Thursday, July 15, 2010

Camping with Children

My family LOVES to camp, and so does my husband's. Each year we camp several times at least. This year we've already done it twice and will be again this weekend. But camping with little ones isn't always easy. It can be a lot of fun, but you have to be prepared! So here are some tips for making camping trips with little ones a bit easier.

  • Before you camp buy some clothes at the DI or another thirft store. This will ease your mind as your child gets completely fithly!
  • For simplicity bring your baby or toddler's booster seat to eat in around the campfire. Also, if you have a baby or child under two it's a good idea to bring their pack 'n play and just set it up in the tent for naps and bedtime (you'll need to make sure you have a big tent, at least a 4 man, we use a 6).
  • Even if the weather will be hot plan on packing extra pants and shoes instead of a lot of shorts and sandals. It's easier on little legs and feet to be protected.
  • If your kids have a hard time sleeping in a tent then try a few things. Some kids are used to a night light and therefore camping is scary. Hang a headlamp or other flashlight from the top of your tent to give off light like a night light (you might waste batteries, but you'll get more sleep). Also, make sure your child is WARM. My son who is less than 2 won't stay under the covers so we put two pairs of pajamas on him and a jacket with a hood.
  • If you have a little girl - choose a hairstyle that will stay in tight and won't get in her way, something that you can easily fix the next day too.
  • If you have a child under the age of two, bring a kid carrier so you can hike easier with your little one.
  • If you have a baby, bring an old exersaucer (again, check the DI) that you won't mind getting dirty and let your baby hang out in that when you need a break. You can also bring BIG pieces of carpet to let your baby crawl around on if you don't want him/her in the rocks and dirt.
  • If it's your first time camping with your children, don't plan a big trip for your first one. Only camp one night and then if you like it, try it out for more nights.
  • Most of all - just have fun and realize that it might be a bit dirty and difficult, but you can make some great memories.

Now let's hear from you! What are some tips you have?? I'd love to hear your success stories and things that have worked for you while camping.


Jared and Delia said...

This was REALLY helpful. I am really hesitant to camp with my kids when they are under 2 or 3 but these tips help me feel a bit more at ease about the idea. Thanks!

Heather said...

We love to camp with our kids. I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 14 month old. We've been camping with the kids since my oldest was 6 months old. The first few campouts when they are just babies are so nice to do close to home. We live near mountains and canyons, so we can camp within 30 minutes of our home if we choose. It's nice to do a trial run close enough that if you absolutely hate it, you can leave your stuff in the night and just go home to the beds to sleep, then come back and get your gear in the morning. Also, pack winter hats to put on the kiddos for the night. It makes an amazing difference on whether they stay warm since we lose so much heat through the tops of our heads. My kids won't go to sleep with them on, but I'll stick them on their heads after they've fallen asleep.

I also sleep with my youngest kids'(I'm talking babies, here) change of clothes, a diaper, and the portable wipes pack in my sleeping bag. I know it sounds silly, but it's easier to get them dressed with warm clothes and who wants an icy wet-wipe on their bum on a cold morning? Little gloves are nice for the kids for first thing in the morning, too.

I agree with Tannie that pants are essential for crawlers and young walkers. They get so dirty anyway, but they always seem to spend more time on the ground among the dirt and rocks than you would imagine possible.

We also pack special treats that we don't usually get--capri suns for the kids to drink instead of just water, frozen fun-size Kit-Kat bars to use as rewards for finishing a warm hike, and some other fun snack.

Keep dinners simple. I've made homemade rice-a-roni from an online blog ahead of time and then just warmed it up with a little water. We do tinfoil dinners, but have all the stuff prepared ahead of time (including parboiling the carrots and potatoes so they are done at the same time as the meat. That helps you avoid undercooked veggies and burnt meat) so it's just a matter of throwing it together and putting it in the fire. If you like Hamburger Helper, they make simple camping meals. We also like to take stew and warm it up. The key--try to do the preparation at home and minimize your cooking time at the campsite.

It's so much fun, but a bit of work. Once you have all the gear, it makes for cheap vacations in beautiful areas. Don't stop after your first try--it takes a while to get it down!

Anonymous said...

Plan for transitions. It will take time to set up and take down camp, and your children will want to help (and get in the way), or they will see it as an opportunity to escape (the little con artists!). It's helpful to have an established activity for small children to do while you are working on other things. Of course older children who can help should, but younger children need something to keep them busy during the transition times. If it's cool and your car came with a DVD player, maybe that would be a great time for a movie. Or they sell these non-spillable bubble buckets at Walmart for a few bucks. Toddlers can stick their wand in and blow bubbles all by themselves without spilling the bubbles. I'm sure others have ideas for these somewhat difficult times. But if you have a plan, then you won't get caught unaware and get stressed out right at the beginning or end of your trip!

Megan said...

We just got home from camping and we had a blast, but it is quite different with little kids! Make sure little people understand about staying away from the fire; we had issues with my son wanting to "help" put wood in the fire. Also, make sure you have something that they can do! It seemed like we were always telling Lucas no until we found a couple of things that he could do.