When I said that we were planning a camping trip, I got the same response at least three times: “Better you than me.”
And each time I’d laugh and say, “I know, I know, but the kids love it.”
Because they do. Every year at the beginning of summer I ask what they’d like to do: camps, day trips, other activities. And every year, camping is #1 on their list. Just last week we realized that one of M’s friends was planning a sleepover for our camping trip weekend, and I thought that she’d be upset or try to wheedle us down to one night instead of two, especially since she’d just been camping the previous weekend. Nope. There was no contest. She was all about camping with the family. That’s excellent.
I totally understand the “better you than me sentiment,” especially when I’m packing. Because packing for camping is my least-favorite part, by far. I wasn’t raised a camper at all, so it’s not like I have all of these childhood memories that drive me. So in the days before a camping trip I’m writing up lists and pre-cooking foods and reminding myself, again and again, “the kids love it.”
So we arrived home yesterday–I’ll tell you more about the specific trip later this week–and both girls carried in a couple of armloads of stuff and then scattered, J migrating to the living room sofa to continue a nap, M upstairs to shower. Cute W was outside hanging up sleeping bags and the tent and sorting equipment, and I was scrubbing massive s’more-making skewers. We were all exhausted, and my eyes half-closed as I scooped up my third load of laundry to throw it into the washer. And it smelled like woodsmoke and crushed greenery and more woodsmoke. I inhaled the dirty laundry one more time and realized that, it’s not just the kids. I really do love camping, too.
If you haven’t camped before, I think Facebook is a great source to help you get started, because you can ask for all sorts of suggestions and equipment loans. We weren’t sure about where we’d go, and I actually got as far as starting to make a reservation somewhere, then I had a small panic attack fearing that it was a bad idea. So I asked via Facebook: OK, I know I’m supposed to be the fun expert, but would some local please just tell me where to camp? 90 minutes or less of driving, lake beach a must, drive in to tent camp, not too overcrowded. Already done Thompson’s, Glimmerglass, Max Shaul & would like to try something new. Anyone, please?
And I got a ton of great suggestions, including the suggestion that I log all of the other suggestions in a blog post so that we could find it again. I’ve added the list in the order in which they were suggested. Most people didn’t comment, but when they did, I added them in italics. I also added approximate distances from me (keep in mind I’m near Schenectady).Â Here they are:
- Hearthstone Point near Lake George (1 hour)
- Moreau Lake (less than 1 hour) – It’s ok, but crowded
- North-South Lake in the Catskills (little over an hour) – Great and not far
- Fair Haven Beach State Park near Lake Ontario (2 1/2 hours)
- Watkins Glen State Park andÂ Taughannock Falls State Park in the Fingerlakes (bit over 3 hours) – A little further but worth the drive
- Northampton Beach on Lake Sacandaga (1 hour)
- Cherry Plain State Park (close)
- Woodford State Park in Vermont (1 1/2 hours)
- Little Sand Point in the Adirondack State Park (1 1/2 hours)
- Halfmoon Pond State Park in Vermont (2 hours) – Will definitely be going back. It was fantastic – and ALL the sites we walked by were good. Not too over crowded, despite being full (we camped over a long weekend).
- Herkimer Diamond Mines and KOA Kampground (1 hour)
- Eagle Point on Schroon Lake (1 1/2 hours) – It was great. Awesome sites right on the lake, can rent canoes / kayaks from $20/ day
What a beautiful memories for all of you. I can smell the campfire.
My son’s 5th birthday is on Sunday so we are taking him (and his 9 month old puppy) camping for the first time. Hopefully all goes well but I was just wondering where is your favorite place to go camping with the kids? Sounds like you have been to quite a few campgrounds and I would love to hear what your top pick was. We are hoping for something relatively close by (we live in Schdy) but that still feels like “real” camping. Any suggestions would be great seeing as we are leaving tomorrow and still dont have a destination – we were thinking of just winging it. Haha
@Katie, well, I really haven’t been to a ton of places. I have a few more reviews on my Beyond the Capital District page. We’ve done: Thompson’s Lake (crowded but easy first camping), Glimmerglass (nice, but where we were wasn’t woodsy), Max Shaul (not directly connected to a lake but near great hikes, nice village-y feel), and this one. I’d say we haven’t been to anyplace really bad or really so wonderful that we don’t want to try new places. But here’s a camping guide: nysparks.com/camping/documents/NYCampingGuide.pdfâ€Ž
Since it’s Labor Day Weekend, you might just have to go with what’s still available. And if you haven’t already told him that you’re going away, there’s no shame in just camping in the backyard for a first time. I promise he’ll still love it. Have fun! And report back, if you get a chance.