First rule of camping: expect the unexpected.
We’ve been camping with our tot for most of his life. Car camping, back country hike in camping, pioneer camping, group camping, chilly camping and hot camping. It’s never the same experience, in fact, it’s never even been the same campground!
We made our most recent trip to Cloudland Canyon in North Georgia through an invite of a neighbor and schoolmate of my son. We also met with a fellow Hike It Baby family at a group site and made plans to hike the next day. The leaves had fallen and the kids had a lot of fun walking through them searching for sticks…which leads me to my first tip:
Not toys allowed!
Okay, that’s a little extreme….I mean a shovel and bucket go a long way. I once brought a bug catcher that led to tons of adventure play. There is so much to do that toys will be the last thing they will think of. Abe once spent an hour breaking sticks to throw in the fire. AN HOUR! It was so peaceful and glorious. My one exception to the no toy rule is wind down toys or books. It’s fun to read the books by lantern light and is the perfect ending to an exciting day. You will be surprised at just how tired they are at sundown. The new environment and fresh air usually has my tot down hours before his actually bedtime. Kids will find a way to play….don’t worry about creating that experience for them.
Side note: hammocks help with play and naps!
Let’s get something out of the way, first and foremost, there is no clean in camping. Yes sometimes there are showers and ways to keep clean but in the end there is always going to be dirt.Bring your child’s clothes in a zip-lock bag in case of wet accidents or for storage once they change clothes. Between the fire and questionable bathroom conditions, wipes and hand sanitizer are helpful but remember..there will always be dirt.Also remember scents like wipe and trash attract bears- this is where that handy zip-lock bag comes into play!
Family activity is a must!
The actual concept of a camping trip is a family activity in itself, I know, I’m not breaking any new ground on family camping tips. What I specifically mean is to really enjoy your time together. We like to hike so that is almost always our activity. Maybe it’s something you’ve built up on the car ride or maybe it’s something you’ve let your tot choose.Hike a mountain, get some leaf rubbings or one of my favorite things to do is to find a wishing rock to put our feet on and make a wish. We are always looking forward to that time in nature and of course there will be difficult times that wont go as planned but I promise you are stronger for those times. Last fall we went camping straight from apple picking. We had a blast and on our way down the mountain we got a flat tire.. on a dirt and rocky forest road… was raining and we were downhill. Oh, and Abe was puking up all the apples from the day before. It definitely was not our favorite memory but like I said, we are definitely stronger for it. Everything your child experiences with you is a memory they will keep forever and how you choice to look at the situation will definitely rub off on your tot.
Make sure to eat gooood!
Back to my recent trip with two other families. The most interesting thing to me was the food we all brought.While my family focuses on hearty food another family focused on pb&j’s and veggies. I am diabetic and I do not ever bring sweets. My poor son has no clue what a s’more or marshmallow is so he does not follow in the delight of that most exciting tradition. I do bring him a special candy treat for when he’s tired on the trail and needs motivation. One of the other mothers who is a stay at home mom was super thrifty and brought homemade meals that were previously frozen. I admired the preparedness of her bounty knowing that we had just stopped at the Piggly Wiggly (mountain town standard in Georgia) and loaded the car up with way too much food on our way to the campsite. There are times that we plan better or eat lighter depending on where we are camping and if we are hiking in but it still fascinates me to see how other people plan and what works for them. Hands down our favorite food is on the trail. Everything taste so much better and we get to rest.
Any questions about an upcoming camping trip?