Setting up camp
By Hayley Kaufman, Globe Staff | September 4, 2010
WHO: “G’’ editor Hayley Kaufman; her husband, Chris; and their three kids
WHAT: Tent camping
I thought all kids loved tents. Any kind of tent: circus, camping, even those beach things that shield you from the sun. Turns out a rented nylon tent is not every child’s dream retreat: My 3-year-old daughter, Rachel, stamped her foot in dismay the first night we camped this summer, on the banks of the Saco River.
“Mama, I want to go back to the hotel!’’ Rachel whined. A few days earlier, we’d made the pilgrimage to North Conway, N.H., and Storyland. We’d stayed in a passable roadside motel; then we moved down the road to the Saco River Camping area, a none-too-remote site tucked just behind the L.L. Bean Outlet.
For all you camping purists out there (the ones who have notches on your bedposts denoting how many AMC huts you’ve slogged to), a family campground isn’t a bad thing. When your toddler is in diapers and your 6-year-old refuses to wear shoes, camping in a place with a washing machine and showers isn’t a moral shortcoming. It’s pragmatic.
Surprisingly, the tent took a little selling. Rachel (pictured) was suspect. But after tramping down to the camp’s shallow Saco River access, cooking dinner on the camp stove, and roasting marshmallows over an open fire, she actually asked to go to sleep in the tent. A full day outside does that to kids, even little divas.
Some private camps aren’t so family friendly (case in point: our neighbors recently took their toddler to one in Plymouth that was more “Jersey Shore’’ than Disney Channel), so hunt around online for info. The Saco River Camping area was full of families — some tent camping, many in RVs. The playground, while not exactly state of the art, was a hit, as was the giant chessboard near the camp offices. And if you get to the point where you can’t take the outdoors anymore, there’s a make-your-own-sundae parlor (and outlet shopping) two minutes away. Your days will be so full the whole family will go to sleep early, even in a tent.
Hayley Kaufman can be reached at email@example.com.