I know that I have mentioned camping with kids quite a few times, but I have not actually addressed the topic directly. My husband and I have three children ages 11, 3, and 18 months. All three of them enjoy seeing new places and sleeping in the tent, even though it’s new to our eighteen month old. He actually enjoys car rides for up to five hours now, verses screaming from the moment his butt hit the car seat. We think it’s because he loves adventure, just like the rest of us.
So, what are some things you need to remember when camping with kids? The most important thing is, expect the unexpected! For instance, when our son was eight he fell into a Port-a-John. Yeah. He looked like a Smurf becoming human – it was disgusting. There were not enough wipes and the only showers were a nice hike away at the front of the campground. We got him cleaned up, but it was a major event. Especially since he has always adored his sister, so he’s always trying to hold her hand, pet her head, etc. He was still trying to do that with Port-a-John goodies on him. She was about one year old at this time and made a face like she knew what was on him and wailed. By the way, the blue doesn’t come off right away.
Second, let your kids explore, but don’t let them out of your sight. There are snakes, bears, mountain lions, shady characters, etc in the wilderness. So be vigilant, but don’t hold your kids back. I do like to wear my youngest in a baby carrier, Lillebaby is my favorite because it has lumbar support and is safe for my son to face out for up to fifteen minutes. Typically he’s in it less because he loves to run.
Third, if there’s a lake, pond, creek, swimming pool, etc make sure at least one adult is a strong swimmer and allow that person to focus on the kids in the water. I’m not saying Person #2 can read a book or take a nap, they need to keep an eye out, too, but the faster the strong swimmer can help the better. Especially if you have a kid like our third. He thinks he can swim. I really need to enroll him, but I haven’t yet. He jumps off our pool float and goes straight down into the pool, but he holds his breath, so the closest person grabs him. He thinks this is hilarious! We keep him in a life vest, arm floats, and within arm’s reach at all times in water because we can’t trust him at all!
When packing, make sure you either put your stuff right in the car or some place your kids can’t reach. They love removing stuff and adding stuff. I’m sure you know this, but for some reason they’re so much worse when it’s camping gear.
Make a list and over pack diapers, wipes, bandaids, antiseptic, laundry detergent (you don’t know that you won’t have to wash clothes- trust me!), batteries, and snacks. It’s better to have them and not need them instead of needing them and paying tourist prices. Especially batteries for flashlights and lanterns because kids love leaving them on all day and night, playing flashlight tag, etc.
One of my favorite things to do is to buy my kids a backpack for camping. I put all of their clothes, extra toys, sippy cup, etc in it and I make sure that they know it’s theirs. Then they will ask to carry their stuff instead of whining for you to carry everything. At least out to the car. I make no promises after that point.
Let your kids help with stuff. Whether it’s gathering firewood, stirring dinner, or carrying their own gear. Ours love throwing sticks into the fire and they feel important because they’re helping. Our eighteen month old is going to be chef because his favorite thing in the world is stirring anything in a pot. Sometimes it doesn’t even need stirred, but he’s going to take care of it anyway!
Also, walk your kids around the campground and point out landmarks. That way, if they do wander off, they have a better chance of finding their way back. Do something distinctive at your campsite so that everyone can find it in the dark. Use solar LED lights, string lights, or whatever will let you know that you’re heading towards your campsite.
Don’t forget to take at least one picture of your kids in the morning in case they do wander off, so everyone knows what they are wearing. Never occurred to us until we took ours to an amusement park and someone decided to go to the bathroom alone. I don’t know why this kid has so many “bathroom issues”. lol We have also thought about getting Tile Mates and attaching one to our kid’s clothing so if they do wander off, we can GPS track them. Our oldest has a cell phone that we can do this with as well.
I hope that this has helped you in some way. If it has, let me know below! Thank you for stopping by and happy camping!