Thursday, July 05, 2012

When sickness enters the camp

Last weekend we headed to the mountains for another camping trip, third week in a row and on a roll!  The packing was easy, we almost had it down to an art, and we were all in good spirits.  That is, until the Friday night puke fest began.

Our sick camper

Our three year old decided to bathe our tent in vomit three times Friday night.  Blankets, pillows, pajamas - covered!  We got through the night as best we could by putting on new pjs (thank God we brought a couple pairs), tossing out anything that was truly beyond cleaning with wet wipes, and creating new pillows out of jackets and sweaters.  We brought a dish basin and garbage bags into the tent for the night and got used to jumping at the first cough.  Needless to say nobody got a lot of sleep. 

Saturday morning saw one more episode with vomit and two bouts of diarrhea (fortunately all outside the tent).  It was at this point that I seriously started to wonder if we'd have enough spare clothes for a long weekend.  In one morning, we'd already gone through two pairs of pants and were on to the third, and last, pair.  I tend to over-pack on clothing for my child but this was stretching it a bit.

It's at this point, where most families would pack up and go home.  Am I wrong?  We hesitated though because we hadn't visited Waterton National Park since before Noah was born.  We were excited about this trip and really wanted to stay.  Our son was also in remarkably good spirits.  We have seriously never seen him so well behaved, happy, and content when camping.  He wanted to hang out in the hammock for hours on end and even fared well on a small hike we did.  We also had no more issues from about 10:00am on.  It seemed like it had passed.

Does this look like a sick kid?

We had a fabulous day hiking, riding our bikes, touring the town of Waterton, and playing at the campsite.  You never would have known that Noah was sick.  We took precautions of course - My husband was not about to carry him in a child carrier where he could potentially end up with vomit in his hair.  We kept it simple with Chariot-friendly activities such as biking and walking, and packed spare clothes everywhere we went.

Riding around town

Saturday night however - more vomit.  And again, in the tent.  We were shocked.  We honestly thought it had passed.  We tossed out yet another blanket (we bring lots!) and had to bundle Noah in a fleece bunting suit since he had no more pajamas.  Thank goodness I had thought to pack that suit. We also pulled out the emergency blanket we carry in the truck.  Yay for being prepared!  I always pack an entire duffel bag full of warm coats, rain gear, winter clothing, hats, etc. - just in case.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully and Sunday was blissful.  We did more touring, went for another family hike, and again thanked our lucky stars that Noah showed no signs of being sick.  He wasn't hungry but that just made the camping even easier.  He was content to spend dinner time lounging in the hammock with some crackers.

Exploring Red Rock Canyon - and again, he looks pretty cheerful.

Sunday night we thought we might get a reprieve. At least we sure hoped we would as we were seriously running low on extra blankets and warm clothing.  It wasn't the case though as we arrived for bed to find the tent pee-soaked from a pull-up that had overflowed.  Puke, poo, and now pee!  We'd need serious garbage bags to get everything back to the city in!  Noah spent the night in fleece pants and his winter jacket, my husband had to put clothing down on top of his wet thermarest mattress, and we had to borrow pink princess pull-ups from our friends since we were now out, having anticipated one pull-up per night. 

Packing up the tent Monday morning I noticed all the vomit stains on everything and the wet patches that hadn't dried yet.  I can't believe we managed to sleep in this tent for three nights.  We get an award for that, right?

We brought garbage bags and pillow cases home filled with clothes and blankets I really just wanted to burn.  By Wednesday, everything was clean, dry, and restored to its pre-camping smell - ready for the next trip! 

A few things we learned from this trip:
  • Always bring more pull-ups, diapers, or pairs of underwear for the kids than you think you'll need. 
  • Always bring a pair of pajamas per night of your trip for the kids.
  • Bring a spare sleeping bag and at least a couple spare blankets with you on trips longer than a night.
  • Pack lots of spare clothing for the kids in the event they get sick or just decide to play in the mud.
  • Bring garbage bags to transport dirty laundry home.  
  • I don't like doing laundry at camp but it wouldn't hurt to bring some soap along, a rope to hang wet clothes, and a dozen clothes pins.
  • If you have a spare thermarest or even just foam mattress, bring it.
  • Spare pillow cases would have been nice this trip.
Kids get sick without warning, they have accidents in their sleep - even after they've been potty trained, they play in the mud and get dirty, they fall down, they get wet.  We will be over-packing for years to come.  This time, it saved the weekend.  

Why we toughed it out.

Have you gone camping and had a child get sick?  How did you deal with it?


  1. This actually sounds awful but good for you for sticking it out.

    When I was 16 I had chicken pox, and once over the infectious period, went camping with my parents. I didn't feel awesome, but in the back woods I looked like a regular ol' mossie bitten lass.

    I can't believe neither of you got ill after sleeping in all that yuck?

    1. Nope, we are both healthy so far. I'm surprised too.

  2. Impressive perseverance! Glad Noah is feeling better :)

  3. I'm an over packer, as well. Especially, for J-Man. You just never know. Glad you stuck it out and had a good time.

    1. I'm glad Noah didn't show other signs of being ill - other than that he was less fussy than normal. Not enough energy to complain and whine I guess.

  4. I think the smell of vomit would have made it pretty close to impossible for me to sleep in that tent. Sounds like your little one is a real trooper! What was the cause? Just a stomach virus?

    1. The smell actually wasn't that bad other than for the first couple of minutes. If it were, we wouldn't have lasted I'm sure.
      We don't know what the cause was. But both my husband and I never caught it.

  5. Oh, oh, oh what a trip! Kudos for sticking it out. We've certainly been through injuries on a trip, but very little sickness and NOTHING like that. And yes, you get an award!

  6. When you have a sick kid you should take him home and take care of him rather than selfishly going about your weekend doing what you want to do.

    1. Maybe you should stop reading my blog if you don't like what I have to say or think I'm a selfish parent. Obviously you won't find much inspiration from me. You'll have to find better role models to follow I guess.

    2. Geesh! It was a minor stomach bug not a rattlesnake bite or leprosy. I think "Anonymous" totally missed the point of the post.

      I pack way too light. It's always a good reminder to be prepared for the unexpected. And reading about your adventures in the Canadian Rockies is making me think that we need to plan a trip to Canada...

    3. Thanks Rebecca. Let me know should you decide to plan that trip and I'll help in any way I can. We'd love to see you visit.

  7. Oh, what a weekend! I am glad to hear Noah is better. It's awesome that you still managed to enjoy your weekend and stayed active during the day. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, I will have to rethink my camping checklist. I have always been an over-packer, but wanted to work on becoming more minimalistic as third of our camping clothes usually does not get used and it feels we were hauling it for no need. May be I should not rethink it and keep overpacking.

    1. Thanks Ksenia. I agree that we always bring back so many unused clothing and I think I should have packed lighter. Sometimes over-packing though has advantages.

  8. Thanks for share and nice blog.