The Very Worst Camping Trip

We’ve had a few friends comment on how we’re “really outdoorsy” or even ask us for camping advice. Snort. Neither one of us went camping a lot as kids. I was briefly a Girl Scout, but chickened out of the overnight trip when I realized that there were spiders in the cabin. I basically started “enjoying the outdoors” when I met Aaron, because when a cute boy likes something, you generally convince yourself that you like it, too.

All in all, we were doing okay at camping… at least until we had the very worst camping trip.

We planned a three day weekend this summer, pre-N visiting, to take the kids camping. It would be our longest yet, Friday-Monday. A couple of days before, the weather forecast started looking pretty bad, particularly for Saturday. But, we wanted to go, we had made arrangements, so we decided to stick with it.

Before we were even halfway there, I realized I’d forgotten my tripod. I cried. Too late to turn back, but that is what I look forward to most about any camping trip, being under the stars with my camera.

We arrived, set up our tent, and then headed off to our first planned activity… the kids’ first ever drive-in movie.


It rained for the whole movie. We had to run the air to keep the windshield from fogging up, and run the windshield wipers from time to time for the rain.
Despite it being a really less-than-ideal drive-in movie experience, we still had fun.

When we arrived back at the campsite, I knew that I wasn’t missing out on anything star-wise that night. It was so cloudy and even a big foggy.
(camera set on a picnic table)

We decided to hit up some other close-by state parks the next day, Saturday. Aaron is currently doing a little contest to see who can visit all of the Kansas state parks first (there’s a cash prize!). We first went to Mushroom Rocks.

The kids enjoyed this weird park. But, we ended up literally running back to the car as it started pouring.

We spent our day in the car, driving around, to a couple more state parks and through various small towns of Kansas. All the while it was pouring rain.

When we stopped for lunch, it was hard to even eat under a pavilion, with rain blowing in.

Fortunately, the rain cleared up in time for dinner. Things were looking up.

We had a nice time, roasting hotdogs and making s’mores.

We decided to get pajamas on and head to bed early, hoping to make the most of the following day, Sunday. Aaron took Reed and Lena to the bathrooms and I got Gus ready for bed at the tent.

This is about the moment when I discovered our BIG problem.

Everything inside of our tent was wet. Ranging from soaking wet to damp, depending on how close to the edge of the tent it was. There was no way we could sleep in the tent.

I gave Aaron a choice… find the closest laundry, hopefully at the park, OR pack it all up and head home, two days early. We opted for the laundry. Well, there was no laundry at the park. The closest laundry mat was 30 minutes away… and it was already 8:45.

The laundry mat closed at 9. And, like I said, we left at 8:45 and it was 30 minutes away. Miraculously (or because it’s small town Kansas), they had not locked up. We headed inside, hoping that no one would arrive and kick us out.

I would have loved our local laundry mat, with it’s wifi, huge TV screens and open 24 hours. We would have camped out in there for awhile, getting everything sufficiently dry. Instead, I took this semi-clean laundry mat and was grateful that no one kicked us out.

So, we made it through the night and survived until Sunday. Sunday was supposed to be the nicest day of our weekend… and it was.

A little aside, one of our dogs loves to stand on things.

In the morning, Aaron took the kids hiking while I hung out at the trailhead and practiced my Ukrainian. The afternoon was designated for swimming at the lake.

I’m not sure if it was the rain the day before, but the kids were not impressed with the lake.

I just found this picture while prepping for this blog post, and I love it.

In case you’re wondering if things can be worse in retrospect, when editing this picture, I saw a mosquito in my s’more that I did not see before I ate it. Can we say “eww?”

My messy, messy boy.

Burned my finger on one of the skewers. Ouch.

I love this picture. Camping, challenges or not, is family time.

That’s my summary of our worst-ever camping trip. In short, be careful if it rains while you are camping. Make sure that you have the rain fly on really well and maybe even everything pulled away from the sides of your tent. 😉

In retrospect? It’s all okay. I want our kids to see us respond to challenges and still try to make the most of it. I want them to learn to be creative problem-solvers, so sometimes, that may mean waiting out the rain with markers and paper in the car or heading to the laundry mat late at night. So, we will keep on camping, hopefully learning how to be better campers, teaching our kids a love of the outdoors and how to make the most of unexpected challenges.

4 thoughts on “The Very Worst Camping Trip”

  1. It’s probably the trip they’ll remember the best. I love ALL the photos. When I first looked at the one with the kids roasting marshmallows I thought the red water bottle was a lighthouse 🙂

  2. Love this!! We had a camping trip recently where the nights got down to the 30’s. BRRR! I love camping, but not in the cold 🙂 What kind of camera do you use?

  3. I don’t even think i could camp at D.isney’s “luxury” camping sites- I love the way you showed your kiddos how to press through all of the hard times and make great memories! And through it all, you still got some rockin’ photos!

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