Back in the B.C. (before child) era, Jon and I used to go camping periodically -- both hard core overnight backpacking and laid back car camping. Since then, our gear has sat unused the past six years, moved only during the two times we changed residence since Laurel was born. And while Laurel now is at an age where I think she'll love car camping, last week I found the tent to be a brilliant solution to get Laurel and her friend Annabelle to Be Out There.
Now, I admit to being the total girl in Jon and my relationship; during our previous camping adventures I favored collecting kindling and organizing the provisions over setting up camp. I pulled out our compact backpacking tent and was completely stumped. So I moved on to our giant Academy Broadway two-room tent (similar in concept to this Academy Broadway three room tent except ours has the main tent then a little side "porch" screened tent), found the two long cross poles, and yes, managed to pitch a tent for the first time. I was so proud. And I broke a sweat while I was doing it too. (Note: I didn't tell the girls about, or set up, the second room of the tent. That's an adventure for another day.)
Laurel and Annabelle went CRAZY. And proceeded to spend two hours in the backyard, running in and out of and around the tent. They loaded the tent up with furniture (Laurel's picnic table and some foldable chairs), gathered snacks and books, and engaged in all sorts of creative play around the tent. Somehow, bringing inside outside made everything way more fun.
So if you're like us and have a camping tent that's long gone neglected, give it new life as a kid's play structure outside. Or if you think you might be interested in camping with your family, consider investing in a tent. The Academy Broadway tent we own is no longer available online, but I was impressed to see on Amazon that you can get the same brand in two person, three person, and four person sizes for very reasonable prices (ranging from $24 - $53). The big three room tent is currently on sale for $135.
Happy camping everyone!