Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Camp or Not to Camp, That is the Question

Camping with children, either you have it in you or you don't. I'm pretty darn sure I fall into the latter category, at least until my kids are both potty trained, in big beds and no longer napping.

But first we should really clarify what camping is to you; is it a tent in the wilderness, or is it in a huge RV with running water, a shower, a toilet and a fridge where you back into a stall next to 50 other huge homes on wheels?

Two years ago DH was determined we try camping with the kids. Little man was only 6 months old and our Turkey was just over 1 1/2 years old. DH borrowed one of those above mentioned huge RV's so we didn't have to worry about it getting too cold at night, keeping milk cold for the kids, making formula bottles and sterilizing them, quiet places to nap, etc. Basically it was the easiest form of camping ever.

My SIL came along with her 3 and 5 year old daughters and decided to go the tent route which worked ok as neither child was still napping, they were both potty trained and sleeping in 'big girl' beds.

After many beers around the campfire that night, while listening to her children still fighting at 11pm, we both conceded that neither of us felt on vacation. We determined that camping with kids wasn't really a vacation, it was simply a relocation. Our husbands couldn't understand but really, could they ever? These are the guys that decide on the spur of the moment to go swimming so throw the kids in a car and start driving. It's the mom that will say 'Do you have their swimsuits? Do you have their towels? Sippy cups? Swim diapers? Coins for a locker?' to which the hubbies will answer 'No. Oh I forgot those. Can you get me that stuff?'.

Camping with an RV is definitely a step closer to the comforts of home so is less work and involves less concerns with travelling with children. But camping with a tent means so many more obstacles that you need to work out prior to departing. It was one thing when you were just a young married couple and would pitch a tent in the middle of the wilderness & sit and read books and stare at a fire for hours on end. Now with 2 toddlers that spells boredom and a huge safety concern!

Sure enough, DH is determined we try camping again this summer and wants to do it old style, that is in a tent. So while he's picturing fishing and sitting around roasting marshmallows I'm picturing a 2 yr old that is used to a crib and now has all this sudden bedtime freedom, and two toddlers with a fascination with fire, and how to keep the milk cold!

As I said before either you have it in you or you don't and I'm still quite certain that I don't; the very thought of camping shouldn't cause heart palpitations - right? Right?!?!

So, I'm accepting any words of wisdom, comments of support, or copious amounts of booze to get through the weekend.


  1. Hmmm . . . . Where do I start? We've camped all along - my youngest was 8 days old when he had his first trip. However, we've always had a trailer (much easier to put to sleep with surrounding noises) and the nap time simply meant I had a LITTLE time to myself. But we usually camped with friends too, who helped out, so as much as the preparation was a bit of a panic, I was actually more relaxed once I got there than I might have been at home. We had rules about the firepit (walk BEHIND the chairs) although kids are quite amazing - they usually feel the heat and won't even go near it. Bring LOTS of clothes. My hubby thinks I pack to much, but they get soaked, filthy crawling on the dirt, etc. Some kind of large mat is great so they have a play area where they can sit on their butts. If a toddler, bring the pack and play. It will also be fabulous place to throw the kid (in the tent/trailer or out) with a few toys while you relax for a minute. We brought dirt-friendly toys, play tents, water guns, even a small pool (the last rarely used though). When they were very young I was sure to take them to the park daily - mainly to get them out of the trailer while the dh slept off a bit of the night before. :) Until we had the present trailer, our biggest issue I think was remembering to bring all evening snacks/etc. out of the trailer once they were put to bed. Now, they even have their own bedroom, so camping is more like a little hotel away from home (yes, we're spoiled). How to keep the milk cold? Ice? Or you can get a plug-in cooler (they exist) if you have a power site or another source of power. Mostly? Make a MASTER CAMPING LIST. I can give you mine if you like or you can find some online even to start from. Reprint it for every trip so you don't have to remember everything and so dh can help pack for more than himself. Any other questions, worries, please call! Our kids now have a love of nature - regardless of the fact that we camp in a small hotel (we avoid the "parking lots"). I don't regret the experience at all.

  2. We've camped with the kids numerous times (in a tent) and it's always been fine. When Alex and Amelia were still crib bound, we brought the pack n play play pen for them to sleep in, and had no issues at all.

    As for milk, where do you keep your food cold? put the milk in there.

    Bring lots of toys and clothes to keep them busy and semi clean. Oh, and lots of wipes. :)

    Sean also bought some glow sticks to give the kids at night. It encouraged them to stay in bed and gave them some light in the dark tent.

    It is also a good idea to camp with friends if you can, friends with kids. The kids keep each other entertained and you get to sit down for a bit.

    And finally, the fire, I do admit that scares me a lot, but I pu down big sticks as a "border" where the kids weren't allowed to cross and they had to approach their chairs from behind, not in front of the fire. we made it through the week without a burn, so it must have worked. Though I did say "don't play by the fire" so many times I thought I was a record skipping.

    Good luck! And have fun!

  3. Thanks for the advice ladies. It's going to be an interesting experience!