For our first camping trip with a toddler, we stayed local. We’ve been to Northwest River Park numerous times to enjoy the walking trails (though there aren’t a plethora) and to camp once. It’s a relatively small park, with only a few trails, but it’s so nice to have something this close to home!
Northwest River also has canoe and paddle boat rentals for those wanting to traverse the waterways, fishing opportunities, miniature golf for the kiddos (the course is a little lacking though), a camp store (with ice cream!), some really lovely pavilions for picnicking, and a very nice playground inside the camping area.
The campground is pretty kid-friendly, as well as pet-friendly. The biggest drawback may be that you have to make reservations in person. That’s not too tough when you live nearby, but could be difficult for those farther afield.
(We also sneaked over to Sandbridge Beach for a little sand and sunshine, and delicious donuts from Sandbridge Market!)
Since it was Easter weekend, we brought plastic eggs and did a little Easter egg hunt in our campsite for Fiona. She loved it! Quick tip: We put snacks in the eggs (Bambas, but you could use Goldfish or the like) instead of sweets and did the hunt at snack time! We also brought Fiona’s Easter basket and gave it to her Saturday morning. And since we were local, we were able to host a family Easter get-together Saturday evening and even attend our home church after packing up camp on Sunday morning.
Camping with a toddler is decidedly different. She cried a lot the first night, both because the environment was so new and because of teething. She struggled to go to sleep in the Pack ‘n Play with us right outside the camper, then woke every few hours throughout the night. I was afraid the crying would bother our neighbors, but we didn’t get any complaints (thank goodness). I really think the only way to get past the unfamiliar-ness is to do it more often (here we come camping season!), and ibuprofen helped the teething the second night (she slept all the way through til 6am!) though she still struggled to go down at first.
Fiona did really well at staying right in camp while we were setting up or cooking food. We kept a good eye on her, of course, but she was content to play with the gravel from the parking pad and find pine cones and dandelions. If she started to wander too far, or toward the road, we called her back to us. As she gets more bold, we may have to change tactics, but it worked this time. We are working on not allowing her to touch the fire pit or throw anything into it, ever. That way she’s less likely to get near it when there’s a fire.
Overall, super successful. But it did make for a tired Mama. I’m determined to power through these young years though. By the time she’s a full blown kiddo, she’ll be a pro at camping!