Monday, July 15, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Camping with Kids

We’re just back from a terrific long weekend of camping. I’ve mentioned before, but here I go again, I grew up camping with my family (and groups of family friends) and honestly it makes up some of my best childhood memories. Our kids have always enjoyed camping. We’ve gone for four consecutive years now and it’s what they look forward to most in the summer holidays. It’s an opportunity to be surrounded in nature, cut off from T.V., cell phones and all electronics. They spend hours on their bikes finding other kids to play with and it rejuvenates all of us.
Now, camping sounds super great and fun when you throw the idea out there, but do not be fooled – it requires a ton of planning and organization. We didn’t do this with our kiddos until they were five, seven and nine, but so many brave parents out there do this with kids who are way younger. I thought I’d share some great ideas that we used in the last few years to help us stay organized, as well as new ideas I have found that should help us make our next camping trip even better. I hope some of these tips will help you if you plan to camp with your family this year.

  • If you are camping in an area that you are not familiar with, check out your surroundings – is there a grocery store nearby, a restaurant, pharmacy or other stores you may need to hit up on your vacation? If so, you can worry less about packing everything you need for your stay relying on nearby stores. If, however, you are secluded, packing and planning just became even more necessary. Lists will be your best friend here. Go through each area of the trailer or tent that you have and itemize what needs to be included for your vacation. For instance – make a complete list of items for your cooking area, bathroom area or outdoor fun items, etc. . .
  • Meal Planning: So we definitely have treats on our camping week. We indulge in treat cereal, tons of S’more combinations and have our favourite chips by the campfire. Having said that, we do still like to keep the kiddos balanced with all the food groups and lots of healthy snacks and treats for the beach. How to be prepared? We cook meat ahead for lunches; ham and chicken are our go-tos. We have it pre cooked and chopped up for salads, sandwiches, wraps and cold plates. We peel, cut and wash our veggies and store them in a large Ziplocs for the week. Same goes for fruit, try to choose fruit that are grab and go, that don’t have to be stored in the fridge – because we all know how tiny those trailer fridges are, and have them washed and ready to be eaten. We make muffins, granola bars and cookies ahead and store them in containers for the week. These always disappear. As for suppers, think ahead about what meals will be easy and efficient for your week. Choose your meats and sides and precook any that you can. Go with staples that will be good for more than one meal, think of good leftover meals to score a second supper out of it.
  • Packing: Make a list, and if your children are old enough, have them pack the items. Think about clothing, layers for all types of weather as well as rain gear, books, a favourite toy or two, board games/cards for rainy days, favourite sleeping items (we have certain squishy bears that are musts for our girls), swimwear and footwear. Have them check the items off their list as they pack and always double check their packed luggage. I can’t count how many times one of my kiddos packed extra underwear but forgot pants or some other important item.
  • Check out activities on site or nearby: Know what’s available to do so that you can plan those activities into your schedule. Discuss what your children really want to do during the vacation and as a family make a list of musts, and possibilities. This will help with any moments that come up that you are unsure of how to fill.
  • Nature: Embrace it. Look for paw prints, clouds, constellations. Lead kids on a rock scramble. Show interest in things that interest them. Last year a hit for us was a nighttime walk with a flashlight. They loved being out at night, adventuring. We’ve also loved building little homes for the chipmunks.
  • Teeny tiny littles: Ok, so I can honestly say I once camped with a toddler. We tented, we were brave. Things to consider; fitting in the playpen. Whether it be in a trailer or tent make room for the playpen (that is if your child sleeps in a crib normally). Consider a noise machine or something to create noise in case your camping neighbours are loud. This will help them maintain somewhat of a sleep schedule. Consider finding a good shade umbrella or something similar for hot beach days. Try and keep their schedules as close to normal as possible to help them maintain some sort of routine and to ensure a happy go lucky kiddo.

Take time to put away the electronics and disconnect: In our world of screens and being available to everyone all the time, take the time to unplug. You will enjoy it and so will your little ones. Make memories and have fun
Hopefully these tips help you should you and your family choose to camp this summer.

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