoes and potatoes for supper, bacon and eggs for breakfast, fajitas for lunch, chili (tradition!!) for second supper, mini cereals (tradition!!), yogurt and muffins for second breakfast, and soup, sandwiches and salad for second lunch. The food was wonderful and the company even better!
We bought a 10 person tent for all the girls after deciding that there were too many girls to fit into a smaller tent, the littlest probably not ready to be by themselves just yet and the older ones insisting they could not be split up. Maria started out in the girls tent but there was a kerfuffle the first night involving teeth and elbows and Erika and Maria were invited to split up in order to keep the peace. The tent was not entirely satisfactory as it was defective and required duct tape in order to be completely set up. Of course it also started collapsing after the rain during the first night caused our duct tape repair to fail. Luckily we brought a whole roll of tape and our second repair attempt worked better than the first.
Aidan and Matthew welcomed Xander into the "boys" tent on night two. I'm happy to report that aside from a leaky tent the boys had no problems at all getting along, though there might have been some "bothering" of the girls.
There was much beach time. Some people got a lot of bug bites.
There were bottle rockets (during which we learned that our children lack a strong sense of self preservation, but Ben does not) and glow balls, s'mores and a camp fire between the hours of 5pm and 10pm to respect the partial fire ban in effect.
And there were sparklers, for the last time. Turns out that sparklers are classified as fireworks and it's completely illegal to have them in a provincial park (and even in the city of Ottawa except three days a year). I'm still a bit stunned by this, especially since Dianne specifically asked about whether it was okay to burn sparklers during a partial fire ban and got the go ahead. Park ranger was all "front staff are students and don't know anything". Matthew and Elizabeth were seriously bummed. Matthew because he was sad the adults didn't get a chance to light their sparklers (we were saving ours to write with, as per tradition) and Elizabeth because she realized that we aren't bringing sparklers next year.
Elizabeth also said I had to mention that they got to learn this really cool game, that you play with a ball and you throw it from person to person. "Football?" I asked. "Yes!!! How did you know??" she asked. Apparently she really liked learning how to play football. She also enjoyed the "secret passageway" to the beach, and playing at the beach. Matthew's favourite part was swimming at the beach and his least favourite part was getting told off by the park rangers for having sparklers. Amelia's favourite part was eating s'mores. Her least favourite part was getting soaked in water in her clothes (she was a bit overheated so Dianne held her under the tap). Elizabeth's least favourite part was leaving. There were tears.
The kids are already asking when we can go camping again.