Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stay Tuned!

You may have noticed that I've been a little quiet on the blog, but that's because I've been busy working on a new project. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the near future!

For now, please follow our adventures on Instagram and Twitter at 3kidsandacamper.

Happy Camping,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bear Creek Campground at Lake Compounce Review

Father's Day weekend saw our return to Bear Creek Campground at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. We spent 4 days at Lake Compounce and my kids loved every minute of it. Our first visit was last Father's Day weekend and we went again later in the summer. Bear Creek is a relatively new campground, built in 2014, and owned by Lake Compounce Amusement Park (Festival Fun Parks LLC). The campground is located across the parking lot from the park entrance and it is easily walkable or there is a tram that provides guests rides to and from the park.

During our first stay last year, we became Lake Compounce Platinum Season Pass Holders and thanks to a Black Friday Special, we are Diamond Pass Holders this year. Bear Creek has new Stay and Play Package options or you can purchase a Lake Compounce season pass starting at $55.

While we stayed in a RV site, Bear Creek offers tent, tipi, cub hut and cabin rentals, in addition to both tent and RV sites. This was our third stay at Bear Creek and each time they have made improvements to both the facilities and programming from our previous visit. The Activity Schedule is a little more robust this summer and the kids had fun crafting and playing games.

The kids were so proud of their Father's Day crafts.
The best thing about Bear Creek Campground is of course it's proximity to Lake Compounce Amusement Park. Lake Compounce is a great family-friendly park with traditional rides, Dino Expedition with lifelike dinosaurs and Crocodile Cove, its water park. All three of my children love visiting Lake Compounce and my 9 year old was thrilled that he was able to ride their newest roller coaster, Phobia Phear. The coaster was closed twice while my son and husband were waiting in line, the second time they were next to ride, but the third time was a charm and they were finally able to ride. My twins love the Kiddie rides and cannot wait until they are ready to join their big brother on the bigger thrill rides. Another plus is that the campground's store, bathrooms and other are very well maintained and always clean. Everyone from the campground manager to maintenance crew are friendly and more than willing to assist campers.
They finally conquered Phobia Phear!
We really have only one complaint about Bear Creek and that is fact that there is no escape from the heat! As the campground is only a few years old, it is lacking shade since most of it was clear cut. There is some shade along the edges of the campground and the Premium Tent Sites, but otherwise shade is at a minimum. It can be very hot with the relentless summer sun beating down. To go along with that, there is neither a pool nor splash park (or even a hose and sprinkler) at Bear Creek. I understand that they most likely want you to visit Crocodile Creek, the water park at Lake Compounce, but there are times when kids and parents need to take a mid-day break from the park and having an option at the campground would only improve the camping experience.

My three kids keep asking when we'll be returning to Bear Creek this summer and we hope to book another trip towards the end of August, this time with friends! Overall, it's a great place for families, and the perfect place to plan a fun activity like making sponge water balls to keep cool on those hot summer days.

Happy Camping,
Pulling Out of Our RV Site

Tipi rentals

Friday, June 3, 2016

It's Raining...Caterpillars?!?

This past weekend's camping trip will forever be remembered as the "Weekend of the Caterpillars." Southern New England has seen a huge increase in the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar population this spring and it was literally raining caterpillars and frass (believe it or not, there is a technical term for caterpillar poop). You couldn't find a caterpillar-free surface and the one time I set up my camp chair, they kept crawling all over my shoes. Enough about the caterpillars for now!

May was a very hectic month. In between several rounds of the stomach bug, severe allergies and finishing the semester, I was also planning a surprise party for my mother's birthday. The party was planned for the Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend. We still wanted to camp for the weekend, but knew we had to stay local. We chose Whispering Pines Campground, a family-friendly campground in Hope Valley, RI, about 35 minutes from our home. We have been to Whispering Pines numerous times and it was actually the site of our "maiden voyage" in June 2014. My husband, father-in-law and the 3 year olds took the camper down on Friday to set-up and the plan was for them to come home and then we'd all go back Saturday morning. When they arrived home on Friday afternoon, my husband told me there was a small problem at the campground. I panicked, thinking there was something wrong with our reservation or site, but laughed it off when he told me the problem was that there were a lot of caterpillars. He did not mention it was more like a plague of caterpillars, so I forgot all about it as I continued to get ready for that night's party.

