Last year was a big camping year. We did our usual Memorial Day trip to Afton, I took Louis on his first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area over Father's Day weekend, we visited our favorite campground on Lake Superior (Temperance River Campground), and spent a week in Yellowstone National Park. This year, we did not do a very good job of blocking off weekends, so we don't have as many trips on the books. The least we can do, though, is to share some of our learnings from camping with our 2 boys, so hopefully it encourages you to give it a shot! Feel free to email us @info@sevensundays.com with any specific questions or additions to the list -- we'd love to be a resource! -Hannah & Brady

Before Your Trip

  • Reserve your campsite: Many states now have online reservation systems (like Minnesota DNR) that can get booked up on busy weekends month's in advance, so book early! Parks also keep many sites available for 1st come 1st serve as well. 
  • Practice camping at home:  Pitch a tent in the backyard and give it a try. Let your kids hang out in it and sleep in it so they become comfortable with a new sleeping environment. Chances are they will think its a fort and fall in LOVE with it. 

Preparing for a Trip

  • Keep all of your gear in one spot: We have a shelf in our garage dedicated to all of our camp gear in Rubbermaid tubs. This helps reduce pack time and ensure we do not forget anything (although we still always do!). 
  • Stay positive: Why should your kids get fired-up about a family camping trip if you're not? It helps to pack the night before so you are less rushed and stressed. 
  • Bring bikes: If it's a long way from your campsite to the beach or play area, it's faster (and more fun) to use a bike instead of walking or driving. Bikes keep kids entertained, too.
  • Meal plan: We usually make a list of camp meals and visit our local Co-op before heading out of town. If you are car camping, it is much easier to pack a skillet and cooler than if you are backcountry or canoe camping. In either situation, we usually car camp the first night and get at least one dinner and one breakfast while we have the cooler, then pack shelf stable foods and lighter snacks for days 2 and 3. We usually keep it simple with a big breakfast of muesli or pancakes, pack snacks or sandwiches during the day, and hot dogs and S'mores in the evening.
  • Check the weather: As Louis and I found out in the Boundary Waters, weather can change very quickly. If you don't have cell signal, check in with the nearest outfitter or park ranger before heading out.

At the Campground

  • Positive vibes: Be prepared to cope with inconvenience and bad weather. Its best lead by example with an upbeat, can-do attitude.
  • Stay organized: Establish locations for important items like head lamps, matches, etc.
  • Involve your kids: Assign them some meaningful camp chores, such as gathering firewood or collecting water. Recognize their contributions.
  • Make the most of nature: Look for wildlife. Check out bugs. Examine rocks. Play in the water. Show interest in things that interest them. I was amazed at how much Louis entertained himself for hours with sticks, camp pots and water. 
  • Tire them out. If you follow the above instructions, chances are you will all be ready to crash right at dark. Don't even bother trying to put them to bed before you go. 

 

Peachy Baked Muesli

May 09, 2017

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It is around five o’clock in the morning when I tiptoe downstairs. I slip on Saucony shoes, wool socks, cotton gloves, Smartwool hat, facemask, a headlamp and I’m off. It’s dark outside. The cement sidewalk is not visible underneath the thick, crunchy layer of ice and snow. It is typically between 0 and 20 degrees, though if you live in the North, you know that with wind chill it feels like negative 10. So it’s really cold. Oddly, I am not one of those people that like cold. Ask Brady about my sleep socks sometime. But I don’t mind winter running. In fact, I love it.

It is quiet and peaceful on the path around Lake Harriet in South MPLS at this hour and this time of year. The bike paths are always plowed (even before our streets) after a snow – I love this about our city. And no matter how cold it is, or how early I go, there are always at least one set of tracks before me and at least a dozen ducks in the creek. So who can complain?

“Why not run on a treadmill?” It’s not the same. I have a “busy” mind, and I am unable to find the same serenity that I get outside when I am inside on a treadmill. I bring nothing with me when I run outside – no watch, no music, no phone. Like camping, winter running requires you to embrace the outdoor elements in a way that makes you feel alive, connected and present. I don’t make it out for a run every morning, but my mind is noticeably clearer on days that I do.

Fueling winter runs means having healthy and quick snacks on hand for in between meals. I’ve got a whole list of things that I rotate through – toast with peanut butter and crunchy sprouts, Cocoa & Coconut muesli with milk and a spoonful of peanut butter, a banana with peanut butter. There is a trend…

The following flourless peanut buttery bites are my latest concoction and just what I need between meals to keep my energy level up throughout the day. They are also work well as an on-the-go breakfast and after school snack for the boys. Enjoy!

Recipe: Peanut Buttery Muesli Bites

Makes 2 dozen

1 cup muesli (Cocoa & Coconut pictured above)

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

1 cup peanut butter (Add up to 2 Tbsp of coconut oil if your peanut butter is on the drier side)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Mix the egg, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Slowly mix in the muesli and baking soda. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Form the dough into balls (about 1.5 Tablespoons) and place onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool and store in a sealed container for up to a week.

 

Hot muesli for these oh so COLD days. 

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