We took Elizabeth camping for the first time this weekend, and combined the adventure with her first canoe trip! We're lucky enough to live close to Gatineau Park and it's actually quite feasible to go on a 24 hour canoe trip.
It's not quite wilderness camping; the designated campsites come in clusters of two to four and there's a well-stocked outhouse with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a real toilet seat. The park staff come by frequently to clean the outhouse and replenish the firewood supply.
However, there are fewer other people than you'd find car camping and the lake is very quiet.
You can't reserve a campsite unless you are staying for at least two days, but the lake was pretty empty and we had a choice of several sites.
Elizabeth enjoyed the canoe ride... but we were only about 30 metres from shore when the novelty wore off. "Done!" she announced. Canoeing with a toddler who wants to get out is about as tricky as it sounds. A snack kept her occupied for about five minutes. Looking at birds and trees bought us another five. "Helping" Mommy paddle might have been another few minutes but then she got serious about trying to get out of the canoe and had to be physically restrained. This was problematic because it was very windy and Brendan needed my help paddling in order to make any headway. The return trip was even windier but by then I'd already figured out a workable canoeing strategy.
Mary's guide to canoeing with Elizabeth:
Once at the campsite, Elizabeth explored everything from acorns to beetles. The best game ever? Throwing rocks into the lake and watching them splash.
From some perspectives, the campfire was a mistake. Elizabeth was totally fascinated by the fire and it was really difficult to keep her well away. Next time we'll wait to have the fire until closer to bedtime!
Bedtime was very easy. Elizabeth doesn't really like hanging out in our tent (and definitely not without Mommy) but she loved jumping on the sleeping bags and mattresses. She launched herself backwards with great abandon while giggling wildly until we decided enough was enough and tucked her in.