Friday, June 4, 2010

Tips for Camping with Kids

If you have not gone camping with your kids and are planning to there are some things you should know before you actually go.  If you are looking for a checklist of things to bring this isn't going to be it.  This is more of a 'Lets make memories to last a lifetime' type list.

1. If you can, get a group site.  This is especially nice if you have lots of kids.  You can get sites next to each other, but a group site is usually set apart from the other sites.  It also has more amenities: several picnic tables, one huge bbq instead of 2 or 3 small ones, its one bathroom often times and usually its own parking area.  You will have more privacy and less chance your noisy kids will disturb someone else's vacation.

2. If you are able, get a hand-held video camera.  Lots of phones today have video capabilities as well.  You will need instant access and something that is easy to store.  You will take lots of videos, I know.  You will take video of your baby eating dirt, and videos of your kids splashing in a creek and video of finding snow in summer and video of skunks in your camp site.  You will have video you can keep forever.

3. Leave the electronics at home. Camping is about nature and bonding and learning and not about sticking your nose in your GBA.  You can't hear the birds singing if your ears are plugged with your mp3 player.  You can't see the squirrels that run up on your picnic table if you are busy playing bewjewled on your laptop.  You can't use your imagination to tell stories around the campfire if you have your portable dvd player on your lap.  I know its scary, but you can do it.

4. Be flexible.  Have plans but leave it open so if you can't go or don't want to its not such a big deal.  Find things to do outside the campground if your kids get bored but don't be disappointed if your kids just want to play on the campground.  Road closures happen, so have back up plans.  Camping gets rained out, kids get sick, emergencies happen.  So just remember if you have to change your plans its no big deal.

5. Be prepared. If you know you will need 3 days worth of clothes, take 6.  You need meals for 10 people?  Bring meals for 20.  Not planning on doing laundry?  Bring some quarters. If it can happen while you are camping its gonna happen.  You are camping with kids.  Kids.  You know the things that destroy your house and eat you out of house and home?  Yea them.  They will get muddy and dirty and eat everything because camping is hard work.  Bring more of everything.  Better to have what you might need that not have what you do need. I think that makes sense. 

6. Last but not least.  Start early.  I don't mean in the day, although that's helpful too.  No, start camping when your children are young.  Just like taking them to a restaurant, to a store or anywhere. If you expect them to do well you need to put them in the situation.  The early you do this the easier it will be.  Don't put it off till your youngest is older thinking it will be easier, all you are doing is depriving everyone of the enjoyment that is keeping.  Disclaimer -  I learned this one the hard way.  Probably the best advice, or only advice, my father in law ever gave me.  Should have listened. 

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