Monday, September 23, 2013

Camping With Young Children

Even though UGANDA looms in our future far before our next camping trip, it's still starting to feel fallish, and I'm still getting the camping bug. I can't wait until we're taking all five kiddos camping with us! Here's what we learned last year at about his time about the wonderful world of camping:

 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!!")

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