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Monday, July 02, 2012

Picturing Pierre, SD: Camping at Farm Island Recreation Center

Picturing Pierre, take two

This weekend we chose to go camping with the kids at Farm Island Recreation Area (a SD State Park). Farm Island is just outside Pierre, about a ten minute drive from our house.  There is a fairly large campground at Farm Island and our site was near the entrance end of the main campground. We were just across the road from the swim beach, which stretches the length of the entire campground (if you were on the other side of the loop you'd have to circle around some trees to see the water, it could be a hike with little kids.)  The beach is fairly shallow and very easy for little kids to enjoy, even ones that aren't terrific swimmers. They can play quite a bit without accidently getting in deep and even the Princess could be trusted at the water's edge without my having to be right with her. As you can see in the picture with the Princess, the water flows to the right, which pushes them into the end of a little cove, not out to open water. I was able to sit on the beach and just let them play. It's not super sandy once you get in the water, but it's not overly rocky either. There is a good bit of squishy mud in the water, but the kids don't seem to mind. Farm Island has full comfort stations with showers and electricity, as well as scattered vault toliets (nice clean ones, with motion sensative lights). All sites have electricity hookups, picnic tables, and fire pits.  You can rent bikes, paddleboat, and fishing poles. Last year during the flood the campground was completely under about 3 feet of water, so we were worried if there would be a beach or any grass, but I am happy to report that it seems completely recovered.
Swim beach at farm island recreation center

Farm island recreation center swim beach

I ended up taking the kids up around one, before Mike got off work, which meant I had to park the camper all by myself. Granted, we only have a small popup, but I've never backed it up by myself. I've taken it alone to pull through camp sites, but the ones at Farm Island are not pull through slots. Amazingly, I was able to back it in myself, and promptly took pictures and texted them to half the people on my phone. It was nice and straight and everything!   By the time Mike got off at 5 and stopped by the house for hamburgers, I had the camper set up and ready to go.  Our particular site didn't have a lot of shade, just one tree near the road, but we set everything up and it turned out fine.

Farm island camping

We planned it at the last minute and I didn't take time to really think about packing, I just threw everything in a bag and ran out the door. We keep a few things in the camper anyway- the bedding, bug spray, paper plates, some toys- so it was just a matter of food, clothes and swim gear. Plus we were ten minutes from home if we needed to fun back.  Mike stopped at the house and got the dog and some burgers and chips and met us out there. We made dinner and swam a bit, then had a campfire (OMG BOYS AND FIRE! So cliche, so true.) and then tried to get everyone settled around 10.  (By the way, the next picture was taken around 9:30 pm. It's not dark at ALL.) Mike and I were exhausted and the Pirate was willing to sleep, but the other two were just insane. We finally gave up around 10:45 and came home to sleep in our own beds.

Boys and fire

The next morning we went out to break the camper down and took turns letting the kids swim while the other parent took it down. I am incredibly proud of myself for being able to do it all start to finish now. If I were completely INSANE I could go camping without another adult.

One last cool thing, when we were swimming at dusk we happened to notice turtles sunning themselves a short way down the beach. We tried to sneak up on them, but of course turtles aren't stupid, and they swam away before we got a good look. We both noticed that they weren't the more common hardshell turtles, and after googling have decided that they were Spiny Softshell turtles as seen at that link.


  1. Love this!!! You're lucky to have so many places around you to camp and of course the weather to do so (even if the slice of time is shorter for you--we're just too damn hot right now).

    And kudos on doing everything on your own! This would be one of those things that I would always be too scared to do on my own...but if forced to would realize I COULD if push came to shove. Now that we're done with the toys (or ahem Scott is done), I'm hoping in a few years we can get a camper.

    I cannot believe how big bug looks. Princess too. I guess I shouldn't mention the "two" word, huh?

  2. You are a brave woman! We have lots of turtles in the ponds in our neighborhood. They'll be sunning on the banks and will all jump in the water if you even think of walking near them.

  3. This looks like fun! There's a camp area not too far from my mom's house, and I'm tempted to take G out there and let him run around until he falls over asleep (in a tent or his own bed).

  4. That's quite a feat. I can do lots of things on my own, but setting a camp is not one of them. I probably could if I really tried, but I like to save that stuff for someone else.

    I think it's funny that you ended up back at home though. That is the down side to being only ten minutes away from home.

  5. When I was a kid, we used to take our popup camper all over the country. I remember how hard it was sometimes to back that sucker up so I'm very impressed. Looks like you had a great weekend!


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