Well, we finally did it! We took the kids camping! Ok, so it was cheater camping… we stayed at a lodge in a room with a bathroom AND shower. But, that is my kinda camping! We decided to stay at the YMCA Trout Lodge, which is 1 hour and 30 minutes from our house in the Missouri Ozarks off of a beautiful lake. It is so nice staying at a YMCA camp, because it is family friendly and they have activities at every hour for you and the kids! They also provide a buffet for all of your meals and its inclusive! It was such a great experience! We were unplugged for 2 days and only had each other as a family to focus on. I can’t remember the last time we had that… the kids have been asking when we would go back and we are definitely going to make this a beginning of the summer tradition every year!
To save money, we decided to stay only one night (Sunday), but we got there by 10 a.m. on Sunday so we could enjoy all of the activities starting early in the morning. We did have to pack a picnic lunch, because our stay that night only included dinner, then breakfast and lunch the next day. When we first got there, I had a kite making activity planned for 10 a.m. and the kids went a little crazy. I do not suggest planning an activity when you first get there, the kids really needed a couple hours just to unwind and do what they wanted to do. I really should have put their swimsuits on them before we left, because they really wanted to swim and explore the beach on the lake.
The kite activity was really cute, the kids got to color their kite with sharpies, assemble them and then fly them out on the deck to the lake. Luckily, there was a nice breeze so the kids took off without much effort.
I had one more activity before our picnic lunch and it was the balloon archery. There are a few activities you need to reserve before showing up at them (such as the pontoon boat rides, etc.), so this was one I had reserved at 11 a.m.
Autumn wasn’t 5 and up, so she wasn’t old enough to participate. We each got one turn (5 arrows), before both kids started complaining they were hunnngggrryy. So, instead of taking two more turns each, we decided we would duck out early and have our picnic lunch early. If I had known better, I would have done something separate with Autumn… Brian did really good, he popped a balloon! I hit the target a couple times, but did not pop the balloon. Nathan had a hard time pulling it back, but he did get the hang of it after a few tries… I will admit, it was a little difficult for me at first, too!
After our picnic lunch… we did a lot and were sort of on our own schedule. We went and explored their teepee, but you couldn’t go inside it.
By the teepee there were some rustic steps, so I took that chance to take some lovely photos of the kids in nature. I love how these turned out!!
They even had tetherball there!
They had bikes the kids could rent out and Autumn got off hers and wanted me to take her picture on this big tree stump. Aww!
We decided to take a little break from the heat and decided to do some crafts! I wanted to do the leather working crafts, but we decided to do the painted pottery. They fire the pottery every night and you pick it up the next day at 10 a.m. I selected a pot, Nathan a race car and a dragon, Autumn a puppy and a cat and Brian did a ZOMBIE. I know, I know… that was a lot of pottery to paint! But, the kids loved it and it was so cheap compared to pottery studios in St. Louis. I think our total was $55 for all of it!
They do have a really nice beach and swimming area in the lake, complete with a slide and rope swing. the kids got to swim in the lake with their life vests in the marked off area for swimming. I wish I had some photos, but I did not have my phone on me since I didn’t want to get it wet!
After swimming in the lake, we headed off to one of our most anticipated reservations, the pirate water gun fight on pontoon boats! They split the group up into two and we went on separate boats aimed with these loooong water guns (which we got to keep!). We then shot them off at the other boat for a good 20 minutes! OH was I drenched! It was so much fun!
We walked by the funyaks and Nathan really wanted to do them… they are like kayaks, except they are in a closed in area so you aren’t out in the big lake. Brian was sweet enough to go out with him and unfortunately his boat had a leak and he went over!! He said the lake was REALLY deep (as in over his head!), too! So, good thing Nathan has his life jacket on!
At the end of the evening, they had a pirates luau! Most weekends they have a theme and this weekend it was a pirate theme.
The luau party included tug a war!
Snowcones (I think Auttie was tired of me taking her picture!)!
And, face painting! Isn’t Autumn cute with her red snowcone lips and her cupcake? After all of that, we were off to bed!