Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cabin Camping in Wisconsin

Though I never had the chance to camp as a child, when I was a teenager, I worked for the Cub Scouts as a day camp counselor. Joining the Explorer Boy Scout Troop (a requirement of being a counselor) meant I got the chance to go on co-ed camping trips and have lots of outdoor time. Wanting Henry and Nick to learn more about being outdoors, but not quite ready to try tent camping yet, my friend Lynn and I decided to try cabin camping at Jellystone Park in Caledonia, Wisconsin. I brought my two sons and she brought her son, Aidan.

Nick got to know those stairs well. He served many a time out perched on that bottom stair.

We decided to rent a "Boo Boo Basic Cabin," and it saved us quite a bit of money, compared to a hotel. This cabin came with a front porch, two rooms, a picnic table, and our own fire pit. We brought in all of our own food, and I made breakfasts on our electric skillet out on the porch.

See our bracelets? We had to wear them the entire time. Henry kept taking his off.

It was a ton of work to prepare and bring enough food, utensils, and cooking equipment for five people for four days, but it was very different and fun. The hardest part for me was not having running water. Cooking outside was actually enjoyable. I think bacon tastes better when it is cooked outside.

The kids adored our little cabin, and they slept well every night. Nick, Henry, and Aidan had their own bedroom with a bunk bed plus a twin bed. They liked it so much that they got rather attached and wanted to go back to "our cabin" even after we had checked out.

Our cabin was very small, with only the bedroom and a main room with a queen-sized bed and a refrigerator. We had electricity and heat/AC but no running water. It was rustic enough for me and much roomier than a tent.

I bought Nick and Henry their own flashlights and sleeping bags just for this trip, and they loved sleeping in the sleeping bags so much they didn't want to stop sleeping in them when we got back home!

Seeing as this was mid-July, you wouldn't think we would've needed the heat and all the blankets, but it was so cold that first night we had to turn on the heat! This summer's weather has been weird and cold compared to most. For the purposes of campfires and having to walk to the bathrooms, though, cooler weather was actually quite convenient.

Henry looks so innocent in this picture, but the next morning he snuck a 3-pack of sweet peppers into the bedroom and smashed them all against the walls and floors. 

I think the hardest part of cabin camping was not having running water. There was a small hose attachment outside, but it was hard to use for anything other than washing my hands. I didn't realize until this trip how many times I wash my hands each day!  It was especially a pain when cooking on the fire.

We also figured out that it was easier to brush our teeth in the woods with a bottle of water rather than wait for a free sink in the communal bathrooms. My friend Lynn thought it was funny when we brushed our teeth outside the first night, so she snapped this picture of us. I returned the favor the next day!

I was so proud of myself for making my very first campfire. Let's not discuss how many paper towels and tiny sticks I used. I also won't mention how many times the fire went out before it got going. For a first effort, it wasn't too bad.   :)

I made this fire all by myself! See the foil packets cooking on top? This method worked pretty well.

Speaking of fires, this aspect of camping probably made me the most nervous. Although I'm totally a feminist, I'm also somewhat lazy about the more challenging aspects of camping, and I have no problem letting a guy make the fire for me. When I was in scouting in high school, there were lots of guys around who'd been camping their whole lives. They were the kind of guys who wanted to show off for us ladies and make fires literally from piles of sticks with no matches. I remember they'd try to one-up each other over who could make a fire more quickly.

Anyhow, the end result was that though I'd been camping plenty of times, I had never actually made or cooked over a fire. The first night I was rather, um, irritated. I kicked the fire pit a few times and said some choice words every time the flames started to go out. We still managed to roast marshmallows and have some yummy s'mores, though!

I ended up bringing mostly foil packet meals, and I'm so glad I chose to cook this way. I do not think I could have successfully cooked on open flames without the foil packets. I made beef/mushroom/corn quesadillas one night and sausage with green beans and potatoes the other night. Eating outside for every meal was great for cleanups! The birds liked our outdoor eating, too.

Our campground had tons of ameneties, including an on-site water park, a jumping pillow, and a park. In retrospect, we probably could've spent most of our time on the campground. Tomorrow I'll write more about the super-cool water park and post some mid-air jumping pictures that show what happen when teenagers get onto the jumping pillow and fling my boys into the air. We had such a magnificent time that I know I'm going to try cabin camping again.

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