Marcus's 6th Birthday: A Weekend Camping Adventure

Robert and Marcus have camped in a friend's Roslindale backyard two years in a row for a night at the end of the summer, but this year, for his sixth birthday, we decided to give Marcus a full-on two-night camping adventure. Sarah and Sean came with us, as great friends and expert campers, and we got two adjoining campsites at Wompatuck State Park in Hull/Hingham, about an hour south of Boston in (as Samantha likes to say) "the deep dark woods." We would do it again next year for sure--maybe other friends will even join us!

I can say that there were indeed lots of preparations to be made for camping. I set things aside and stockpiled them in the dining room for a week before, as Robert cast dire predictions that it wouldn't all fit in the (Jeep Patriot Zip)car. It did, though--with Marcus's bike and Samantha's new scooter, even!

We left Boston on Friday, Marcus's actual birthday, after a festive breakfast (Me: "Marcus honey, I will make you anything you like for breakfast today. Waffles? Pancakes?" Marcus: "OATMEAL!" I did. He ate three bowls.) and a quick visit with Robert's father, who stopped by with a present for Marcus since he was going to be in Tanglewood all weekend. By the time we got the car packed and made a fast stop at a friend's house in Newton (Olga had had a sweet baby boy on my birthday, just two weeks earlier, so I loaned her a wrap and helped her practice a bit), it was lunchtime, so we went to Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill, which was quiet and mellow on a weekday. Marcus had a hot dog and fries and a caramel milkshake.

From Chestnut Hill we drove down to the South Shore and stopped at Nantasket Beach in Hull to walk/scoot/bike along the boardwalk and hang out at the playground until Sarah and Sean were done with work.

We all met at the campground around 6:00, and helped/watch Sean set up the tents, the shelter over the picnic table, and the table for their camp stove. We were staying in Sarah and Sean's luxuriously large two-room tent, while they took the smaller one for the weekend, and we had the campsite (P5) closer to the bathroom, while they had the one closer to the water supply.

I checked out the bathrooms, and the sign on the door really gave me pause, but they were actually lovely bathrooms, bright and clean and completely unsmelly, with very soft toilet paper. There was, however, a ton of poison ivy around and between the campsites, and along the sides of the bike paths/roads, so I was somewhat shocked that Marcus made it through the whole weekend without actually getting poison ivy. Sarah and Sean also unveiled their annual camping tee shirts (and tote bag, as I'm not a tee-shirt person), and everyone quickly put theirs on.

A fire was built, corn was roasting, potatoes baking, and hot dogs and sausages cooking.

After dinner we had a cupcake Sarah brought with a cool Darth Vader candle for Marcus, and some Rice Krispy treats I made, and we sang to him. Then we tried to roast marshmallows, only to discover that they'd melted in Sean's car during the day and become a giant 10-ounce lump of marshmallow fluff, completely un-toastable. We turned in around 10:00, Marcus in the cool Star Wars sleeping bag John and Mike gave me one year, and Robert and I and Samantha on some extra pads Sarah had, plus my old Girl Scout sleeping bag spread out below us, with some lightweight fleece sleeping bags for each of us and a big fleece blanket over that. Marcus was perfect; Samantha and I were warm; Robert was freezing, but we made it through the night.

Saturday morning we were all up by 6:00. Robert complained that he'd been cold and there had been a rock in his back all night, Sean thought he heard a noise and got up to investigate, Sarah got nervous when she woke up and found Sean not in the tent, but Marcus, Samantha, and I at least slept soundly! Sean made eggs on the camp stove and bacon in a foil packet by the fire and homefries from the potatoes he'd baked the night before. We had coffee and cocoa and orange-mango juiceboxes, and it was a great morning.

After breakfast, when the fire was out, we took a scenic stroll past a swampy area with frogs and a snake (Sarah's favorite) and walked over to a lake so Marcus could try his hand at some fishing. We got just one bite--a tiny little fish that we tossed right back--but he had a great time at it. Samantha mostly sat on the side and ate clementines and trail mix with Sarah and me, and then we walked back to the campsite.

Lunch was baked potatoes with salsa con queso and spinach cooked with carmelized onions and garlic. We also made grilled cheese sandwiches with some of the spinach-onion mixture, thick slices of tomato, and a triple creme cheese on roasted garlic foccacia in those "mountain pie" cast iron sandwich makers, and then we made dessert sandwiches with peanut butter and salted toffee milk chocolate squares on brioche in the same sandwich makers.

Again we let the fire die down and then changed and headed back to Nantasket Beach, this time for Marcus's birthday party at the Paragon Carousel. Grandma, Pop-pop, and Aunt Mary brought down the cupcakes (chocolate cake with peanut butter-caramel frosting), some Pirate's Booty, little bottles of water, and juice boxes, and Ren and Matt, Juan Carlos, and Marissa and Jon met us there.

There were seven kids in all, and they each got a wristband to ride the carousel as often as they wanted while we were there. We played two rounds of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey (Marcus's request) and wore special birthday hats (Samantha's request). Marcus had a great time--he rode hand-in-hand with Amalia several times, and then made a chain with Juan Carlos (making crazy faces) as well.




Around 5:30 we left the carousel and walked down the street to Marvel's Lunchbox, where we (eventually) got lobster rolls, crab rolls, Portuguese seafood stew with fabulous grilled cornbread, and meatball subs to go. We split up, with Jon, Matt, and Robert bringing all seven kids over to the beach and then the playground, while Ren, Sarah, Marissa, Juan Carlos, and I waited for the food.

We walked the food back up to the playground to eat, and all the kids were happy and sugar-crazed and grimy. We ended the birthday festivities by feeding the leftover french fries to some very happy seagulls, and then we headed back to the campground with Sarah and Sean.

We (of course) made another fire, this time for s'mores with the new marshmallows Sarah had bought, and enjoyed the glow sticks and the glow ball before calling it a night again around 10:00.

On Sunday morning we built our last fire and Marcus, Sarah, and Robert cooked breakfast sausages over it (I think Marcus ate three while he was cooking them). Then Marcus and Sean made pancakes, and I had another baked potato with spinach and cheese for breakfast (not a pancake person).

We waved goodbye to Sarah and Sean as we needed to wash off a serious layer of dirt before getting in the car to go home, and we left the campground at 11:00 and headed back to Boston. Lunch was ramen and curry at the place by the Super88 foodcourt in Allston, as we were driving home, and then we unloaded everything, unpacked, washed off more dirt, and relaxed a little bit before finishing the weekend with a church potluck supper at Ren and Matt's house. Marcus got to play with Amalia and Sabrina two days in a row, and the evening marked the end of a great, festive weekend.


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Created: 8/25/14. Last Modified: 8/25/14.