We are not an extreme family, by most definitions. Sure, we like a little adventure and getting off the beaten path when we can, but few would describe us as extreme.
Even so, when others tell us “It can’t be done,” we experience the ageless inclination to become defiant. Recently, we expressed our intention to go camping, father, mother, and two-and-a-half-month-old baby. Naturally, when some suggested that perhaps we ought not attempt such a thing with such a young baby, we promptly planned our trip.
The purpose of this narrative, however, is not to tell the tale of our exploits, simple and brief as they were, but rather to focus on the “how.” How did we approach this endeavor? How did we overcome the foreseeable and unforeseeable obstacles? And how did the BOB jogging stroller play a decisive role in the entire experience?
Camping with a baby is probably a lot like writing the Terms and Agreement for a major operating system with a leaky fountain pen. You do whatever you can to prepare, knowing that messes, mistakes, and excessive chunks of time committed to menial, though simple tasks are all inevitable. But we aren’t the kind of family who drops the broken pen and leaves the unfinished job for another day. Instead, we find a way to make it work. Repeatedly.
Situation #1: The Road Trip
Obstacles: limited space, unlimited items to pack, large baby items (car seat, stroller, etc.), neverending last-minute additions
Solutions: folding stroller, click-in car seat, keen ability to compartmentalize and organize (some might say this last one is still up for debate…)
Never minimize the dynamic benefits of a stroller that folds! But as I learned quickly, it is important to load the biggest items first.
Situation #2: The Woods
Obstacles: dirt, foliage, bugs, and campfire smoke
Solutions: off-road and large tires, fully enclosed stroller/car seat canopy
Is it safe to spray a baby down with bug spray? We aren’t in the business of testing such concerns. Consequently, camping with a baby absolutely requires a canopy that completely closes. Perhaps the threat of Zika or West Nile is not especially severe in northern Michigan, but mosquitoes are no less pleasant just because they don’t carry vicious viruses.
Situation #3: The Dunes
Obstacles: sand… mountains of sand, sun, curious toddlers of inattentive, sun-slowed parents
Solutions: lots of pockets and places to stow gear, and remember that canopy? Yeah… and those off-road wheels?
Sand is the mortal enemy of clean people everywhere, but who can resist beaches and dunes? When camping at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, one must engage the dreaded sand. It is non-negotiable. So rather than asking whether we would go to the beach or the dunes, we asked how we would pull it off with a baby.
Nothing captures the beauty of camping quite like the campfire (and s’mores!), but we don’t have much to write on that front here because if there was one “can’t” that we definitely did acknowledge, it was that babies can’t eat s’mores. Not yet, at least. Maybe next summer!