We decided to go camping at Hunting Island State Park for the kid’s fall break because I wanted (needed?) to get to the beach again before summer and the warm weather ended. Also, I wanted to try camping as a family since I keep seeing our friends with children go camping and they seem to be having a great time. We have not camped together since being a family of 6 – though going to Tuckaseegee is almost like camping.
Hunting Island State Park is a barrier island in South Carolina – the whole island is a state park and only campers stay there.
We packed up and drove 5 hours to the campground. It rained for the first 4 hours of the drive (and at home it had been raining for 3 days straight), but it cleared up in the last hour of the drive and was sunny and warm when we arrived! We unpacked, set up the tent, and went to the beach, where we hung out for the next few days. We so enjoyed the sun, sand, and warmth – and mostly enjoyed the camping together part, too!
- Biking – We brought all our bikes and that enabled the kids to ride their bikes around the campground while we were cooking, unpacking/packing, or just sitting and relaxing. We all took a long bike ride through a beautiful maritime forest to the island lighthouse. And, we rode our bikes across the beach at low tide to the same lighthouse. Everyone loved the lighthouse. It was a fascinating to the kids especially. We biked to it first thing, then found out you had to pay $2 each to climb up the lighthouse (and no toddlers allowed). So, we came back at low tide later in the afternoon via the beach. Since we didn’t bring the baby seat for my bike, Steven rode with William, riding on his back, holding onto his neck. He fell asleep on the ride over the beach to the lighthouse, but did not fall off. It was a funny site.
- Our camping neighbors (not the ones who brought a dog that barked loudly every 10 minutes until they left with him at 1 a.m. . . . the other ones) – They were kind and generous and met us with smiles and jokes when we pulled in. The first night we were there after Hythe finished supper he asked if he could go “hang out with them”. We said yes and he picked up his camp stool, walked over to the neighbors camp fire and sat down with them, joining their conversation. It was precious. We saw May on the beach the next day at low tide with a pair of kitchen tongs catching blue crabs from around a rock groin. Hythe and I watched her and Hythe started finding crabs for her to catch. When we got back to the camp site, May had cooked the crabs and brought a bunch over to us to eat. Hythe and I enjoyed them thoroughly (no one else did much, though Evva and William did eat a little). May caught crabs the next day as well and Hythe was right there beside her, helping – and we (May, Hythe, and me) feasted on crabs again that night.
- The beach – sun, sand, ocean. It was wonderful. We went to sleep listening to the waves crash just over the small dune from our tent. We could wake early enough to watch the sun rise over that vast ocean. We played, we swam, I read, kids found hermit crabs (lots of tiny ones). There was plenty of splashing and running. The children and I could have stayed all day on the beach. It was bliss.
- Fishing pier – Hunting Island has a small Nature Center (which our children loved) attached to a fishing pier. After looking at all the turtles, terrapins, snakes, and lizards, we borrowed the free fishing tackle from the Center, bought some bait, and went out on the pier. As we set up, an older man next to us said he loved coming there to camp and fish, but also said he had not had a single bite that day. I settled down in a tiny bit of shade to read while the kids and William fished. I was sure that we would stay out in the hot sun for 30 minutes or so until everyone was bored, then go back to the campsite. But, within a few minutes, Anne caught a baby shark. Ten minutes later, Hythe caught a small croaker (I think that’s what it was). Then, Steven had a bite that bent his pole over and scared him (but the fish got off), Then, Hythe caught two more croaker. We released everything, but it was fun and exciting. After an hour or so, the tide turned (literally), we had no more bites and soon everyone was hungry and bored, and we went back to camp.
All in all (and despite the sweltering nights and loud dog which meant I did not sleep well – how everyone else slept through it all, I don’t know), we had a great time. I hope we’ll do it again.