Having kids is a steep learning curve as i’m sure every mum would agree with and it doesn’t stop when they’re out of nappies.
One of the big milestones we’re going to look at is, how to take them on their 1st camping trip.
How do you take these tiny humans who like to be snuggled to sleep in warm cosy beds at night, out into a thin canvas tent with noises all around???
Get organised before you go and the whole experience is so much easier.
As a child, we camped out all the time, so when I was ready to take my own flock of kids out for our first big camping trip, I took for granted how prepared my mother was and how much she did for us to make sure everything went smoothly.
Our first trip was a nightmare- Oh my word! Wet weather, kids touching the walls making leaks in the sides, sleepless nights with other campers, singing till all hours – it made for a nightmare weekend.
But not wanting my kids to miss out on the experiences I had as a child, we persevered and slowly got the hang of what worked and what didn’t. (Mum help me!!) So these are my essentials for camping with kids
Firstly, What Is Camping
Camping can mean different things to different people.
It could mean sleeping out under the stars, constructing a simple tarp and hammock between 2 trees or erecting a tent in a beautiful spot, surrounded by family and friends around a campfire.
Why Do People Go Camping?
Isn’t camping out under the stars is a reason in itself?
Camping Is a fantastic way to spend quality time together away from technology, tv and other distractions.
It’s also a great way to connect with nature, and the great outdoors.
Learn how to build a fire, pitch a tent, or read a compass. And don’t forget the best bit about camping… s’mores!!
Must-Bring Camping Essentials
Start by choosing the right tent. It’s amazing how qrong this can go!
Having a good amount of space is key to not getting grumpy with each other.
Being cramped in a small space will instantly set nerves to jangle mode!!
Our tent, a Vango Odyssey 500 family tunnel tent in Edsom Green. is brilliant. It’s a good size for our family of 6 (including the dog)
It’s got full standing height which is important to me with my bad back.
This tent is also so easy to put up, 3 poles front, middle and back and job done.
I usually put this tent up myself while the others walk the dog after a long drive.
The inside is fab too, as the groundsheet actually clips to the outer shell. Stopping it wrinkling up when the kids move around and let the wet grass in.
The bedroom compartment also separates into 2 as well, so we can give the kids their own space which is awesome.
We’ve had a few tents in our time and this one is by far our favorite.
We were tempted to trade it in for an inflatable rib tent but this one put us off. Puncture repair kit anyone??
• Sleeping bags
We each have our own sleeping bag, my husband, daughter and eldest son prefer the hooded type like this.
A good idea for kids especially is to add padding of some kind to go under the sleeping bags.
• First Aid Kit. Burns, scratches, cuts or bumps—one of these is bound to happen on an active camping trip, making a first-aid kit is one of the most important camping essentials you could bring especially with kids.
• Pack of Matches or candle lighter
• Cooker and gas bottle ( or bbq)
We use a simple one ring camp stove and ot gives us enough room to make pancakes and bacon rolls for breakfast.
Cowboy casserole, quesadillas or frittata for lunches and so many one pot pasta, meat and curries for dinners.
• Plastic plates, cups and cutlery are great but we also have these metal camping cups and plates, which are larger than a normal mug or plate and help the tea/food stay hotter for longer which is a must on a cold damp morning.
• Taking a tarp with you is a great idea to make a shelter if it rains.
• A Lantern, Flashlight or Headlamp is essential for late night toilet visits and midnight snacks.
• It’s a good idea to take one pair of PJ’s and a change of clothes for every family member; two if your taking very young kids with you.
I like to pack a sun hat, wellies, and rain jacket (and suncream)
For our family, I like to take an extra change of clothes, as we camp near a river where the kids love to paddle and swim. A floart or arm bands might be an idea too.
Another must have, is to have a thick jumper or housecoat to pop on in the morning before everyone’s awake and dressed. A onsie is useful too as pajamas and warm when heading out at night.
- Take towels; one per person.
- If you have an extra fleece cover or 2 it’s a good idea to throw these in for cold nights and damp kids.
- Toiletries to take include, soap, face cloth, tooth brushes and paste, deodorant. If you have a shower block in your campsite then take shampoo too. Nappies, pull-ups and wipes if needed too.
• Roll of toilet paper is useful for snotty noses and using the camping toilet.
• We have this Kampa Kazi or camping toilet and it’s a life saver.
