Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Camping at Knoebel's

I have been looking forward to this camping trip since Christmas when I opened this tent. Last year we camped in our tiny dome tent that we've had since college and when it began pouring rain we realized it was riddled with leaks. We packed the kids up in the middle of the night and drove home, returning in the morning to eat breakfast with our friends and pack up the leaky tent and any other belongings we'd abandoned in our soggy panic. This was disappointing because we'd shared a lot of good times with that tent - but I was excited to upgrade to something larger and, well, dry. So this beauty was my Christmas present this year and I've been itching to use it ever since. 

It's been a busy summer, but we got this trip in just under the wire - in fact, the last day of the camping trip was officially the last day of summer. As soon as we got home from DC we promptly unpacked and began to repack for camping. The kids helped by stuffing lint into toilet paper rolls for fire starters while jb and I gathered the rest of the supplies. We packed our little Honda Fit to the gills (it may be time to consider a bigger car for our family) and set off on our three hour drive to Knoebel's.

Gorgeous camping weather
When we arrived at camp we unloaded, set up the tent and got a fire going to cook dinner. The new tent was pretty easy to set up, especially with our little helpers.

The kids were thrilled with the setup and positively giddy at the idea of sleeping in sleeping bags.  

We were camping with a group of Philly Family Pride families, so as we set up and prepared dinner, the other members of our group arrived.

Zoe is eating popcorn with a fork

Anything after nightfall was an adventure - even walking to the bathrooms. Between the flashlights, headlamps, lantern, glow sticks and campfire there was much to look forward to when darkness fell.

Especially... SLEEPING BAGS!

Personally, I'm sold on an air mattress or camping pad for our next trip, but the kids were happy to sleep right on the rocky ground - as long as it was in a bag.

Over the next couple of days we split our time between the campsite and the amusement park. We were in it more for the camping than the rides, but it was nice to have the park within walking distance. There is no entrance fee to Knoebel's amusement park and you can choose to either buy a ride-all-day bracelet or buy a book of tickets to pay per ride. With young kids, the pay-per-ride option is great since we only lasted a couple hours at a time and their options were limited due to height restrictions and nerves. We really enjoyed the rides we could all go on together, like the train. The train ride was a mile and a half long and went into the woods and through a clearing with feeders for the squirrels and chipmunks.  It was really lovely.

Toot toot!
Train ride...again
Leo loved one ride called the Scenic Skyride that was basically a ski-lift that carries you up and back down a mountain.  He said it was really "beautiful and peaceful."

Since Zoe was too short to go on the ski-lift ride, we went on the boats.

The kids had fun at the park, but would have been more than satisfied with staying at the campsite the whole time. After all, there were books and hot dogs there. What more could one want?

There was a lot of reading. Mostly by other parents...that's jb and I in the background enjoying our coffee while someone else watches our kids.

There were plenty of other activities that kept them busy, and like reading, most of them were things they do at home all the time, but they were transformed into super-duper-fun because we were doing them OUTSIDE near a TENT!

Playing with trucks was a crowd favorite.

But really, the dirt was the main attraction.

This kid could not get enough dirt
That's one of my favorite things about camping - the mundane somehow becomes fun. And not just for the kids. I have never been happier to wash dishes than I am when I have to walk them down a dirt road to access water, or happier to eat a hot dog than when it is charred over a fire that took us two hours to get going.  

Peeling clementines is SO MUCH FUN - when you're camping
It was also really nice camping with a group of families. We were able to enjoy meals together, chat and trade off kid-duties. The group meals were my favorite. We would sit down around twilight to eat together - and night would quickly fall as we ate. 

Which would lead right into S'mores.

Big kid toasting his own marshmallow


The weather was perfect. It was nice and warm during the day, but there was a definite chill at night.  In the mornings we all bundled up before leaving the tent on our long (ok, not so long) trek to the bathrooms. (Did I mention that Knoebel's campground has gender neutral restrooms available? Bonus!)

One morning we even indulged in some hot cocoa to warm us up.

It wasn't quite fall, but it sure wasn't summer anymore. This camping trip made for the perfect transition between the seasons. Camping was the single item left unchecked on the Summer Bucket list we'd made back in May. Checking off a camping trip on the last day of the season was our summer closure and fall welcomed us with a preview of the changing leaves and an invitation to breakout the sweatshirts.


Speaking of changing seasons...who the heck is this big kid posing as my baby?

He was actually helpful while putting up the tent and making the fire. He toasted his own marshmallow and looked both ways before crossing the camp roads. He was the oldest kid in attendance and split his time between the kids and adults. It's like he's a genuine big kid.

Now we just need to make our annual fall bucket list!

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