Camping with Kids: 5 Things You Need to Know

There’s camping, and then there’s camping with kids.

Every day is unique. Wait, forget every day, every minute is unique. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little planning ahead of time, and the willingness to let go of perfectionism—I know, it can be tough– you and your family can have a great camping experience.

First things first, think about what you want to experience–Rustic Camping, RV Camping, Tent Camping?  Do you have experience camping already? If so, what did you do that you enjoyed, that you didn’t enjoy? I grew up camping, my husband did not. When we were ready to venture out on our first family camping trip, I was the one who decided what and where to go.

  1. Know your kiddos and listen to your parental instincts

Our first camping trip was–let me put this nicely–a disaster. It was hot, it was buggy, there was hardly anything for the kiddos to do, and I was crabby. I thought it would be great, I researched and researched. There was hiking, and waterfalls, I figured it would be plenty to keep us busy.

  1. Kiddos–and Parents–need variety

We are a water family, we love swimming. That was my first mistake—there was no water to swim in. Growing up, I remember we always went swimming where we camped; it’s what I remember most fondly. So when it came time to choose our first camping location, I listened to the hubs—who had never been camping—he didn’t think it was that big of a deal that there weren’t any swimming areas around, so I went along with it.

Not only was there nowhere to swim, there were no playgrounds, the hiking paths and waterfalls were far enough away that we had to drive to get there, and there wasn’t much else at the campground. No. Variety. At. All.

Make sure there is plenty to do.

  1. Bring more food than you might need

I know some people might cringe at this, but kiddos need to nosh. When you are at home, they know where everything is, and you have your routines. So whether or not you give them snacks or they find snacks for themselves, all bets are off when camping. That’s why I bring a variety of foods. No doubt if you are reading this you will do most of the packing, I’m just calling it like it is. You know where the important things are, like food. Your kiddos don’t. So brings snacks.

Some people like to make up separate personal size bags of snacks so they are grab-n-go, but I cannot add anything else to my prep. Besides, what happens when you go to all that trouble ahead of time, and then none of those snacks get eaten? Instead of doing this ahead of time, I just bring snack-size baggies. That way, the kiddos get to choose what they want to bring when you go on a hike, to the beach, or are just lounging at the site.

I like to make foil dinners, because then we all get to eat at the same time and it is easy peasy. I also like to bring fun desserts. Anything marshmallow related is a good thing in our book!

  1. Bring games and fun things to do

There has got to be downtime, naps a plenty for Momma and Daddy and quiet time for the kiddos. So I make sure to bring things to do. Some of the favorites for the kiddos are;

  • New hardcover notebook with colored pencils
    • I always loved keeping a journal. While they may not use their journals in the traditional sense, it is fascinating to see how they do use it-I always make sure they keep them so I can look back at what they did.
  • Pipe cleaners
    • See their imagination at work-I never imagined how long a bag of pipe cleaners would keep them busy.
  • Pens or markers or crayons
    • For when they just want to draw
  • Games
    • We love playing cards so we always bring a deck of cards, there are so many games you can play with just one deck.
    • I Spy games are great too.

What is your family favorite?

  1. Plan it out, but don’t be too rigid

So you want to go camping. There are some things you will need to do to make it work. Over the years I have tried many different kinds of lists– for food, fun, and supplies. Some have worked better than others and they continually evolve. Think about what you want to eat, supplies you might need, and what type of camping you are doing. Will you need to bring bathroom supplies for rustic camping, or shower supplies for campground camping?

Remember that no matter how much you plan, you will forget something–that’s okay. You will survive.  But by at least trying to follow your list, it saves you the insanity from trying to remember everything…just look to the list!

While not part of the list, my last piece of advice is to have fun! 

Most of you won’t regret getting out there in nature. It sparks conversations, memories and brings us closer together.

Get out there and have fun Momma and Daddy Bears!

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