Why did we decide to campout out with our 4 children, one of which was only 2 months old?
I had questions. I wanted to find out for myself what it would take for our family to be prepared if a situation arose. It could be a natural disaster, a turn in the economy or an emergency of any sort. How much water would we need for a family of 6 to drink, wash and cook with? How much and for how long would I want a supply of food, water or wood to last me? What do we need and what would be nice to have? How much propane if cooking with camp stoves? How many tents to live comfortably? How do we stay entertained? How long do all the chores around camp take? Some of the answers to these questions really surprised me when I actually experienced them.
We wanted to create an experience with our family that would teach us to learn together, work together and make memories that would last a lifetime.
We were in the AirForce full time and got out on Palace chase and joined up with a reserve group. So we moved to Idaho onto a piece of land and camped out for the duration of the summer then moved into our tiny house.
In this article I will focus on the set up and function of the camp.
Where did we decide to “live off the land” at?
We acquired land that we now own in the west central mountains of Idaho. It was a bare piece of land with no tree’s, no electricity and no Well. Indeed, it was a blank canvas ready for our brush strokes to create the color of life we wanted to see in it.
Once we picked our spot, we cleared it and made a plan for how we wanted the tents to be set up.
The kids LOVED it!
This was our favorite spot overlooking the pond. We wanted the master suite tent to be right there.
We had two horses, a mare and a filly, then we got a McNab herding dog pup who we named Drover and a cat to have around camp to help with any field mice that might cause us grief.
How did we set up the camp and tents?
We set up four tents. The Main Tent with the living space. The Wardrobe Tent has the families clothes and dressing room. Two sleeping tents, The first would be the master bedroom tent with two rooms, one for our bed, the other was for our baby and young daughter. The second sleeping tent was for our older two boys and a space for toys and playing. A covered area for laundry and bathing, a place to do dishes and an outdoor area with a fire pit for cooking and sitting around the fire and visiting.
The Living Room, Kitchen and Outdoor Spaces
We brought our furniture to camp. The couch had wood legs to be easier to maintain and clean. There was drawers near the couch that had our scriptures, journals and other books in it. We had some cabinets we put dishes and food inside of. The green water container was for drinking.
After some trial and error and moving things around we used this tent just for a dining, sitting, food pantry and kitchen. We would watch movies from our laptop that we would charge in the car or plug into a small generator we had. A hay bale in front of it helped to diffuse the noise.
The tent sides during the heat of the summer would be rolled up on the sides to allow a breeze to flow through it.
Warming toes and drinking hot cocoa became a morning routine for the kids.
We used an outdoor fire pit to do a lot of the cooking. Occasionally we used a gas cooking stove.
As the summer went on it became chillier with more rain. We brought a wood stove into the tent and started cooking on its cooktop surface.
Hot coals on top of a Dutch oven helps to cook things evenly.
Dishes, Bath and Laundry
We built a water tower to gravity feed a water hose with a turn on valve.
We made a wash center for hands and dishes next to the tower. First bin you rinsed the dishes, second bin you washed the dishes, third bin rinsed clean and the the dish rack to dry.
Under a covered tarp we had dirty clothes bins and a trough we used for cleaning laundry as well as bathing in. We used an old fashioned ringer to help wring out the water so they would dry faster on the line. As the summer went on I have to admit I started going to the laundry mat. It is a lot of work and very time consuming doing laundry this way.
We experimented with all different ways to heat bath water but the easiest was heating a big pot over the fire to almost a boil and pour it in the tub. By the time you did that a few times (like 10-12 times) you got yourself a nice hot bath to soak in. This so called simple life, was hard and everything took a long time. This was one of my favorite things to do in the evening though. There is something magical about soaking in a warm bath while camping under the stars.
Dressing room tent
It was really nice to have a walk in closet where all the clothes were centrally located. This helped putting away and cleaning it a lot easier than if it was in everyone’s own space.
The Sleeping tents
Our master suite was a two room tent. We put our real bed inside the tent, no roll out mats or cots here. The 2nd room had our baby and youngest daughters beds. Our kids slept so well while camping. The air was cool at night and we would bundle them up with warm clothes and cozy blankets all snug. It was also very quiet when the animals weren’t talking. You could listen to elk, owls and coyotes at night. Our tent had a covered front porch that I had a rocking chair on. I loved sitting and looking at the view.
Our second sleeping tent just had our older boys beds in it with a toy area to play.
How long did we camp? A: We started camping July 15th through September 18th.
How long did it take to do chores everyday? A: The chores were cooking, washing dishes, laundry, cleaning up camp, chopping wood and any particular project we were working on. It would take us till just after lunch time to finish up so about 1 or 2 in the afternoon.
What was the worst thing? A: When school started up. At the end of August it got unusually cold. It got down to 20 degrees so my dish water was frozen. I would start the car, turn on the heater, make breakfast and stick it in the car, grab my kids clothes and shoes and socks and put those in the car and then I would get the kids up and put them directly into the car. They got ready in there. Our rental was not available till the 18th so we made the best of it till then.
What was the best thing? A: I loved this experience! (Minus the few weeks of a cold spell there at the end.) I got more freckles and sunshine, had a daily purpose and it was very good to be out there creating our life as it was.
The wildlife was amazing as well. There was this one night we heard a splash and a whole herd of elk came down and swam across our pond right in front of our tent. It was magical and one of the coolest things during the camping adventure. The stars and milky way were incredible too. You could see so many and they were so bright!
Have any questions or comments leave them for us, we would love to hear from you.
How did you like your visit to Creating Arcadia today?