Camping is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors. But, camping with kids can sound scary to some people. The packing and preparing for so many unknown factors can seem daunting.
If you’ve never been camping yourself, it can be even more nerve wrecking to plan a camping trip with kids in tow. But, with some careful planning and a good attitude, you can have a great time!
My husband comes from a camping family. They have been camping all over and he loved it. But I never got to experience that with my family growing up. We never went all together, but I have been camping many times in my life. Starting out with The Girl Scouts when I was younger. Then I went for a week at our annual “6th Grade Camp.”
Through the years came camp outs with friends, boyfriends, and then with my husband. We camped a few times together before the kids came along, and we were actually camping the week that I found out I was pregnant with Claire! I’ve camped in tents, cabins, RVs, and just plain old sleeping bags outside. I’ve camped in all different climates and locations, and we even bring our dog. So, I thought, how hard could it be to just add a kid to the mix?
When Claire was just 4 months old, she joined us on the family’s annual 4th of July camping trip at New Brighton State Beach. At first, I was a little worried about the chilly nights, lack of the comforts of home that new Moms rely on, and how I would occupy this little person without all the fancy baby gear. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea.
At the time, we were lucky enough to own an RV. It wasn’t new or fancy, but it was luxury camping compared to a tent and it made me feel a bit better for our first time with a little baby. We set up her play pen as a bed in the spot where the dining table would be, packed some warm jammies and clothes we could layer, and a few other things, and we were off on our adventure. She has been camping five times now and she’s only 3 years old. She does great and it isn’t scary at all. Promise!
More recently, we took Joey for his first camping trip. This time we slept in our big tent, it’s kind of a family relic. An old canvas tent that my hubby and his family used to camp in when he was young. So, it’s really neat to have our family camp in the same tent now. And, on the plus side, it is huge! We had 2 queen sized air beds and still had tons of room.
We aren’t co-sleepers at home, but decided it was best for this particular trip since it gets so cold at night where we were. At night, we had all four of us and our dog, our travel potty for Claire, a cooler for Joey’s milk, and all our other stuff in the tent. It was our little house for the week.
When it came time to pack up camp and go back home, Claire was so sad. She cuddled her cousins and cried, “I don’t want to go home! I wanna go campin’ some more!” It was really sad to see. Ever since we got home, she has been pretend camping, asking to sleep “in da tent” all the time, and even made up a song called “I love camping.” Joey is only a year old, but he did great and seemed to really take to camping too. We can’t wait to take them both again!
The best advice I can give is to pack more clothes than you think you will need and forget about the toys. They didn’t even care that we had brought them. There was so many other things to look at and play with. Both kids really enjoyed themselves no matter what was going on. We did have a visit to the aquarium nearby, but other than that we just enjoyed the campgrounds and the beach.
I grew up camping. From before I can remember until I was pregnant with Evie, we went camping two to three times per summer and sometimes random sporadic camping in spring and fall. We’ve camped a few different ways. We’ve always tent camped but the ranges of the campgrounds have gone from luxury KOA to out in the middle of a lake where you can only get there by boat, all over the spectrum!
Because of the way I was raised, I always assumed my kids would be campers too. My daughter will be 3 in September and she has still not gone camping (aside from the tents we make in the living room) and it really makes me sad! Some of my absolute favorite family memories are in our big canvas green tent with my parents and my sisters! So this coming September we’ll be going camping with my whole family.
I’m not really nervous about it because my whole family will be there to help and with my kids being a little older, I don’t have to worry too much about bringing anything special (not even toys really... what kid doesn’t prefer dirt and sticks?? Well, at least my kids prefer dirt and sticks). Part of me thinks I should be a LITTLE nervous being that my kids are crazy, but sometimes ignorance is bliss!
Since we grew up camping, our collection of camping accessories has grown! We have the camp kitchen and stove, we have all the lanterns and flashlights, we have sleeping bags and air mattresses. We don’t exactly rough it. But the stuff I’m most excited about are the little things I can buy my kids to make the trip a little more exciting for them! We bought Evie her own flashlight and sleeping bag. We also got her a magnifying glass so she can look for bugs and she already has her binoculars to check out any far away nature.
We also need to upgrade our tent, which makes me a bit nostalgic. My husband and I went camping many times with our dogs in the three-man tent we currently have. We have a lot of memories in that tent and we went to a lot of fun places in it. But now our family has grown, so we’ll be buying the behemoth family tent to fit all of us, and I really am so excited! I’m really excited to make memories in our own tent with our family and I only hope I can give Evie and Milo the memories I have from camping. I can’t wait for September to roll around!
Camping with kids isn’t as scary as it may sound to some parents. It just takes a little extra planning and a positive attitude, much like everything else in life with kids!
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Call For Comments:
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