Tips for Family Camping
Do you take your kids camping?
I don’t know about you, but my family never went camping when I was a kid. And as a parent, we often want to make sure our own children don’t miss out on the things we feel we missed as kids. My husband was actually the one who introduced me to camping, and I immediately fell in love with it. We camped out a lot before we had kids of our own (he was a Life Scout and still has mad skillz when it comes to camping), when we were still living in New Orleans. Of course, I prefer camping in Colorado (where we live now) a whole lot better than camping in Louisiana (where I grew up)…why, you ask? Less bugs, no mosquitos and much better views? The tradeoff is that while you can camp out during most of the year in Louisiana, the season is fairly short here in Colorado with most campgrounds only open from May through September.
1. Prepare them in advance.
I like to warn my kids that we’ll be doing a lot of outdoor stuff, and we have to pack and unpack everything in our car, and the tent (or cabin, or yurt, depending on what kind of camping we’re doing) has limited space, so they are only allowed to bring one stuffed animal with them. We usually allow them each to bring just one non-electronic diversion as well (Rainbow Loom and supplies, or crocheting materials, or a nice fat book, or a puzzle book, or something of that nature). We typically bring their electronics just in case of rain, but we never run out of things to do. We also warn them that camping takes a lot of effort and we need everyone to focus and pitch in to get the work done quickly so that we can then enjoy our time to relax and do what we want to do. Preparing them in advance leads to fewer upsets as the packing begins and they begin to understand what it really means to “rough it.”
2. Pack the lovey.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination to discover that you’ve forgotten the lovey your child can’t get to sleep without. This comfort item is extra-important when sleeping away from home, surrounded by strange smells and sounds. And a lovey is the one thing you can’t replace, so double-check to ensure it’s packed! My middle child was notorious for fishing her lovey out of the suitcase or duffel and a couple of times we nearly forgot it at home because of this.
3. Don’t be a hero.
If you’ve got a toddler who’s in the middle of potty training, don’t feel as though you must to get the “unimproved” tent site to show the kids what “real” camping is like. When our kids were at difficult ages (like crawling and squirmy, but not yet walking), I didn’t hesitate to rent a cabin or yurt, or bring the portable crib and baby toys along with us. Think about why you want to take the kids camping (family time, bonding, life skills, making memories, fresh air, etc.) and make this your priority. It’s still camping, even if you stay in a cabin with beds and you don’t cook all your meals over the fire.
4. Pack your MindTime meditations.
For camping, we recommend Calm, Sleep Here, Restful Sleep, Relaxed Travel, and Deep Relaxation. If you won’t have wifi where you’re headed, be sure to download the MP3s onto your phone or iPad and bring a pair of earbuds to help your little one really enjoy the campout. Get your Lifetime membership here.