I have to admit, our first attempt to go camping was a complete disaster. Our daughter was only 18 months old, and we weren't really prepared. I think it was kind of a last minute thing, hey lets go camping tomorrow.
Our first mistake was to pick a walk in site. Not that there is anything wrong with a walk in site or with the WIS at Silent Lake, but we hadn't exactly prepared for that kind of trip. We'd tossed everything into the trunk of the car, I don't think we even had a backpack at the time. This meant hauling everything to the site in multiple trips...in June. The flies were horrible! Insane even, and because our daughter was at the stage where she wanted to walk rather than be carried, each trip in, for me at least, took four times as long thanks to her little legs.
For people with kids this young, choosing a site is more complicated than for people with older children. Not only do you want a site that's nice, fairly private and within reasonable walking distance to the bathrooms, but you need a site that isn't full of things for your toddler to trip on...or cliffs for them to fall off. Our site was right on the lake, which was nice, but it was rocky and if I'd let her walk on her own anywhere, she'd have been in trouble. This meant Chris had to set up the tent alone. It should be noted that Chris was a pretty experienced camper. His grandfather took him and his brother camping a lot when they were kids, but almost all of those trips were with a pop-up camper, so he didn't have a lot of experience putting up a tent. With the added annoyance of swarms of mosquitoes, it seemed to take forever.
Once the tent was up, we pretty much crawled in and hid from the bugs. Chris cooked (brave man) I think we had spaghetti and then tried his hand at fishing but the bugs were just too bad. When we got up, Bridie was fussy and only banging on pots and pans would keep her from crying. As we didn't want to piss off the other campers nearby, we ended up packing up and leaving. Bridie also had one eye swollen shut thanks to a mosquito who had bitten right on the corner of her eye.
Looking back, there were so many things we could have done to make the trip enjoyable. Picking a more appropriate site, taking bug repellant (God, what was I thinking?) and taking along toys designed for quiet play would have been a good start. But it was my first real camping trip since i was a kid (not counting pitching a tent in the back yard) and I learned a lot. We learned to take more time planning, and to come up with a list for packing (thus preventing the 40 minute drive to buy a can opener in the nearest town, only to find only one store open. The only can opener they had fell apart halfway through opening one can.) Every camping trip should be a learning experience though. I hope I never get to the point where it becomes humdrum and boring.