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Our First Family Camping Trip….Sort Of

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Yesterday we packed up sleeping bags, a tent, and other gear to go on our first family camping trip with Clark’s Cub Scout pack. It’s a big annual camping trip at Camp Winnebago (where my brother camped many times as a Boy Scout) about an hour north of here.  We didn’t go last year and for the spring camping trip just Paul and Clark went, but this time all four of us would be going and spending the night.  I was pretty excited because I loved camping as a Girl Scout and would love it if our family went camping together. We were prepared for it to get pretty cold at night, we were prepared for it to rain, but we weren’t prepared for….bears!
Our Unwelcome Visitors: mother bear and three cubs
We arrived Saturday around noon and an hour later we were at the campsite with the rest of our pack, the kids were all eating lunch around tables and the tents, our tent was set up, and it was a lovely spot in the woods.  All of a sudden, “bear!” A mother black bear and her three cubs following behind were clearly walking through the woods towards our site.  Now, I have three big fears: snakes, sharks, and bears.  I realize that snakes are probably the most likely of those three for me to ever encounter, but bears and sharks are pretty terrifying. I mean, a grizzly bear is basically a great white shark on land-you can’t run away from it, can’t climb a tree away, can’t swim away-you’re basically just dead. But these were black bears, who just want our food and not to attack us.  I was initially scared, but then was not.  It was very clear that the bears were not going to attack us (we all sensibly moved away).  Most of the adults took all the kids out of the woods to the road that runs through the camp, while a few folks stayed behind to make noise to scare them off. However, these bears knew what they wanted and marched into our pavilion and gobbled up our breakfast bagels and muffins.
Our Unwelcome Visitors: mother bear and three cubs
These pictures aren’t that great because I foolishly didn’t bring my zoom lens. Everyone else’s iPhone pictures were better! Though if I do zoom in I can see them pretty well. Eventually some noisy reinforcements frightened them, causing two of the babies to climb up a tree! Paul, who was still there, said it was adorable.  And, wild animals they may be, but good grief they are cute and totally look like stuffed animals.  They did eventually move on.  However, over the course of the rest of the afternoon they returned to our site four more times.  It was determined that we should not remain at that site and after dinner (in another location) we all headed home.  Tabby was most disappointed to not have a campfire and sleep in the tent, but that’s ok.  We still had a great afternoon, got a good story out of it, and got to see the bears, which was really neat.  In the meantime Clark and his friends got to try out bb guns:
Contemplating the shot
Clark learns archery

Bobber in Lily Pads (Fishing was difficult!)

It was a good day and I’m sure we’ll never forget the time we had the bears at our campsite!
Father & Son Campers

About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

2 responses »

  1. Margaret Simpson

    Heres the deal about bears which I happen to know because of all the crazy hiking trips U. Jim and I went to every damn place there were bears. We didn’t go because there were bears but they happened to be there also. Any type of bear will attack you if they are surprised and feel they are blocked from getting away or if you get between them and their cubs. If there is enough room they will always choose to run away, even a grizzly. The exception are nuisance bears which these clearly were. They have become so acclimated to getting food (or actually being fed) that they are a real danger. They either have to be trapped and taken away or more likely killed. Too bad this is happening more and more in NJ.

    • Well we all knew not to get between her and her cubs (or them and there food.) It was troubling how much they simply didn’t care that we were there, even when we made a LOT of noise. Last night I dreamed that a polar bear was swimming where people were and I was sure it was going to attack the swimmers. Gee, I wonder where that came from!


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