For the second year in a row, Katie and I took the family to Fort Wilderness in Reinlander, WI for Family Camp. This has turned into one of our favorite weeks of the year. The Northwoods are so beautiful, but for us it has been about the community.
When I think back on our week at the Fort, I think of a giant family gathering. How cheesy does that sound? But here's the deal: the camp is full of families with kids of all ages. Each family is so unique and so friendly. We have met the neatest people there. The Fort has established a sense of community that makes me as a parent extremely comfortable having my son freely walk around and explore. This was my biggest memory from 2010: Sorin was able to walk around the dining hall and the walking trails on his own for so much of the trip. Don't get me wrong, I kept a close eye on him. But you can immediately feel the community love on these kids from the smiles, to the waves, to the gentle direction and watchful eye of a stranger who's about to become a new friend.
I watched for one week while Sorin walked more than he's ever walked in a week. The camp is wide open and has trails that must be a path to adventure for a little kid. Sorin had his first exposure to so many trees, the lake, trails, and even a playground. I had him in our backpack for a couple trips and he loved the view from my back. One of the warmest feeling I got was when so many of the men and women would look at him and call him by name. To have other families embrace my child is very special.
My parenting years are only numbering two, but I feel it's safe to say that this type of community is not common for today's youth. Sorin has an extended community of family and friends that make me excited to allow him to grow up as a Fort camper.
And Norah. Well it was her first year and she was an angel. Not really, but how do you follow up Sorin's experience with an 8-week old baby? Norah didn't sleep so well so we had a long week in that regards. To be fully honest, I slept pretty well - it was Katie that struggled. All kidding aside, we did have a hard time with Norah. We wouldn't have it any other way, but two kids under two makes "vacation" not the most accurate description of the week.
Still, Katie and I had some nice times together on walks to and from meals and a couple times at the beach. Of course we also had the added benefit of both sets of grandparents at Family Camp with us. They helped quite a bit which is so nice.
Katie and Sorin and I were in a tent for the week at Family Camp #1 last year. This year with a newborn we decided to get a cabin. Boy was that a great idea! We had a huge cabin all to ourselves without a worry of waking up any other campers when Norah started to cry. One of my favorite memories was around 7pm each night. I'd give Sorin a quick shower to clean off his suntan lotion and dirt. We'd get our pajamas on and sit around on the mattress that Katie and I slept on which was place between two bunk beds. Sorin's pack-n-play was on the other side of a bunk and Norah slept on another bed or right next to Katie. We had this whole cabin to ourselves to end our day as a family getting ready for bed. It's moments like this that make me excited to create and continue annual rituals like Family Camp.
If you have children from newborn through high school, I would highly recommend Fort Wilderness Family Camp. You can ask question in the Comment section or email me. Kids these days have a lot of video games, tv, cell phones, and the cement of the city. Fort Wilderness allows me and my family to get out into God's creation, see His beauty, and explore the great outdoors.