Usually we keep it for bedtimes and through the night and it saves a lot of long walks at 3am.
It is basically a bucket inside a seat and it has a lid and all we do is empty it in the waste disposal each morning and give it a rinse with disinfectant.
• If your taking some really young children a good idea is to take a travel cot.
This travel cot can act as a play area, give you a place to sit your toddler down off the grass. It’s an easy way to keep them safe as well as provide a familiar place to sleep.
- I love to take some small hot water bottles with us each time. We just boil our camping kettle and fill them up before bed and everyone is toasty for going to sleep.
When your camping, there is times when the kids need a little calming.
For example, they are up so earlyas they hear the dawn chorus, it’s tough to keep them quiet, so a dvd player is a great option to give other campers a chance to wake up at a reasonable hour, even if you can’t.
I used to love popping Aj in the buggy and taking the dog and off we would walk for miles.
We’d have an amazing morning watching the sunrise through misty mountains and having the world to ourselves for that couple of hours. Bliss!
Then we’d buy some milk and breakfast supplies and head home after a while at the play park and they others would just be starting to stir.
What fun they missed.
Also, there are times when you’ll need to clean up, wash dishes and do simple tasks around the tent, and for small kids, a device would come in handy for short periods of time.
Ok, So My Tips For Camping With Your Kids
Top tips for camping with children
Be realistic. You will never have the blissful camping trip you have in your head (sorry)learn to enjoy the moments you have and not get so frustrated because it doesn’t fit the perfect idea.
Try to keep small snacks and toys and crafts ideas hidden to pull out when the kids need something new.
Marbles are a great one because you can play in the tent or out.
Cards, teach your kids how to play some family favorites like pontoon, switch, or solitaire.
Glow sticks produce endless fun, as would a small digging spade for sand and mud, bubbles, drawing materials and even a ball or a frizbee.
Make daisy chains, tee pees or fishing rods.
A small telescope is a wonderful idea for at night for a calming activity. You might even see the International Space Station pass by.
Geocaching is a great activity for all the family- a big treasure hunt!
The first time I took my kids, I planned smores, songs around the fire etc.
In reality, the kids made friends and disappeared most of the time, they all decided they didn’t want smores or hot chocolate!!!!
I MEAN REALLY?!?!?
So, Essential Things To Remember
Just keep the kids warm and dry at all costs. Children are never more grumpy than when they are cold, wet and tired. Take extra covers, a gas heater or hot water bottles to be extra sure.
Have a family meeting with everyone and explain your rules, the boundary they have to keep to and the rules of the campsite. That way everyone knows what’s expected.
Take tons of snacks. Children will eat a ton of things when running around. They’re ALWAYS hungry!!!!
Great Camping Activities For Kids To Make Your Trip Fun
- Go on a nature walk. Have a walk around and explore. You could even try a fun scavenger hunt.
- Cook over the campfire. Either try a BBQ with sausages and kebabs or just do smores. A good easy trick to have smores is to use chocolate digestive biscuits instead of messing around with chocolate spread or bars.
- Watch for animals. wildlife will be everywhere, take a insect repellent spray and use it as directed. Remember to tell kids what to expect outdoors so there are not nasty surprises.
- 4 Tell stories by the fire. It can be stories of things you’ve shared together, stories from books or just make something up. Making your own version of these story stones from BusyBusyLearning.com would be a great way to start a conversation.
- 5 Play cards or board games. We love this card monopoly game. A fantastic version which takes a little getting used to but is so much easier that the traditional game.
- 6 Play flashlight tag around the tents at night or glow in the dark bowling by popping a few glow stick into water bottles.
- So much fun. You can also use glow sticks to play glow in the dark tic-tac-toe.
- 7 Check out this book. We take it everywhere and it gives us so many ideas when we are outdoors. Simple activities my 12 year old enjoys but activities my 2 year old can take part in.
Why We Love Camping
We love camping, and I love slowing down, spending time with my kiddos, away from the TV and the fresh air.
Just hearing the river tinkle alongside us, and being woken by the cows in the nearby field is amazing, as well as talking to loads of many new people.
Everyone seems to take a step back and want to be friendly.
The kids make new friends everyday and it’s wonderful to see them grow in confidence each time we go.
So, give it a try. Here’s some of the best camping products we use time and time again.
Do you love camping? what’s your favorite tip for camping with kids?
Remember to hit comment below and let us know!!!