This post could be about “How to Survive a Camping Trip” period. But, assuming you actually like camping, let’s just talk about camping with little ones. This weekend my family enjoyed a camping trip at the ocean on Hunting Island, SC. Despite the heat, it was one of our best trips together as a family. Here’s what I have learned about camping with children:
- Choose a Good Campsite: A good campsite has lots of shade, water to play in (creek, lake, ocean), and a playground. Extra points if you can find one with trailside campsites, which are sites not right on the road. It’s great to be able to let the kids play without worrying about cars driving by.
- Plan to Play: Camping with young children is not relaxing. Plan on a high-energy, playful experience. Bring outdoor toys, but not too many. Kids will be more captivated by the great outdoors than by any toy from home. For babies, a carrier will help you get around with ease. For older kids, bikes, scooters, skates, etc are great.
- Stop Bugs: The worst thing about camping is the bugs. Plan ahead with citronella candles and DEET-free bug spray. I like Burt’s Bees Lemongrass spray and California Baby’s Natural Bug Blend, SPF 30 sunscreen with natural citronella built in.
- Do Easy Food: With children running around and places to go, you won’t have the time or patience to wash pots, plates, cups and silverware. Our daddy planned smart with meals that are cooked directly on the grill and pre-assembled whenever possible. Think marinated chicken, grilled veggies (bring and cook in foil) and hot dogs. Ok, so maybe it’s not the healthiest food, but there is a time for easy to be a priority! Disposable is the way to go when you’re camping with children.
- Simplify Nap-time: If your children still nap, you’re lucky you may find nap-time challenging. With warm weather (it’s especially stuffy in the tent!), new surroundings, and no “soundproofing”, baby has a hard time falling asleep. Plan on one nap, even if your child usually takes two. Wait until he or she is exhausted, maybe after the playground or a morning at the beach, and then give it a try. The car may be an easier napping location than the pack n’play. The car is a familiar, boring environment. Hop in, take a short ride, and then park to enjoy some air conditioning while baby sleeps!
- Make Memories: Camping is a time to really be with your children, 100%. No internet, no TV, no chores to distract you from pure family time. Here’s the chance to catch up on your picture-taking, let your kids get filthy (thank goodness for campground showers!), and stay up late together to roast marshmallows. It’s all about being together!
I can’t say that I enjoyed every minute of our weekend camping trip, but the time we spent at the beach was truly priceless. I’m so thankful for my family!