Camping With Toddlers and Young Children

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 17, 2013

I’ve been plotting and dreaming about everything I want to do this summer, as you can surely tell from recent posts. Yes, there will be gardening and many home improvements but there will also be plenty of family time too. Since we’ve decided that a staycation is the right choice for us this year, I’ve started planning our holidays and am getting really excited about taking our toddler out camping.

Camping packing lists and camping recipes abound on the web so I won’t bore you with those details. Instead, here some practical tips for taking your youngsters out camping.

Prepare them. Talk it up. Read books about camping. Show your little ones photos of your past camping trips. Let them go with you to buy their sleeping bag. Older kids can help with menu planning and packing. If you’ve never taken your kids out camping before, you might want to start with a camping party in the living room or backyard, just to get them used to the idea. You can pitch a tent or set up your sleeping bags in the fort, tree house or play house that you’ve built. Backyard camping can be as simple or elaborate as you and your children want it to be but the best part, in my opinion, is that you still have access to your recently remodeled bathroom when nature calls at 2:00 am.

Prepare yourself. This won’t be camping like it was without kids, so don’t expect things to go exactly as planned. Do as much ahead of time as you can so that your attention is on the kids instead of on logistics at the site. Meal plan. Prepare meals ahead of time. Organize items in your backpack into small clear bags that can be easily taken out by small hands. Camping with kids is lots of fun, as long as you’re well prepared.

Enjoy yourselves! Enjoy short hikes, swimming and exploring. Have a campfire. Let your kids get dirty. Bring some games that everyone can play together. Prepare a nature treasure hunt. Have a few rainy day backup ideas. Give you kids small responsibilities around camp so they feel they’re part of the team.

My favorite tip of all: for toddlers and young children, mark the perimeter of your campsite with orange marking tape or string to show them the boundaries of their play area. This way, they don’t wander off while exploring or ramble into a patch of poison ivy while you prepare dinner.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely a bit of a home improvement junkie like me. And like me, you might also need to take a break from all those home remodeling projects and recharge your batteries. A family camping trip in the backyard, or the backcountry, might be just what the contractor ordered.

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