Thursday, September 17, 2009

Camping With Kids 101

I love camping!!!
I always loved it, but we hadn't been camping since before we had kids. When we were invited by our awesome friends, the Van Dykes, on a camping trip I knew it was time to try it out! I talked Stephen into it, and in August we went on our fun-filled, two-night camping trip with three great families from our ward!!!

Now that I am an expert on camping with a baby and a toddler (what? You doubt me?), I am willing to share this knowledge with all of my readers! Count yourselves lucky!

I now present. . . Camping With Kids (Young Kids!) 101:

*Be prepared!!! Be extra, ultra-prepared! Take things with you that you think you won't even need. It's better to have too much than to have too little. I made a list that was about four pages long and checked off everything as we packed it. (Never mind that some things I could never find because the car was packed so tightly!)

*Take LOTS of pictures of your cute little campers! Kirsten had so much fun living completely outdoors for two days, she was in Kirsten-heaven!!!

*For a baby, a front pack or baby carrier is a great idea! Too bad Natalie doesn't like it and cried whenever I tried to put her in it. What I used quite a bit was the car seat. She took naps in the car seat, and I would just put the entire seat on my legs and swing them back and forth until she fell asleep. It worked really well for her!
*Make sure you have a big enough tent to fit your entire family! This is what I wish we would have done. We knew our tent was much too small to fit a queen-sized air mattress AND a pack-n-play, so we borrowed an extra tent from our friends and had two tents. It worked out fairly well (I slept on the queen air mattress with the baby in one tent, Stephen slept on a twin air mattress in the other tent with Kirsten's pack-n-play). But before our next camping trip, we're buying a bigger tent for sure! It's more fun to be together as a whole family, plus it's kind of a pain to set up and take down two tents instead of one!

*For heaven's sakes, take air mattresses and make sure you have a pump for them that's FULLY charged plus extra batteries for it! Air mattresses are one of the greatest inventions ever. I remember camping on a thin little mat as a kid and not getting a wink of sleep the entire night. Air mattresses are so comfy!

*Find a beautiful camping location. Fortunately, this is extremely easy in Washington! The hard part is choosing where to camp! This place was already picked out for us, and it was in the Wenatchee Forest. Gorgeous, huh?
*Get there early enough that you don't have to set up in the dark! Setting up tents and trying to get everything cooked in the dark is tough. We had a late dinner the first night, and it was a little stressful.

*Get each kid their own flashlight. Kirsten was so thrilled to have a flashlight, and she would just walk around the campsite at night shining it everywhere!
*If you're camping with other families (which most people do!), it works great to do dinners together with everyone, and divide up the food list and assign people different things to bring. We had hot dogs and chips together the first night, Shepherd's Pie made by Stephen in the Dutch Oven the second night, and French toast and bacon for breakfast on our last morning!

*Two nights was a good length of time. Three would have been fun as well. One night would just be too short, and four would be getting too long!
*Bring roasting sticks and make all the s'mores you can eat! Campfires are my favorite part of camping! I love to sit around the campfire and talk late into the night, and a fire-roasted s'more just tastes so perfect!!! We all played some fun games around the campfire like I've Never and Two Truths and a Lie. And I loved talking and getting to know people better! Campfires are just the best. Someday I really want a fire pit in my backyard. First I need a backyard. :)
*Make sure you have some manly men along to supply firewood. The guys found a dead tree and hacked it up with an axe, so we had a never-ending supply of firewood!
*This isn't a tip, and there's no way to prevent this, but I have to tell you the worst thing about our camping trip. . . BEES!!! Horrible bees were constantly buzzing around us in the campsite, whether we had food or not, and it was annoying! Of course when we had food it was even worse, and they would swarm around us so badly that some of us ate meals sitting in our cars! I expected mosquitos, but never expected bees like that!

*Let your kids enjoy climbing on everything in sight!
*Be prepared for ALL types of weather! We had really nice weather, and it was nice and warm even at night!

*Expect that your kids will sleep really badly. . . that way if they sleep well you'll be happily surprised! Natalie slept better on this camping trip than she does at home. She slept in both mornings until close to 10:00! Why can't she do that when we're at home???
*Did I mention that you have to take lots of pictures? It's the only way I get any good ones, especially with a two year-old who is constantly moving and won't pose for the camera!

