Adventure and Bonding at a Family Overnight

Horseback RidingHow much longer will my 10-year-old want me to join him at such things as a camp overnight? I seized the opportunity. He’d been going to a camp in Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains since the beginning of the week. One Thursday at dinner this summer, he asked if I would go with him to the camp’s family overnight the next day.

I went through the pros and cons in my head. It required us to dig out our tent from somewhere and for me to figure out how to set it up by myself (“It’s just like a pack-n-play,” my husband reassured me) and then spend the night in it. Or we could sleep under the stars. The activities they offered did sound fun — horseback riding, go-cart driving, a swim party, and campfire with skits and songs — and would allow me to see what he’d been doing all week and meet some of the counselors. And he wanted me to go with him. That’s what really made it impossible for me to say no, the anticipation and excitement in his eyes as he waited for my reply.

When I joined him at camp the next afternoon, I told him I was up for doing whatever he thought I would enjoy. He had a packed schedule for us, and he expected me to participate in every single activity.

First on his agenda was the ropes course, so we trekked over to the adventure area and donned our gear. I successfully reached the top, failure was not an option, and proudly rang the bell. When Sonny had his turn, I could tell he had done this before. He was up in no time. Cali Camp Ropes Course Next up was off-road go-cart driving. I was hoping Sonny would start first so I wouldn’t feel any pressure to go too fast, but the counselor had me go first. Luckily, all went well and I was able to maintain my speed and not slow Sonny down. Cali Camp Go CartsThe go-cart track was near the horses so we went horseback riding next. That was followed by archery. We were the only ones there so we got to do as many rounds as we pleased. We decided to end on a high note after Sonny had hit the very inner circle of the bull’s eye and I had actually gotten all five of my arrows on the target area. I was a proud mama, especially since all three of the counselors there were following along and had seen my various mis-hits. Cali Camp Archery Then it was time to return to the main camp area. It turned out most groups had already set up their tents or laid out their tarps so our location choices were limited. Sonny directed us to an area near the bathrooms. I didn’t think that was the best choice, but he thought otherwise. “Easy access,” he declared. I couldn’t argue with that. We set up our tent without much problem, and yes, knowing how to set up a pack-n-play helped. CampgroundAfter a pizza, pasta, and salad dinner, it was pool time. A lot of parents didn’t go in, but I wasn’t going to stop participating now and jumped right in with the rest of them. There were slides and lots of toys to play with. It was pretty crazy and crowded in the pool. Pool PartyThe day began to wind down after that with the campfire. After some planning and practicing of a skit, we made our way with flashlights in hand to the fire pit. The campers’ skits were interspersed with counselor songs and made for a varied and entertaining evening. Campfire SkitsOnce back at the campground area, it was movie time. Toy Story started right away and s’mores were served soon thereafter. Sonny made himself comfortable at the front of the crowd, but I was ready to rest and retreated to our tent to read. Movie at CampgroundThe movie was over about 11:30pm and by midnight it was quiet all around… Until the rooster awakened us, or at least the adults who weren’t already awake, at 5:45am. For me, the rooster was a welcomed sound because I had been waking up every hour or so since midnight and was happy that the day was finally beginning. Sonny slept right through the rooster and had to be woken up so we could start taking the tent down. Breakfast wasn’t served until all the tents were down. Adults were relieved to discover there was coffee served along with breakfast.Breakfast TimeAfter breakfast, Sonny had places and activities he still wanted to show me. We played Gaga, explored the Bamboo Forest, and visited the aerial arts and gymnastics areas. At this point, I had become more of an observer and just watched him get in the last moments of fun before our departure. At 10 o’clock, we packed up the car and headed home.

It was a fun-filled, busy 18-hours, one that I would gladly do again. All our attention was on each other. Sonny thrived being in charge of our time. He seemed proud to have me there, a mom who gladly (and successfully!) participated in the activities.

Besides spending this one-on-one time with Sonny, what I enjoyed most was seeing so many adults totally unplugged and actively engaged with their kids. There was no cell phone reception nor wifi access so parents had no choice but to put their devices away. Everyone was busy being in the moment. You rarely see that anymore.

5 thoughts on “Adventure and Bonding at a Family Overnight

  1. I loved this blog about your son and you at camp-especially the unplugged part 🙂 Oddly enough, JT and I went camping last weekend at Camp Mataguay-just the two of us for a weekend of fishing, archery, BB guns, biking and hiking, so I can very much relate to your experience!

    Thank you for sharing!

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