Our most recent and enchanting nature study took place on our lovely camping trip in the beautiful mountains surrounding the area of Mt. Shasta, California. We had the pleasure of a long-awaited meeting of some online Catholic Charlotte Mason home school families, mainly from the California area, and it was quite a meeting!!
The campsite was situated amongst the large, beautiful pines and redwoods native to Northern California and it was, shall we say - DUSTY! Yes, I think that would be the correct term for it! From the moment my clean little brood and I (and dh of course) stepped out of the car, until the last farwells were said, we were clean-no-more, LOL! Chari can attest to the fact that I in fact attended our outdoor Mass with, ahem, camp-dirt between my toes. (I am not too proud of this fact either). So here's a few things we learned and would like to share as a kind of "Camping 101" for all of you who haven't taken the camping plunge with your little ones yet!
CAMPING 101: Checklist
1) Prepare for the DIRT and DUST, in fact COUNT on it!! You will not be able to get away from it, even if there are lovely showers available right across from your campsite, you just have to take a deep breath and know that you will not be as clean as you are at home! (I know I sound very Obsessive-Compulsive here, but it's a reality of camping!)
2) Always check to see if you have your foot pump for your blow up mattress on hand before you leave home as you will undoubtedly upset the serene and peaceful setting in the campground as you hook up and operate your car-battery run air mattress pump from the back of your car! Oh and make sure your King-sized air mattress will actually fit through the opening of your tent BEFORE you do said excercise above!
3) No matter how FUN it may be to make a "DUST STORM" by throwig buckets of camp-dirt into the air, try and discourage it at ALL costs, especially if it's anywhere near the TENT! (see #1 above!)
4) Make sure you have someone to build a campfire for you! These two were excellent camp hands!
5) Not only is there going to be large amounts of unwanted dirt in your tent, but if you happen to be camping where there is a wonderful Lake with which to dig in the sand, you will also have sand, and plenty of it, some even in places you'd rather it not be, like baby's mouth!! (He's got that "Where-can-I-find-MORE-sand-to-stuff-into-my-mouth" expression!)
In all seriousness, and joking aside, we had the camping trip of a lifetime!!! Believe it or not, this was our FIRST real camping experience, one without a boat or trailer, etc. and it was a delight! We had the privelege of Daily Mass for 4 out of the 6 days we were there, met so many wonderful Catholic Home Schooling families, had moms meetings (the dads had theirs too, usually with the Priest included) and ALL the children got along beautifully! We had SO MANY wonderful excursions, all of them bathed in nature and beauty, and most of all FUN! Here are so more highlights:
We went on a lovely hike to a lake just a little winding drive from our campground. The pictures are from the hike. I just LOVE Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) so I tried my hand at it one afternoon while the kids were having "painting time" at our camp table!
This group assembled many times for Rock and Watercolor Painting time at our camp!!
Another great outing was our trip to the Fish Hatchery! The children had loads of fun feeding the hatchery fish and watching them for part of an afternoon.
Notice the orange looking trout, they are Albino Cutthroat Trout, very cool! There was also a Bald Eagle continuously circling the hatchery hoping for an easy catch no doubt!
Another glorious day trip to a different nearby lake and trail around it provided many opportunities for identifying and picking wild flowers, climbing on logs and just enjoying the serene beauty in God's Creation!
It's a little blurry, but the beautiful purple flower is a Western Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum), it was so beautiful, we brought some home to press! (Violet has a collection for a forthcoming post, stay tuned!) On the picture next to it are some Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and just to the left of the Butterup is a small lavender Butterfly!! I almost got it with it's wings open, but alas, my camera wasn't quite fast enough!
We had such a splendid time camping and getting to know some fantastic people. There is but a snippet of it here, the memories that we hold in our heart will last a lifetime! Or at least until the NEXT camping trip!! Do you camp?? I'd love to here your stories too! Thanks for traversing the Camping Nature Trail with us and May God Bless you in your day!