26 adults + a shit ton of kids. They all said we were crazy, but when Mark suggested that we go camping to celebrate Zoey’s 5th birthday, I knew it would be the party of her tiny human dreams. We promised a day full of swimming, arts n’ crafts, exploring and riding bikes.. followed by hot dogs, corn on the cobb, and of course – s’mores.
We even had a “Bigfoot Hunt” on Saturday night, but I’m telling you – a pack of 5 year olds waving glow sticks in the dark is scarier than any gigantic, hairy, man-creature.
Sunday morning was met with sad good-byes, but promises of planning another camping trip soon. Like, next month soon! Enough of my babbling.. on to the pictures!
Friday afternoon / Evening
While most campers opted for a Saturday arrival, a few other RV families decided to make a weekend of it, too. We arrived Friday afternoon, got set up, had taco salad for dinner (thanks, Clifford Family!), put the kids to bed, then sat around the campfire chatting and drinking. Fun fact: I ate an entire plate of Doritos. In case you were wondering how I stay so slim. side eye.
One thing I love about the Santa Paula area are the lemon groves. I had to go into town on Saturday morning to get a few things and just couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the hills near our campground.
While we waited eagerly for the rest of our friends to arrive, Zoey opened a few presents and we took the kids swimming. You’ll also notice that the VW turned into a playground of sorts. The kids LOVE it. Who cares about running around in the dirt and riding your bike when you can play in a 1987 campervan? But they’re so cute, right?
Saturday afternoon / Arts n’ Crafts with Willhouse
Mark and I knew from the beginning that we didn’t want our friends to leave with party favor bags full of plastic trinkets and candy, so we called our friends Richard and Stacey (the talented husband/wife duo behind Willhouse) and asked them to come up with some fun, crafty activities for the kiddos. It was a nice distraction after swimming while Mark and I prepared drinks, set out snacks, and got to work on dinner. The crafts (pictured above) included: a “decorate your own” tic-tac-toe canvas bag + x and o painted rocks, an adorable “lantern” that they could customize with beads, and a customizable frame for on the spot Instax photos. Freaking cute, am I right? R+S, you guys are the raddest. (ps, friends.. Richard and Stacey are wedding/family/food photographing, website building, logo designing, workshop holding, super creative party people. I’ve included their site link above.
Saturday / Evening
By dinner time, we had nearly 40 people hanging at our campsite. It was such a great vibe! We served chicken sausages, hot dogs, corn on the cobb, chips & salsa and of course – margaritas, wine, and beer (and water and juice boxes for the kids.) After dark, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Let me tell you something.. the only thing scarier than a pack of glow stick-wielding 5 year olds on the hunt for a mythical creature, is a pack of 5 year olds who will stop at nothing to get marshmallows and chocolate. Savages! We wrapped things up shortly after, as the tiny people started having meltdowns (well, mine did) and the adults just wanted to sit around the fire and be adults. Which means telling stories from our high school days. Like, we used to be cool, but now we’re all just excited that our kids are in bed. These are the new glory days.
Overall, Saturday was a success.
Sunday / Goodbyes
*This photo was taken on Saturday evening. There are a few people missing from the shot, but here we are! Such a fun group!
We were up early on Sunday morning to fire up the Keurig (yes, we brought our fancy coffee machine) and get the campfire going for scrambled eggs wrapped in tortillas (or not) + breakfast sausages. My husband is so good at cooking on a campfire, I can’t even. We also offered cereal and bananas. I think we nailed the food part. Actually, I think we nailed everything. Nothing went wrong all weekend. Nothing.
And yeah, sure.. maybe we were a little crazy to come up with this idea – paying for several camping sites, feeding 50 people dinner and breakfast, providing snacks and beverages.. but I don’t regret it for one second. The reason we love camping is because it gives us a chance to press the reset button. We reconnect, we relax, we simplify. One of the moms said something that has stuck with me ever since – that people tend to “act human again” when they’re camping.. there’s a sense of community, camaraderie. It’s a pretty special thing to witness and be apart of.
This weekend we made new friends and possibly new traditions – I cannot wait to do it again, but maybe with less food. We have so much leftover, don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep with goodie bags of hot dog buns, macaroni salad, and Bud Light.
Thank you to everyone who came out – you made Zoey’s 5th birthday very special. :)