*Take awesome friends with you who love to hold your baby! Especially since Natalie refused to go in our front carrier, it was a lifesaver to be able to hand her off to other people and have my hands free some of the time. Thank you, friends!!!
*If your kids aren't the same age as other kids who are going, don't worry about it! Kirsten just loves Alanna Van Dyke, who is six, and follows her around all the time. It's really cute!
*Kirsten also made a few new friends on our camping trip. . . and her new favorite is Thomas Lovell, who's five. She thought he was hilarious, and chased him around yelling his name. Two years old and already chasing the boys!
*Taking art supplies and games is a great idea! Kirsten and the other kids had fun coloring one morning. I like this shot of her grubby little hand holding the crayon.
*Don't take anything with you that you can't bear to ruin or lose! I took my favorite, adorable flowery baby hat for Natalie because it's the most comfortable and warmest one we have, but I was nervous the whole time that it would get dirty or ruined.
*If you or your kids normally sleep with white noise machines, put some batteries in them and take them with you! Portable sound machines made it possible for our kids to nap and sleep through the night, and helped me to sleep better too. It minimizes noise from other campers, or annoying bugs or birds that are always right next to your tent.
*Explore the surrounding area! The Van Dykes found a great little waterfall, so we got some gorgeous pictures taken there. Here's our family at the waterfall!

*Go camping even if you're pregnant! My friend Rozemary did it, and she had an awesome time too!
*Make sure your kids have sturdy shoes to climb in. . . and know that the shoes will never be fully clean again. Kirsten climbed everything!
*Go hiking! Kirsten loves riding in the baby backpack. You never know what kind of interesting things you'll find in the woods.
*Take super cool pictures in front of massive, awesome rocks!!! (Okay, maybe that's just us. But it was fun!)

*If your kids go to bed and stay there, enjoy some fun, relaxing adult time by the campfire! That was one of the hardest things for Stephen and me, because Natalie was the youngest kid there and she didn't fall asleep until much later in the evening than the other kids did. So while everyone else got to relax, me and Stephen had to bounce Natalie and try to get her to fall asleep. Teething baby = No fun! This shirt is so fitting. . . she is SUCH a night owl! Good thing she's cute!
*Expect your kids to get VERY dirty! Take lots of baby wipes and antibacterial wipes with you, and have plenty of water on hand for washing. I thought this was dirty, but I hadn't seen anything yet. . . (Love this face!)

*She actually streaked the dirt ALL over her face! And every other kid there was at least as dirty as Kirsten was!
*The dirtiest Kirsten has ever been! And she loved it!
*Bonus points if there's a nearby river the kids can go wash off in!
We'll never forget this camping trip and I'm SO glad we were brave and decided to take our 2 year-old and 4 month-old camping with us. It was hard at times, and not relaxing at all, but it was FUN and completely worth it! If you're considering camping with young kids, go for it! We will definitely be camping again next summer!!!


  1. Cute pictures- it looks like you had a great time!

  2. Cute, cute, CUTE pictures AND makes me want to take MY kiddos camping! Now we just need a tent...and sleeping bags...and camping supplies...hmmmm...maybe next year? Hahaha...LOVE the pictures of Kristen's dirty face! So cute!!

  3. Wow! You are so brave, and I am glad it worked out so great!! I love the picture of Kirsten's dirty face...too cute!

  4. When I was a kid we camped a lot. And there were always too many bees. My dad would put sugar water a little ways away from us for the bees after the sweet stuff or raw bacon for the meat eating bees. Which ever was needed. How he knew which to put out I don't know. We still had bees but not as bad and could eat. We also brought bee traps with us.

  5. This was AWESOME!!! I would like to add one more: Know where the nearest hospital is. That way when you daughter gets stung by a bee, if she ends up being allergic then you know where to go! I'm glad Eiza wasn't allergic...I was worried for a little bit!

  6. Looks like a lot of fun! We love to camp as a family too. It's a ton of work, but well worth it.

  7. Good job!!!! Sounds like your "pack rat" symptoms worked and used everything you brought!!!
    Better to be prepared then not...That is my husbands job in my house, he doesn't forget anything and makes lists, not me.

    If Natalie sleeps good in the car seat, try it at home, maybe she'll sleep longer there too. I did that for one of my children and it worked wonders!

    I can't wait to watch the Women's broadcast and General Conference coming up!

    I have lost another 5 pounds!!!!
    Yes! I am up to a mile on the eclipse machine in fifteen minutes plus stairmasters 8 minutes plus many more machines at 24 hr. fitness. 3 days a week!

    With only child at home, it is much easier to eat healthier!!! I have seen a nutritionist twice so far. She's my cheerleader and director. I don't count calories, just eat healthier and more often which has boosted my metabolism!

    Thanks for sharing such sweet photos!
    Love always,

  8. Looks like funl! Cute pictures. :)

  9. You guys are just crazy! I love the shot of Kirsten with mud all over her face. Awesome!

  10. That was a fun trip! I'm glad you all enjoyed yourselves, too.

  11. They are adorable. Some of our families greatest memories are from camping trips.

  12. Lovely had great time...its so good to see you guys enjoying!!!

    Have fun,

  13. Looks like too much fun. Now you know why Dad always brought a wheel barrow....with heated water, they made a great bathtub at the end of a very fun day...with little dirt clod children :)

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