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Camping at a campground with Kids

Camping with your kids looks glamorous in photos but what if you have never been; how do you wade into this adventure?

Our family had been avid backpackers since before we had our girls. In fact, my love of the outdoors had been there as long as I can remember from growing on the farm to camping and backpacking trips as a child. Our families experience had largely been backpacking style camping and not car camping which was easier when children were little due to more baby equipment. When we added children to our family, we decided to venture into the car camping. Both our girls first trips camping was when they were about 1 month old. Since we didn’t have the traditional car camping equipment, we simply dove into it with our backpacking gear (smaller more light-weight not as roomy and less glamorous). We found ourselves not loving the noise of car camping quite as much as the remote, quietness that we had loved during backpacking but it still allowed us to be out and even bigger perk was that we could usually convince friends to go.

So my advice is: if you have never done any camping at all, start with car camping (this is where you park your car next to your campsite), get a reservation at a somewhat local spot, borrow a tent, sleeping bags etc. and go. By being somewhat local allows for an epic failure to occur with a safety net so that you can simply drive home and sleep in your own bed.

Best items to bring on a camping trip:

  • Sleeping: Tent, sleeping bag, pillows, extra blankets if your sleeping bags are not warm, sleeping pad.

  • Cooking: Cook stove (can easily use a hot-pot cook top sold for 19.99 at Asian based markets), oil, spatula, seasoning, easy to cook food in a single pot (suggestions: ramen, pancakes, frozen hash brown and sausage, etc.), 2 tubs to wash dishes in, soap that biodegrades, towels, and a scrubber.

  • Clothing: Warm Coat (it gets cold when outside after the sun goes down), warm pants, tennis shoes for hiking, shorts, underwear (at least 2 pairs to change), tank tops and t-shirts, sweaters, hat, and sunglasses.

  • Personal Care: Light weight towel (that will easily dry like a backpacking towel), make up remover wipes (can use all over the body if no showers available and it removes sunscreen grime), Sunscreen, Chapstick with SPF, tooth paste and tooth brush, lotion, and a fingernail clipper.

  • For Fun: Frisbee, football, sand buckets and coloring books (or other art supplies you can travel with (for me that is water color paint travel set), camera or phone, solar charger for phones, Lantern (love the solar powered Luci light) and headlamp to see at night, Chairs to sit around the fire and wood for a fun fire (marshmallows if you like).

Kids will often get dirtier, much dirtier than adults while camping and this means for a basic weekend camping trip you will need at least 4-5 changes of clothes especially if a lake is involved. Our kids this past weekend went through 3 outfits on Saturday going in and out of the lake. I also recommend some garbage bags and Ziploc’s for the really dirty stuff.

So, get packing and have a wonderful time. I will share my backpacking list later on!

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