Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Camping/Nature Study

We took the kids on their first Tent Camping experience over the weekend.  And of course, our first night there we had severe thunderstorms with almost continuous lightning and rain that sounded as loud as a waterfall.  Luckily the rain didn't start until almost 9pm so we were able to get the campsite set-up, have dinner and were almost ready for bed when it started.  Unfortunately, the kids were definitely not going to go to sleep with the light and sound show going on.  At first, they said they were scared by the storm but they gradually settled down and ended up having a good time in the tent.   Each of the kids had their own flashlight, which was a good thing since someone (who me?) forgot the camping lantern.

First they played a game where they took turns dancing in the "spotlight" from one of the flashlights. 

I had brought glow sticks left over from Stephanie's 13th birthday party (yes, 3 years ago) and the kids played a game throwing them up in the air and diving after them on the sleeping bags.  Daddy had fun playing this game with them and of course jumping around like lunatics helped them settle down to go to sleep {insert eye roll here}.

After about an hour, the initial wave of rain started to slack off and the kids started to wear down.  Mom was the only one awake for the three subsequent waves of rain, thunder and lightning.  Not a great start to the weekend, especially not when Vicki woke up at 6:30 am.

The campground we stayed at was not far from where Daddy grew up in South Jersey.  Previously a quarry to excavate clay for a local brick company, there are 25 "lakes" that are actually excavations that filled in with water.   I would call them more swamps or ponds than lakes but there are many paths and hiking trails weaving in and out of the ponds with plenty of opportunities to see native wildlife and leading to great discussions on camouflage. 

If you look in the very center of the picture, you can see there is a butterfly with its wings folded up, allowing it to blend in with the tree bark.
This is what the same butterfly/moth looked like with its wings unfolded.  I've been trying to identify the species and it seems to be an Admiral butterfly.  There were a lot of these flying around and one actually landed on the front of my sweatshirt.

This is a Northern Water snake.  When we first came up to it, we startled it into the water.  It came out again immediately and when it stopped to hide in the brush it had a baby snake on its back.  Everything I've ever heard or read about snakes indicates they do not care for their young beyond a couple of weeks of birth but this one didn't seem that small compared to the adult.
Painted turtles, red-eared sliders and box turtles are all native to New Jersey.   We were pretty far away and it was hard to tell what he might be but Daddy thought he was a painted turtle.  If you look in the bottom left corner of the picture you will see the much larger turtle lying just under the water with his head sticking up between the lily pads.
Vicki checking out the swans, geese and ducks from one of the many bridges around the ponds.
The babies were adorable yellow puffs.  I'm pretty sure the white birds are Tundra swans but I've been unable to conclusively identify the gray and white birds.
One of the gray birds out of the water.  Anyone know what it is?
  In addition to the great hiking trails and abundant wildlife, the campground also had a great playground.  The kids loved climbing on the geodesic dome.  Georgie was actually pretty brave and climbed all the way to the top and dropped down through the middle.

There was a school bus-looking structure that had rotating letters that Georgie used to practice some of his spelling.  Since we haven't actually done any spelling and are still working on short a words in reading, I think I may need to step things up a bit to catch up to where he's actually at.
Making scary flashlight faces is a camping requirement.
Looking for tadpoles.  Cousin Zachary came to visit one day (after going out fishing with Daddy).

Despite the wet start the kids had a great time exploring the outdoors and enjoyed their first camping trip.

To see what others are doing check out Preschool Corner and 5K too and Homeschool Creations.


  1. What a fantastic experience. I am yet to convince my husband to go camping :)