After two weeks of busy, busy, busy at camps (that I signed up to help with at 8 months pregnant in the middle of summer for some reason), we decided to take it a bit easier and have fun at our own pace. We are spending plenty of time at home with inexpensive, local thrills thrown in. Call it Mama’s Day Camp, if you will. Particularly since the baby will be here in four weeks or less, I feel the need for fun times now. Once #3 arrives, those times may be put on hold for several weeks!
All this week the kids and I will look for a few hours of fun each day out in the community, and we will share our adventures with you! Our goal is little to no cost.
DAY 1: Cedar Point Trail
On Monday we hit the spot where we recently went camping, Cedar Point Trail in the Croatan Forest, not far off of HWY 58. This time, we knew just what to bring! Water shoes, bottled water, snacks, and bug spray are a definite plus if you plan to spend any time on the trail or at the water’s edge. Only one viewpoint has a decent place for the kids to play and chase the thousands of fiddler crabs that live there, but there are also shells and larger crabs in the shallow water. Watch your step!
Also, unless you want to end up carrying a hot and tired toddler on a miles-long trail, stay to the left when you first hit the trail. NEVER, EVER go right!
Obviously, the trail is totally free. The kids spent about two hours running along the shore trail, collecting fiddler crabs (even finding one that was as tiny as a “piece of dirt!”), swimming, and identifying poison ivy and poison oak (a recently learned skill from Boy Scout camp).
For those with more time and energy, take the scenic long trail. Plenty of dog walkers and runners do. Or, bring some kayaks and take the ramp that’s just left of the trail. Pack a lunch and hit the picnic tables afterwards.
Sometimes the simplest trip down the road can turn into the best day. I’m currently reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, which states that my generation didn’t grown up in the outdoors. That may be mostly true for some of us. But I did. And I remember my outdoor times more fondly than most others. I didn’t move to Morehead City, NC and an actual neighborhood until I was about 4. Before then and during those growing-up years I spent a lot of time at my grandparents, which was out in the country, surrounded by fields and woods. I played for hours, alone, in a creek I called “Cow’s Creek.” I’m now pretty positive I was also playing in cow’s poop, but hey, what’s done is done. I’m still alive. I ran through tobacco fields. I pretended I lived in the Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie the Pooh. I tamed kittens, fed goats and chickens and rabbits. I walked the paths and made new ones. I found places behind the usual fields and trees I had never seen before. And I had the absolute best time.
We think our kids need more stimulation. They don’t. Monday I gave my kids a bucket in a salt marsh and set them free. Their growing minds were free to explore, become curious and creative, and gain knowledge and appreciation for the world around them.
I still remember what it felt like to be a kid in a corn field. Free, with the natural world and endless possibilities all around you, places and creatures to explore in every direction, one-ness with something much larger than yourself, peaceful, content, full of wonder and awe. I want my kids to know that very same feeling, and as often as possible.
For more information on camping and hiking at the Croatan National Forest Cedar Point Trail, please visit http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/southern/crocmp.htm.