Nature really can be as close as your backyard. We prove it with an overnight adventure that’s only a 30-minute drive from home but feels worlds away.
Miles of open space, just minutes from our urban home.
One night. Eight kids. Several turkeys. One blue-bellied lizard (aka the Western Fence Lizard
). Dozens of marshmallows. Lots of rubber scat. Add it up and Kiddieup Travel’s first sponsored adventure was a huge success.
Our plan was to have an outdoor adventure right in our backyard. In this case it was a night at Anthony Chabot Family Campground, a 75-site park that sits just southeast of the Oakland Zoo and Oracle arena. Stepping out of the cars and onto the park, the kids instantly left the city behind and rambled and roved. They found bugs in tree trunks and spotted wild turkeys ambling by for a drink.
Chillin’ in the girls tent.
Meanwhile over in the boys tent…
After setting up camp, it was time for the compass treasure hunt. Led by Jon and Meghan, the kids were taught compass basics then put them to use on a hunt across the camp for hidden treasure.
Jon, our fearless leader.
It takes a bit of concentration to the get the hang of orienting.
The girls get their bearings.
Putting “red fred in the shed” i.e. aligning the compass north.
Jon and Meghan mapped out the hunt before and then set the kids off to find the treasures – bubbles and play doh.
Enjoying the booty.
After dinner but before s’mores (oh, the wait!!) Anne and Lauren taught the kids some first-aid basics. Veteran hikers who have trekked the John Muir Trail and much of Patagonia and Rapa Nui, Anne and Lauren walked the kids through some important basics. Finn had fallen and gotten a little scrape during the compass hunt, so we had some real-life wounds to tend. He was an excellent patient.
Anne begins the first aid lesson with a little background on how to apply antiseptics to multiple wounds without spreading contamination.
Friends help dress the wound.
It was an extremely uncomfortable and un-funny first aid lesson.
Lauren and Anne begin the splinting.
The kids used found materials to build the splint.
Another patient in serious pain.
The art of roasting.
A smore with a side of chocolate.
Merrit presents the first in his succession of perfectly roasted mallows.
That night we headed to the amphitheater where ranger Morgan led that evening’s program. With the help of some original songs and rubber poop, we all learned a lot about scat including this one helpful basic—meat eaters are pinchers and vegetable eaters are ploppers. Thanks to Morgan, we’ll never mistake racoon poo with deer poo again.
Ranger Morgan stopped by to invite us to the amphitheater.
Amphitheater view from backstage.
Matching the animal to its scat.
Who’s going to finish the matching first?
Should I be touching this?
After more s’mores and some nighttime spooky stories, things quieted down at lights-out for the boys and around midnight for the girls. (They had some very important things to discuss!)
Morningwas spent enjoying loads of bacon and teaching the kids how to drop the tents. The campers were sad to go, but with compass in hand, knew that they could always find their way back.
Teaching the kids the magic of tent poles.
Testing out the poles themselves.
Setting Strawberry Blueberry Curry Chabot free (that’s quite a name for a lizard!)
Clean up crew.
Kiko, camp dog.
Journals and compasses.
I don’t know if the Orville’s were this proud when they made flight.
One last craft project, our camp cork mural.
This is why we camp.
A huge thanks to Paul Martin, Marc West-Teixeira, Anne Kitzmiller, Lauren Knochelmann, Jon Barber and Meghan Durney and of course all our kid campers. Without you, this would not have been possible!
More Kiddieup Travel events to come. Watch this space or get in touch!