I didn’t really go camping as a kid. It just wasn’t something my family did. I started camping in high school and in college, and have gone a handful of times since then. I enjoy it, as long as the trips are brief and showers are nearby.
While I’m intrigued about really roughing it, I’m also OK with mixing in an easy camping outing every summer or two, and the time was finally right to introduce our daughter to the concept of enjoying the great outdoors.
This weekend, we took our almost 5-year-old to the Bong Rec Area, near Burlington, and it proved to be a perfect introduction to camping. Cheap, easy and close-to-home, one night was all it took to get her hooked.
I liked this campground for a few reasons, hilarious name aside. From Milwaukee, it was an easy drive, too, maybe 45 minutes. Head south to Mars Cheese Castle and turn right. Keep going until you get there.
We didn’t book in advance, and there were plenty of sites available at 2 p.m. With a one-day park pass, the site only cost $19, and it was woodsy enough, although not like Peninsula State Park, for example.
The rangers put us close to the bathroom and the communal bubbler, which was great from a convenience perspective, but less great from a privacy standpoint. Still, the site was nice and spacious, and allowed us plenty of room to spread out.
As for the camping part, we did the standard stuff: roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a camp fire. Our kid loved playing in the tent and taking the dog and her "walking stick" on a few easy hikes. It was low-key, and as usual, every camper we encountered was friendly and happy to be there. The sounds of the crickets lulled her to sleep by nightfall.
I know there are better campgrounds not far from Milwaukee, but in terms of ease and value, I’m pleased with this rookie stay at the Bong Rec Area. Next year, we’ll rough it a little more, but for an introductory family camping trip, this fit the bill nicely.
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