Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Camping with Young Children

This past weekend marked our family's third foray into the world of camping. This time and last year, the temperatures were near or below freezing at least one of the nights, so we not only trek into our campsite, we carry a household full of blankets too! We've definitely not worked out all of our kinks yet, but we can pass on a few things we've learned in case you'd like to take your kiddos camping as well.
**As for clothing, layers are a must. All the kids and I wore a legging/long underwear layer and then we just put more on as it got colder throughout the evening. The boy wore his long underwear with jeans during the day until he got hot and then he could ditch the long underwear. At night he wore the long underwear with a layer of fleece. The girls were much the same. Layer, layer, layer.
**Food: we love roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, so that usually constitutes one meal. We like to do hobo meals--just wrap some hamburger meat and potatoes and carrots in foil and toss them on the fire. Check them often; they don't take long to cook. (Personal experience talking...) Otherwise, just bring lots of easy food. And I do mean LOTS! Something about being outside 24 hours a day makes my crew very, very hungry. We went through a tub of hummus, a box of crackers, two loaves of homemade bread, a pound of sandwich meat, chips, homemade pumpkin snickerdoodles and loads of hot chocolate in our two (yes, only 2!) days of camping.
**Bring a book. Our favorite thing to do when it gets dark is snuggle up by the fire and read a book (with a flashlight). Last year it was Edward Tulane--the kids loved the adventures of that lovable rabbit as he learned humility. This year we're reading The Hobbit again and loving it, of course.
**Choose your camping area carefully. In warm weather, water is a definite plus. In colder weather, hiking and biking take the forefront with our crew. Playgrounds are a nice plus as well. As I've said, we love the walk-in campsites, which usually gives us a ton of "private" woods for the kids to explore.
**Buy your kiddos emergency flashlights. This year we got the ones with a lanyard for their necks and a whistle (which they got to try out and then were instructed that these were only for emergencies.) I felt much better about the exploring after dark when I knew each kid had their own flashlight and the ability to call for help. $3.50 a kid bought us some safety and peace of mind as well as made each kid a lot more excited about the darkness.
**If you're walking in, pack all your light stuff in one huge tub. Carry the heavier stuff one at a time. Throwing your back out is no way to start out a camping trip!
**Stay up late. Eat more sweets. Relax more. Say yes more. Worry less. (Remember in the midst of all that work: "You're having fun!!")


  1. thanks for linking with Kids in the Kitchen!

  2. How fun! I really want to take the kids on a REAL camping trip.

  3. I haven't had Snickerdoodles in forever and pumpkin flavored ones sound divine!

  4. I look forward to camping with our little one. I loved reading Edward Tulane to my students when I taught and have read the Hobbit more than once and love it each time.

  5. Our family used to camp every summer when we were growing up - I have a lot of fond memories (such as what you've described) and would love to share that experience first-hand with our kids. Now to convince the hubby it's as much fun as it really is. ;)

    Channeling Jules Cobb – Or Just Her Giant Wine Glass and a Scientific Experiment

  6. I'm so glad you are taking your kids camping. It seems to scare off so many people. Sure, it is different than going with just adults, but they won't learn otherwise. Also, they seem to notice things we don't.

    The first time we took our kids (toddlers) camping, it turned cold at night. Yet, they kicked off their covers and never woke to cover back up. (And to think we sacrificed and gave them the warmer blankets.) In the morning, one had blue lips and fingers ...then it started to rain. We called it quites.

    The second and third times were much better. Now I know to dress them in layers at night and let them keep on socks, hats, etc. if it is cold.