This year, I have introduced camping to my kids. Taking a family camping trip with an autistic child has it’s challenges. I was worried how they would react the first time we took them camping. My husband and I planned out what to take and what we would do while camping. The first family camping trip started out chaotic. We had to make several trips to the store to get items we had forgotten. Packing was a huge chore. I wanted to make sure the kids had a few items from home to keep in the tent. I also needed to make sure that I packed my son’s sheet (he won’t sleep without it), and his radio (have to be able to listen to Shania Twain).
With the truck filled with camping gear and what not (really, do we need all of this to go camping with?), we headed out to the campgrounds. It’s a good thing that it is close by, because we did forget a few things. Hard to imagine, with everything that we packed, we actually forgot an item or two.
Setting up the tent was our first task. It went up without too much trouble. Unloading the truck was a family event. All done, I sat down in my chair and watched my husband go back to the house to pick up the few items we forgot. I played games with my daughter while we waited for his return. My son, of course, listened to Shania.
When my husband returned, we went fishing. My son wasn’t happy about that, at first, because I wouldn’t let him bring his radio. Fishing went over great with the kids. My daughter snagged her first catfish, by the eye. The rest of us didn’t catch a thing. The rest of the camping trip went by quick. We were only there for one night. Not long enough for me.
Our second family camping trip, this past weekend, was for the whole weekend. We didn’t bring my son’s radio, because he had played his Shania CD so much, that the CD player in his radio would not work. Big mistake. The next morning, I sent my husband back to the house to get it.
There were a lot of campers there, this time. Last time, it was us and another family. This time, there were a couple of scout troops. I was surprised that I knew the troop leaders. My daughter was happy to have a lot of other kids to play with. This meant that the rest of us were able to take it easy. My son listened to music and my husband and I relaxed. We did manage to pull my daughter away from the other kids long enough to go fishing.
If you have an autistic child, don’t assume that camping isn’t for you. My son loves it. The key was to make sure he had a few of his favorite items. It’s also nice to get away from the house and just be out in nature. Now, we are planning a family camping trip at the beach. I am really looking forward to it.