The youth group that my boys belong to put together an overnight trip to a campground in Hunterdon County and I wanted to introduce my kids to camping so I thought this would be the perfect 'beginner's adventure'.

Christopher and Benjamin were hesitant to give up things like their cell phones, dsi's, and soccer games in exchange for the trip...but I wanted them to gain a new perspective and I thought it would be easier to start off in a group setting and a cabin, rather than just me trying to set up a tent in the woods, which would have been a recipe for disaster.

So for a 24-hour trip I packed tons of snacks, subs, water bottles, sleeping bags and pillows, lots of bug spray, the soccer ball and sax (Benj won't go anywhere without it and did play it out in the field in the afternoon for all to hear), games, books, flashlights, and sunscreen. We loaded up for the hour-and-a-half drive, followed two other vans full of friends, and headed northwest.

There were 17 campers in all, and from the moment we got to the cabin they were off and running. They had the time of their lives choosing their bunks, unpacking, watching a movie, playing games, staying up 'til almost 2 am with their flashlights passing notes between the boys' and girls' rooms....then getting up at the crack of dawn to have a soccer match outside, eat chocolate pancakes for breakfast, take a hike, have a water fight, eat hot dogs and mac & cheese for lunch, and go on a scavenger hunt among other things.

This group of boys and girls really had a chance to bond and make some good memories.

I have rarely been so grateful for one 24 hour period in the life of my boys and I am so glad that, despite the humidity and bugs, the smell of bug spray, and the muddy shoes, I got through it alive and well, even though I am usually a luxury hotel kind of mom!

I highly recommend an adventure like this for you and your kids.

(If you live in the Manasquan area and have children fourth grade and up, I'd be happy to tell you more about our youth group....just send me your contact info below!)