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:
- Sit on the bottom of the canoe with her sitting on my lap. This keeps weight lower which is especially important when wrestling to keep her in the boat.
- Let her nurse the entire time. It turns out that it is possible to nurse a baby wearing a lifejacket, while Mom is wearing a one piece swimsuit, a lifejacket and paddling a canoe.
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.
On July 28, 2010 at 03:46 am
You were VERY brave! Lovely campsite, though.
On July 28, 2010 at 03:46 am
Amazing! Did you know that the official minimum age for taking kids canoe tripping is five? ;)
I can't believe you were much help paddling whilst doing all those other things!
But overall it sounds like a good time was had by all, we're proud of you all three!
On July 28, 2010 at 09:12 pm
Wow - that was some serious nursiing that you did there! That looks like a lot of fun - we've always wanted to go camping with Ali, but have yet to be brave enough.