My kids have been begging me to go camping for a few years now.
I haven’t gone camping since I was a kid, so I was rather reluctant to take them. If possible, my husband was even more reluctant. I have made great strides in getting my kids outside more often through the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge, so I figured that I could step outside of my comfort zone and take my kids camping.
We are lucky to have a variety of gorgeous places to go camping in the state of Vermont. However, I don’t own a tent or any of the other necessary supplies to go camping. Luckily, the Vermont State Parks offer a range of camping options. Along with the traditional tent campsites, several of the parks also offer lean-tos, cabins, and cottages.
I decided to ease my family into the camping scene, so I opted to rent the cottage at Branbury State Park. It was a great decision!
The Moosalamoo Cottage has two separate bedrooms, which was perfect for getting the kids to bed earlier than the adults. It also had its own bathroom, thank goodness! The small kitchen included a decent supply of cooking supplies, which made packing for the trip a much easier job. I was able to bring my own groceries, which saved my family a ton of money. Eating out with the whole family can get expensive! There was also a fire pit in the yard, so we were able to cook hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire. If you get tired of cooking your own meals or want to buy a special treat, most of the state parks have concession stands over the summer months as well.
My favorite part of the cottage was the screened-in porch with views of Lake Dunmore. We ate most of our meals there!
Like many of the state parks, Branbury offers a variety of options for hiking. My kids tend to wake up at the crack of dawn, so I was glad that our family could go hiking early in the morning instead of just sitting around waiting for things to open. We enjoyed hiking the Lana Falls Trail, which was easy enough for both of my children and offered stunning views of the waterfalls. Another day, we hiked the Lower Crest Trail, which was a little more challenging, but still fun for my kids. There were also longer and more challenging trails for families with older children. I loved being able to hike right from the cottage without having to drive anywhere. Just don’t forget the bug spray!
Although my own children only rode their bikes for about five minutes, I did see many other families going for longer rides. The campgrounds are popular spots for bike rides because they offer paved roads without much traffic. My kids spent more time at the park’s playground. They loved the swings and the slides. Best of all, there were always plenty of other children to play with them!
By far, my kids’ favorite part of camping was playing in Lake Dunmore.
The cottage is across the street from the lake, but there is a private gate that gives you direct access. The weekend we went camping was exceptionally hot, so the cool water felt wonderful. My children spent hours building sandcastles, swimming, and just splashing around. There were lots of other families at the beach, but it never felt too crowded. Luckily, my husband remembered to pack life jackets so the kids could swim out into deeper water without us worrying about their safety.
Our family’s new toy for the summer is a stand up paddle board. One of the kids could sit on the front (wearing a life jacket!) while an adult stood or knelt behind them and paddled. It was a fun way to explore more of the lake and to get in a bit of exercise at the same time. Many of the state parks also offer boat rentals. Depending on which park you visit, there may be pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, or row boats. Branbury State Park offers all of these options for you to explore.
Overall, I felt that camping gave my family a great chance to reconnect with each other.
There were no televisions or Kindles to distract everyone. Instead, we brought along board games and coloring books. I read the kids chapters from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire each night. My decision was spending 99¢ each for bottles of bubbles. My kids made up games with the bubbles and didn’t even cry when they spilled them. We also managed to get through a big chunk of the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge for this year. My son has been extra eager to do all the activities, even though we have until October to complete them.
I think my son’s words sum up our trip perfectly. “Let’s go camping again!”