The next morning, we were at the campground by 9am. We had stopped at McDonald's to pick up pancakes on the way there and were ready to have breakfast in our new screen house. During the night, caterpillars had managed to crawl under the screen house and inside, so we had to do a little cleaning before we could eat. Welcome to the weekend!

Just a few of our caterpillar visitors
Right after breakfast, we jumped into the weekend's activities. The youngest two did a Memorial Day flag craft, then we took a walk to the vendor fair and had a relaxing few hours by the pool. They have a nice in-ground pool and it was a busy place because it was such a hot day. My favorite part was that there are no trees around the pool and we had a reprieve from our furry friends. The one thing that I dislike is that smoking is allowed in the pool area. My parents, brother and his family visited for dinner, a barrel train ride and some more time at the pool. There was a live band that evening and we were able to hear the music while enjoying some time at our campfire.

Sunday was a day full of activities, from crafts, to another barrel train ride, more swimming, a duck race and frog jumping contest. My 9 year old was obsessed with finding a frog to race later that afternoon and my poor husband had to spend the majority of the day with him (unsuccessfully) looking for a frog. The duck race was a lot of fun and the best part was that the profits were going to the March of Dimes, which is an organization that our family is very involved with. At frog race time, my husband and son went to watch. A boy who lent him a net earlier in the day, asked my son to join his "team" and their humongous frog ended up finishing in first place! Not too bad for showing up to the event without a frog. We didn't have much luck at candy bingo, but it's always one of our favorite things to do there.
Cheering on the Frogs

Sunday night and into Monday, we had very heavy rain storms. We were excited at first, thinking that the rain would wash away the caterpillars and their mess, but that was short lived. When we woke up, we discovered that all it did was grind everything in and make a bigger mess. There were events scheduled for Monday, but we spent the morning cleaning and packing up while the kids played in the camper. I have to say that I have never been more ready to head home than I was that day.

Our Home for the Weekend
Obviously the caterpillar plague was out of the campground's control and other than that, we had a good time. Whispering Pines is a medium-sized campground that offers cabins in addition to tent and RV sites. The staff and majority of the seasonal campers are very helpful and friendly and the facilities are clean. It's a great place to visit with kids because it's not too big, but there are a lot of other kids and activities for them. They own two other campgrounds in Rhode Island too and we have a return trip scheduled to their Ashaway RV Resort over the 4th of July.

We tried out a few of our new camping purchases over the weekend and I'll be doing another post soon to talk about those.

Our next camping trip is in a few weeks to Bear Creek Campground at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT. It can be hot there due to the fact that the trees aren't mature, but I am thrilled that we won't have a second "Weekend of the Caterpillars."

Happy Camping,
Exploring the Campground
Duck Race--the first heat is off!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

And We're Off!

Brialee RV & Tent Park in Ashford, CT   April 22-24, 2016
We made it!
Despite two storms on Friday night, the second one being a huge thunderstorm, our first camping trip of the 2016 season went down in the books as a success. We decided to try an April trip this year and chose Brialee RV & Tent Park because they had a full activity schedule, which can be hard to find this early in the season, plus with an off-season rate of $20/night, we couldn't go wrong!

Living in New England limits our camping season and our camper has been parked in our driveway since the end of October. It was as though it was Christmas Eve again the night before we left, based on the level of excitement in our house. All three kids were eagerly anticipating a fun weekend of camping. The camper was fully stocked, car packed and address loaded in the GPS when I got home from work at 11am on Friday. The kids chatted about the "new campground" for most of our trip and my youngest son spent almost the whole hour asking "are we there yet?".

When we arrived, we were given a map to our site. I was a little disappointed at first as we drove away from the playground since I asked to be on a site near there, but was pleasantly surprised to discover a second playground as we pulled up to our site. Our site was in a field-type area and we were not thrilled with that. I did call the office to see if we could be moved to a site with some shade, but was told that all of the sites were full! We certainly weren't expecting to hear that in April. We settled into our site and while my husband was setting up the camper, the kids and I went exploring. We were near a brand new bathroom, with showers, in addition to playground, fields and covered pavilion. The site was a little tight, but was all grass, which is always a plus.
The new bathroom and showers
One of the playgrounds 

It was Earth Day Weekend, so the campground's activities were Earth Day themed, as were the activities I planned for my kids. While there, we went for walks in the woods on their paths (the wooden walkway definitely needs a little TLC), visited the playgrounds, participated in activities like crafts, candy bingo and a 2.5 hour marathon kickball game for my oldest son. There was a Family Movie Night on the Saturday night and the movie being shown was Daddy's Home. I didn't think was the best choice for younger kids, so we had a fun evening around our campfire instead.
A walk through the woods
 A majority of campgrounds don't have activities on Sunday and have an early checkout, but Brialee has Sunday activities and a late check-out. It definitely made packing up on Sunday morning less stressful!

