Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tips for Camping with Kids from a Camping Rookie

My major in college was Outdoor Recreation and I totally scoffed at the thought of car camping, much less a camper. I loved backpacking and the whole "pack it in, pack it out" philosophy. However, having kids, especially one with special needs, has changed my thoughts drastically. We had access to a camper this past weekend and jumped at the chance to get out of town. So we embarked on our first real camping trip away from home. On a holiday weekend. With two days to prepare.

And it was awesome. And we also learned a lot.

Tips for Camping with Kids from a Camping Rookie

1. Pack everything the night before. If you have to make a stop or two in route, you may end up with cranky kids and that's no way to start a vacation.
2. You don't need as many clothes as you think you do. Everybody recycles clothes and nobody is really truly clean in the woods. Even with a kid who changes clothes often at home due to messiness is fine with dirty clothes while camping.  
3. Take lots of yard games. Our boys brought a soft nerd-like bat and ball and a soccer ball. Not great for a crowded campground. The Saturn ball was a great boredom distractor though, as was Uno and Checkers.  
4. Take some friends with you! Camping is a great family activity but it is even better when you have someone to share the memories with. If you plan ahead, sites can be reserved next to each other. You could even spring for an additional campsite between the two families once the kids get old enough to stay in a tent alone.  
5. If the college kids next to you party all night, do not hesitaite to contact the appropriate authorities. You paid for your campsite and deserve a good night's sleep.  
6. Get up early one morning to watch the sunrise over the lake, beach or other body of water. I watch it almost every day at home but it is worth getting up to see it over the water.  
7. If you go to another state, find out the laws before you go. Think boating, life jackets, car seats, bike helmets etc. If you plan on fishing, find out the those requirements and laws too.  
8. Try to get recommendations on a campground before you go. Find out if it is family friendly or more of a fish camp. It is also helpful to know if the No Alcohol rule or Quiet Time hours are actually enforced.  
9. Don't go out on a holiday weekend on your first real camping trip. We did and there was a reason for it. We went in to the weekend knowing it was going to be crowded and it was fine for us. however, I would not recommend it for a typical rookie. :)  
10. Be flexible. Kinda goes without saying if you have kids but for a planner like me, a reminder is sometimes necessary!

So there you have it - ten tips I wish I had known before we left home on Friday. You'll hear more about the trip in the coming weeks. We can't wait to go again!

Do you camp with kids? What is your best camping with kids tip?


  1. Too funny!

    I just asked my hubby how he felt about taking the kiddos camping. He's not too keen! Of course...I was thinking tent camping not camper camping. Maybe if it was camper camping?

    Following from the Crew...


  2. What great tips! Thanks for sharing them! :)

  3. Danielle, what are his reservations? May I suggest borrowing some equipment and trying it in your backyard first? We tent camped in our backyard several times before venturing out to a campground. Maybe wait until fall when it isn't too hot. I would hate to recommend someone going out in a tent for their first time in the heat we experienced. Oh and air mattresses help a lot for comfort if you don't have a Thermarest!

    Heidi, glad to help! I hope you will give it a try. We had a BLAST!

  4. Great advice! You certainly have me in the mood to go camping, I haven't been very way too long! My daughter hasn't had that experience, but i know she would love it. We are off to church camp today, that's almost like camping. :)


  5. I should go camping with my kids. I just dread it. LOL! Visiting and following from the crew!


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