Camping with kids — It’s rarely easy but it’s often worth it.
Sure, it can be a wee bit frustrating trying to set up a tent with your kids tugging at you and jumping on top of the collapsed tent. And, if you’re like us, your five senses might play tricks on you as the wind rustles over your tent at night.
But then again, you get to experience sunrises as a family, picnics underneath a blue sky, and the joy of watching your kids explore the natural world.
As camping families go, we’re definitely not your rugged outdoors family. But we love being outside together, and we appreciate Mother Nature’s goodness. And so, we plan an annual camping trip and hope for the best.
If you’re considering a family camping excursion, here are a few tips:
Reserve a Campsite. Some of the best campsites in the West are available on a first-come basis, which is great for adventurers without kids, but a little stressful when you’re traveling with young campers.
When we pulled into the Pinyon Flats Campground at the Great Sand Dunes National Park this summer, it was nice to see a placard with our name next to a reserved campsite. When our kids are older, we might be willing to wing it more…but not just yet. You can research and reserve a campsite at a national park on recreation.gov.
Car Camp. When you think of the most idyllic campsite, you might picture your tent pitched in a grassy meadow alongside a bubbling brook far from other people and modern amenities. But those places are tough to get to, especially with kids.
So, for the time being, we’re camping at car-accessible campsites. Sure, you’ll have camping neighbors at nearby campsites, but our kids quickly made friends with the family next to us. And, best of all, you don’t need to lug all of your gear miles into the woods. It’s nice to have a home base with your car nearby your campsite.
Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time. There’s nothing like a hot meal cooked over a camp stove. Removed from everyday comforts, a hot meal is such a treat outdoors. But it’s really not necessary, especially when you have kiddos running around the campground.
We cook pasta salad ahead of time and bring plenty of fruits, jerkies, and nuts. Packing a cooler ahead of time makes mealtime so much easier. Of course, we still “cook” one item over a fire — roasted marshmallows for smores!
Bring Your Kid’s Favorite Blanket or Stuffed Animal. Kids love having a little piece of home with them inside the tent — it’s comforting for them and, hopefully, helps you all get a good night sleep! Our kids snuggle with their Companion Blankets, adding a touch of softness to the crispness of a nylon sleeping bag.
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