Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tips For Camping With Young Kids

Anyone out there a camper? A tent camper? Biker Boy and I camped quite a bit during the BC era (Before Children). We’ve only averaged tent camping with kids about once a year since their arrival. It’s time to increase that average. Hopefully.

Fresh off a 2-night camping stint, I thought I’d whip up some camping with kiddos tips. These are birthed out of personal experience, without all the pain…..except Biker Boy might tell you differently. (Love ya hon!)

These tips are for those of you tent camping. But by all means….go for plush camping if that’s what you prefer. You might have a whole other bag of tips. Or just stay in a hotel like some people I know! (Love ya mom and dad!)

1) Determine what type of campground you and the kids can handle.
Take into consideration your likes and dislikes and your children’s habits. Do you like it noisy? Are the kids up with the sun? Like playgrounds, pools, and modern conveniences? You might want to check out a private campground. Think KOA. Like a natural setting, but still want running water and people nearby? You might want to check out a state park. Want peace and quiet, without modern conveniences and a high price? You might want to check out a national forest.

2) Research where you’re staying before you go.
Do you need reservations, especially if you’re going on a holiday weekend? Do you need running water and showers? Quarters for the showers? How far apart are the campsites? Is there going to be a tent 10 ft away from yours with a guy snoring in it all night long? What are the quiet hours? Are the kids going to be up all night because of the people partying in the next campsite?

3) Make a list for packing.
Yep. A list. Cause sometimes you forget the important things and remember the not so important things. Sometimes you can compromise. If you forget the kid carrying backpack for hiking you can always throw the kid in a regular backpack if they fit. (Not recommended.) If you forget your pillow, you can always use your coat as a pillow. That is if you remembered to pack your coat. Yep. Fun times.

4) Prepare for minimal sleep.
See tip #2 for more info. Either the kids are bouncing off the wall of the tent (literally) and off the air mattress or the guy in the next tent is snoring. There might be dogs barking and tons of tent zippers zippering. People may be yelling choice words at 9pm in the next campsite. There may be no wind (what?!) and you can hear your tent neighbor “breaking wind” and peeing at 1am. You might have to get up at 2am because a kid wet their sleeping bag and then they have to crawl in your tiny bag with you. *Enter my love of Mountain Dew while camping!*

5) Know your tent.
If you don’t know how to set it up, you might want to try it in the backyard first. You either want a really good tent that the kids can’t wreck or a cheap one that you’re not sad if they do wreck it. Especially if they tend to be like little wild monkeys when you put them in a tent. The definition of “camping” for my children is being in the tent. A tall tent is not a good idea in a windy area. A really tight tent can be difficult to maneuver in at 1am when someone has to go to the bathroom. Prepare for rain. A wet tent is not a fun tent.

6) Prepare for the worst.
See tip #3. Make sure the jumper cables are in the van so the park ranger can jump it when your battery dies because of the cooler plugged in to the accessory jack. Plastic bags and wipes/toilet paper are a good idea to pack because walking is a natural laxative for a child. Yep. Been there, done that. A lot. Places might be closed when you get to them and sometimes you can’t have fires because of fire restrictions. That’s where a small portable stove can come in handy. Band aids, antibiotics, inhaler, pain reliever….you know….pack the usual first aid stuff.

7) Pack toys.
See tip #3. A couple of toys can be pulled out when the natives get restless. Or when you don’t want them wandering too far from the campsite. Bikes are nice too. It’s a great way for kiddos to explore the campsite (with you along). That’s assuming the campground is relatively flat.

8) Explore and have fun.
Isn’t that what camping is about? Get out there and see things. Look at the rocks. Hike. Go over 32 water crossings and get wet. Yep. See a tree clawed by a bear and a mountain lion footprint in mud. Yep. Keep the kids close when hiking. Carry a hiking pole for protection. It’s all good!

9) Drive somewhere.
See tip #4 and #6. The drive may be the only decent sleep the children get. Who cares if when you get to your destination the park ranger tells you that it’s closing in a few minutes?

10) Eat things you normally wouldn’t.
Hot dogs, juice boxes, dehydrated food, smores! It’s all good! Plus dehydrated food is easy to pack and it tastes yummy when you’re really hungry. And smores taste good all the time.

11) Make a Fire.
See tip #10. Just make sure that there are no fire restrictions. We were camping in the land of forest fires, but luckily it had rained the night before so we could have a fire. It’s fun to watch someone light a fire. It’s fun to cook on a fire. Smores are the best. Have a backup plan if you can’t light a fire. See tip #6. Oh, you may need to bring your own wood.  It's probably best if you do, just in case you can't collect it or find anywhere to buy any.

12) Go with the flow.
Be sure to kick back and relax. Don’t let the children drive you nuts. Or the campers next to you. Just enjoy! Remember to just enjoy and have fun! Because camping is suppose to be fun. Isn’t it? It’s at least good for a few stories when you get home.

Share some tips.  Share some stories.....good or bad.  Have you gone camping?

Enjoy Your Day!  Please be sure to come back tomorrow for another giveaway teaser!  Everyone will love this one!


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