We took Austin on his very first camping trip this weekend. We tried last summer, but the trip failed miserably and we haven't gotten back since. This past Friday through Saturday we held a Kid's Camp for the youth I work with at the tribe with the North Kaibab Forest where Dustin works which is the ancestral homeland for the tribe. Since we were both involved with the camp we took Austin along and made it a family experience.
Friday we picked up the kids in the morning and headed for the forest. We had 13 Paiute kids participate, and the two daughters of Dustin's co-worker who headed up the camp efforts for the Forest Service. All the kids besides Austin ranged in age from 4-15. When we arrived they broke the kids into groups and we went to two of the learning stations, then lunch and then the other 4 stations. The learning stations were Leave No Trace, Timber/Silviculture, Firefighting/Fire Management, Paiute Games and Traditions, Archaeology/Paleontology, and Geology. Then we had some free time and then dinner. After dinner we did a camp fire and smores. After that we loaded up in the vans and drove to Jacob Lake (which is really just a wet meadow) where the Wildlife Department set up bat nets to try and catch one to show the kids. Unfortunately they were unable to catch one, but the Biologist taught the kids about mammals and talked about what she does for the Forest Service.
On Saturday we took the kids on what they called a Service Learning Project, which really was more of a tour of timber management areas. They compared areas that had been treated with areas that were way overgrown. We also went to the area of the Warm Fire which was a massive wildfire in 2006 that burned at high intensity and wiped out a large area of vegetation. We treated the kids to lunch at the Jacob Lake Inn. Then we went to a place called Three Lakes where I did a brief water quality monitoring lesson. By that point we were all pretty tired and the kids were at the point that they were tired of learning, so I made it short. Then we headed home and had all the kids returned before 5:00pm.
Austin did great, he was born to be outdoors! He was so good around the older kids, and at night he slept way better than Dustin and I. I definitely know that before we try to tent camp again we need to invest in a bigger air mattress since we put Austin in the middle and we both ended up half hanging off the sides around him. We had great weather the whole time other than getting a little chilly at night. I think the kids all had a great time.