Thanks to my wonderful friend Kate, the kids and I got to attend this year’s Great American Backyard Campout. The good folks at Coleman sponsored four national one-night campouts as part of the National Wildlife Federation's Be Out There movement.
I have never been outdoorsy. I know this may come as a shock to most of my readers but I had never been camping before, at least not the kind with a tent and no electricity. I couldn't pass up this opportunity, though, especially since Coleman had generously offered to outfit our campsites and let us take the gear home, too! I knew the kids would love it. Bob couldn't go due to a time conflict (he was finishing up sculptures for his show) but my similarly urban-oriented friend Krista and her daughter who is the same age as Roo agreed to round out our family. Krista and I were disappointed that no one seemed to assume we were the two mommy family. Oh, well.
The drive from Wichita to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri takes about six hours. It's pretty impressive to see how the landscape changes along the way from flat plains to rolling hills. The park is beautiful, full of shady trees and winding paths. When I checked in, Coleman staff filled my car with gear– including a tent, camp chairs, air mattresses, sleeping bags and, of course, a lantern– and helped us get to our campsite. I was impressed with how easy it was to set the tent up. It really didn't take more than fifteen minutes to get everything to look this cozy:
The kids settled in right away. It's pretty great to see kids running around and making new friends in this kind of environment.
There was a huge list of activities to try: fishing, kayaking, horseback riding. Of course, the kids wanted to do everything!
Coleman had also arranged for celebrity chef Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street in St. Louis to do cooking demonstrations at mealtimes. The big catch: we were supposed to replicate his recipes (chorizo scrambled eggs, battered pan-fried trout, carne asada ribeye…) on Coleman camping grills and stoves! I'd never used a gas grill before so it was a challenge, plus we were ravenously hungry, but it was fun to work in teams to get everyone fed. I'd love to try one of the grills out under more controlled circumstances sometime.
It was amazing how much we packed into 24 hours of camping. I think we're going to bust the tent out again as soon as the temperatures stay below triple digits! Thanks so much to Coleman, NWF and Kate/Guavalicious for letting us participate in this campout. I hope we get to do it again next year!
In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and the WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I won a contest on Kate's blog to attend this event and we got to keep our gear from the campout. I didn't get to keep a grill, sadly. All opinions, however, are my own.