By now you’re probably aware of this, but I recently took my wife, two young daughters, and my parents on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. All of us had a blast, but our experience would’ve been much different if it wasn’t for Camp Carnival (more on that in a minute).
As you also probably know, my daughters are four and two years old and they are the center of my universe. I love them with every fiber of my being and my whole mission in life is dedicated to ensuring they have the best lives possible.
Consider that paragraph, my “parenting disclaimer.”
I spent a TON of time with my kids during the cruise, but sometimes I needed a break from toddler tantrums and diaper changes to keep my sanity intact. Enter Camp Carnival. It’s a place where kids can enjoy arts, crafts, games, singing, and a ton of fun with experienced counselors.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at first when I left my girls there for a couple of hours, but they had such an amazing time that they were excited to go back again the following day.
So what did they do?
One day they had a dance party, another day it was a pirate-themed party, another day they had a rubber dart contest – but the common denominator was always fun. And as any parent knows, the best endorsement kids can give to something is when they want more of it.
The reality is that taking part in the excursions/activities that my wife, my parents, and I enjoyed would be impossible without proper childcare. No matter how you slice it, ziplining with a two-year old and a four-year old probably wouldn’t be the best idea. To have the peace of mind that my kids were safe and having fun made me feel completely relieved and way less guilty while we enjoyed some adult fun.
Speaking of adult fun, what did we do when the kids were playing at Camp Carnival?
We took a mixology course. Beforehand, the only drink I could “make” was pouring a beer into a glass. Now I can make the meanest, dirtiest martini in the world. Okay, not exactly – but I’m much better at making mixed drinks than I was prior to entering the ship.
I convinced my mom to go ziplining with me in St. Kitts. Like I said in a previous post, my mom’s idea of “scary” is overcooking a pasta casserole. To see the look on her face during that experience is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. When we talked on the phone last week, she asked, “When is our next cruise?? I want to do that zipline thing again.” All of a sudden the woman who gave birth to me is now a card-carrying member of the daredevil club.
Then my wife and I went on a Segway tour in Grand Turk. Call me crazy, but I’ve always wanted to ride on one of those things, and to be able to do it in such a beautiful location was priceless.
During the Segway tour in Grand Turk, there was a horse happily walking on the beach by itself and I snapped this photo. Talk about something that should be on a postcard, right? Good thing my girls weren’t with me or else they would’ve insisted we brought it home as a pet.
And last but not least, I led a band singing Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl” in front of over 100 strangers, and it wasn’t pretty. But hey, at least I had fun. I can’t speak for the folks who had to listen to me, though.
The best part of all of this was coming back to my kids who were so excited to tell me about all of the fun things they did while I was away. They had such a blast that on the flight home, my daughter said, “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow! I want to go to Camp Carnival!” That pretty much tells the story.
I know that I’m a fatherhood author, activist, and public speaker – but everyone needs a break from the parenting routine to enjoy some grown up fun with loved ones. Doing so helps recharge my batteries to make me an even better dad to my two daughters – and for this particular vacation, I owe a huge thanks to Camp Carnival for making that happen.
And if recharging those batteries means rocking out to 80’s music, then so be it.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.