Camping with Kids

It’s getting close to camping season for our family. After years of tent camping as a couple without children, we were blessed with the most excited young campers. Our first camping experiences with our children were in the backyard – and it’s a great place to start. You can test out your gear and make great notes on what to plan, what to pack, and what not to pack – you can also adjust your expectations to meet the reality of camping with young children.

Backyard and local parks are great places to start camping with young children.

While our children were toddlers our camping trips were usually to the backyard for a couple of hours. Then we moved up to nearby parks for a night or two. As Mom, I quickly learned not to expect this to be the same kind of camping as we had experienced sans kids. Planning and cooking our camping meals was a big part of our trip, but this family camping definitely called for paper plates and oreos. Instead of all day outings, we had naps. Instead of cooking lunch over the fire, we drove out of the campground and grabbed a cooked pizza. Don’t tell the tent camping police, but instead of storytelling around the fire, we brought a laptop for movie night! Then mom and dad snuck out of the tent and sat by the campfire.

The key to camping with young children and toddlers is making it a safe and fun experience for everyone. The key to doing it more than once is to make it as simple as possible for yourself (the parent).

Some of my suggestions for camping gear with your young ones:

  • paper plates
  • favorite finger foods ready to eat and individually packed
  • white noise maker for naps (phone app, or fan if you have electric hookups)
  • picnic blanket
  • picnic table cover and clamps
  • paper towels
  • hand-cleaning station (I’ll post pics of one we made in a future post.)
  • small garbage bags
  • new coloring book and crayons (for quiet time)
  • glow sticks
  • small flashlights or head lamps
  • small outdoor toys – beach toys, magnifying glass, bug trap, ball
  • closed-toe shoes for exploring
  • a change of clothes
  • battery powered lantern
  • sleeping bag or blanket and favorite stuffed animal

It’s so good for us and our kids to get outside!  Thank you for reading.  I hope you are able to get out this fall and enjoy some outdoor time with your family.