We did our first family camping trip over Mother’s day weekend. We were very last minute with the planning, but it turned out just fine even without being 100% prepared. I got the idea because I originally just wanted to do a trail hike for Mother’s Day weekend. The weather was looking great, so I thought maybe it would be more fun to try to tent camp while we were at it.
I contacted a friend who has gone camping in the area before and asked for her recommendation. We wanted to camp by Lake Lanier because it’s close, but there are several campgrounds on Lake Lanier, and I wasn’t sure which one was more suitable with kids. She said Shady Grove Campground is their favorite, so I decided to check out the website.
The website is very promising, boasting lake views, bathroom and shower facilities, two playground areas, wooded hiking trails, and a lake “beach” area close to the campsites. This all sounded wonderful to us, so we decided to go for it!
We absolutely loved the campground. The walking paths in the woods were great, the playground for the kids and the beach was wonderful. The bathroom facilities were close to the campsite and clean and exactly what we needed with three little ones and our first camping experience. We got a six person tent, and we arrived around noon after lunch and began unpacking the car and getting acquainted with our campsite. There were campsites closer to Lake Lanier with views, but this one was perfect because of how close it was to the beach, bathrooms, and playground. It was also very shady and flat, which was great. The car was filled to the brim with camping supplies. I forgot how many things you actually need when you camp. Pretty much everything!
We cheated a little bit and did simple meals on paper plates, disposable plasticware and juice boxes. Next time we will be more eco-friendly and just use reusable cups. The typical camping staple- hot dog over an open flame of course, and we made simple mac and cheese, smores, sandwiches, etc. We brought the Cusinart Griddler with us and made pancakes for the morning (yum) but forgot syrup, so Dan ran out that morning and grabbed some. One great thing about camping at this location is that t’s not too far from civilization!
Parker got his first pocket swiss army knife and he had a great time using it to practice sharpening sticks and cutting the bark off of them. Mason and Sienna loved helping with the fire and gathering sticks. They were all great helpers on the campsite. They were just excited about the whole experience! One of their favorite things was going on the wooded walking trail to the playground. The playground there was amazing. They spared no expense. It had rock walls, several slides, cool wobbly platforms they could toddle between. They had so much fun, and will be able to play on it for many years, as it’s spans several age groups.
Before bedtime, Dan and I took turns taking the boys out on night time nature walks with their head lamps. Those headlamps are worth every penny. We had so much fun with them! The boys just loved being out past dark, and enjoyed just being in nature, wondering what creatures they would find and listening to the night birds, frogs, and creatures make noise.
The evening was a bit more challenging as the night went on. Sienna went to bed around eight without an issue. She’s a great sleeper and can sleep pretty much anywhere. However, once it was time for the rest of us to go to sleep, we realized that our fellow camping neighbors were playing a serious game of corn hole. Finally after about 15 minutes into the quite time (Campsite guidelines say after 10pm is quite time) we had to go and give a gentle reminder about the park rules, and that we were having a hard time getting the kids to sleep. They were apologetic and immediately stopped their game and cheering, but I felt like such a kill-joy having to do that. It’s just very frustrating when you’re left with little kids who can’t sleep, and are over tired. Other than that, no issues with neighbor noise, but Mason was a little weary of sleeping with all the evening nature noises, but eventually crashed. The next day he said he loved camping, so I don’t think he was scarred too much from all the unfamiliar sounds.
We also found out quickly that the tent (slated to hold six people) wasn’t really a great fit for us. It indeed could probably fit six, but with two queen air mattresses, it’s pretty much one adult one kid on one, and one adult two kids on another (I’ll let you guess who had the privilege of the ladder, Ha!) but we really needed an extra twin bed for one of the kids. It’s just too cramped on the queen bed with the sleeping bags for more than that. So, we returned it. Lesson learned. It wasn’t terrible but could’ve been better.
There was also a fun beach area that we explored the first day. The water felt like it had ice cubes in it. Super cold, but the kids still liked it for a short time. We’ll have to hit up the beach for longer once again when it’s warmer.
It was such a fun experience, a wonderful Mother’s Day, and we can’t wait to do it again!