Overall, we had a good time and would definitely consider returning, especially since we were not able to enjoy the pool, splash pad and pond this visit. All three kids asked when we were going back as we were heading home. I would not want a site in the same area during the summer as there was no shade, but there were some shaded sites that would be great for a hot summer weekend. 

Next up, Whispering Pines Campground in Hope Valley, RI for Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Camping,

P.S. See below for some more pictures from our weekend at Brialee!

Collecting rocks to paint.

Planting our strawberry plants for home.
Painting their rocks.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

T Minus 24 Hours

We have less than 24 hours before we kick off the 2016 camping season! There are three excited kids in my house, all armed with $5 each from Grammy to spend in the camp store. We've been getting the  camper ready all week and that involved a HUGE shopping yesterday.

My husband takes care of the camper maintenance "stuff," while I stock the camper, plan meals and pack for myself and the kids. I purchased some new goodies for this year, some big and some small, and I'm looking forward to trying them out. I'll be sharing reviews of them as we try them out.
We still had more shopping to do and no room left in our cart!

The kids are excited to explore a new campground and I'm excited to see what activities they're offering as part of their "Earth Day Weekend." We always choose campgrounds that have activities for kids and it's an added bonus when they have them for adults too!

There have been elevated fire weather warnings for Southern New England this week. I'm not sure if there will be campfire restrictions as a result, but we will find out tomorrow. We have the S'mores supplies packed and will be cooking them over the grill if needed. S'mores are an essential part of camping for us, although my daughter eats them without the chocolate. I'm still trying to figure out where she came from because I love chocolate.

Where are you camping this weekend?

Happy Travels,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

3 Kids and a Camper

Trying to start a blog with baby twins in 2013 was a little too much to handle, but I'm back! My twins are now three (or almost four, as they like to say) and my oldest son is nine. We've done a lot since my last post in May 2013, but one of my favorites is that we've become avid campers! I camped regularly as a child. My husband did not. When he brought up the idea of buying a camper in 2014, I thought he was delusional. As did all of our family and friends. It turns out that he's not against camping as long as he has air conditioning for sleeping. My husband is very pragmatic and after much research decided he wanted to buy a Jayco travel trailer.

We traveled to Forrest Marine & RV Center in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts and purchased a 2015 Jayco Jayfeather 23XB. Not only did they not think my husband was crazy, they encouraged and supported our decision to start camping with our 3 young children. Their service is top notch and I highly recommend them to novice and experienced campers.

Our maiden voyage was in May 2014 to Whispering Pines Campground in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. Camping with 1 year old twins and 7 year old boy, in a brand new camper, in the pouring rain had some challenges, but overall we had a great weekend and we were hooked!

Over the past 2 years, we have traveled New England and the Mid-Atlantic states exploring and creating lasting memories. Our 2016 season officially begins this upcoming weekend with our first trip to Brialee RV & Tent Park in Ashford, Connecticut. This April has brought everything from a snow storm to 70 degree weather to New England, so I'm hoping Mother Nature cooperates.

Throughout the season, I will be posting tips for camping with kids, campground reviews and more. We have many camping trips booked for this year and will be adding more. This is also the first year that we're doing a "Fall Fling" special. We will be spending weekends at my kids' favorite campground,  Sunfox Campground in Lisbon, Connecticut, from Labor Day through Halloween. 

Follow our adventures here and on Instagram

Happy Travels,
Last year at Lake Compounce's Bear Creek Campground in Bristol, CT

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Parents' Guide to Gaspee Days

If you're local to Rhode Island or visiting the state anytime between now and early June, be sure to read my Parents' Guide to Gaspee Days on Kidoinfo. The Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival kicks off the season this weekend!