What’s up, MING fans? I have returned from my writing sabbatical that was caused by my wife producing another human. Speaking of new humans, I took him and the rest of my family camping in Gettysburg, PA. Camping is an activity that gives us a chance to become one with nature, recharge our battery, and separate us from reality. Although it is therapeutic for adults, it is also beneficial for kids as well. Today I share my experience and give tips on how to survive a camping trip with small children.
What You Need
Having a plan is crucial when it comes to family camping. It is no longer just you or your significant other. Back then you could just pack a small bag, a cloth, a tent, some food, some toiletries and out the door you went. Now that you have a family, the game has changed. Having a plan is key to having a fun camping experience.
Have a camper, not a tent
Before you do anything, understand one thing. DO NOT USE A TENT WITH SMALL CHILDREN! This will not end well. Think about it, do you want your children sleeping on the cold hard ground? Do you want your child’s first camping experience to be uncomfortable as fuck? Small children need all the sleep they can get, and a tent will not provide that for them. I invested in a pop-up camper two years and do not regret the decision. Of course, you will catch hell from your buddies about how you are “Glamping” and aren’t roughing it. Those friends more than likely do not have kids so ignore that. A pop-up is a hardened tent, and the canvas for the beds are the same material. They also come with heating and AC. Your kids will appreciate it.
Toys, toys, toys
Camping can be a lot of fun, but there will be moments of boredom. Parents understand how important it is to keep your small children occupied and know that it is not that simple. We also know that we can’t be doing around the clock activities. Toys are a must. You do not have to bring their best toys. Hell, you do not even have to bring the B squad. My wife and I always bring a small amount to keep our daughter occupied in times we need her to so that she doesn’t get under our feet or get into stuff she isn’t supposed to. We will do the same for our son when he is old enough. If you go with a group, you may need to bring fewer toys or none at all.
We all know that you need food for camping. I’m not going to hold your hand by stating the obvious. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a no-brainer. Sometimes, it won’t be enough. If you are into doing activities other than sitting by the fire and drinking, you or your offspring are going to work up an appetite. It doesn’t matter if you eat healthily or eat junk when camping just bring them. Throw in the occasional sweet treats as well. You want your kid’s morale to be high. We always bring a mixture of healthy and not so healthy snacks. I always deviate from my healthy eating when I go camping. Healthy eating isn’t ideal when you need the calories to sustain yourself.
If you are camping with an infant, I will advise that you bring something from home that will ensure your infant is comfortable. First, pack the portable crib (Rock N’ Play or Pack N’ Play). You do not want to deviate much from his or her routine. Next, a baby carrier of some sort. This comes in handy when you have an infant that cries a lot and needs soothing, but you don’t want to hold them the entire time. Lastly, a stroller is a nice thing to have but one that is built for trails and gravel.
First Aid Kit
Kids are like little, drunk adults. They are clumsy, they say a bunch of rude shit, and they tend to vomit and poop themselves. As parents, we arm ourselves with wipes, burp cloths, diapers, and extra clothes. What some of us usually forget is that our children have a knack for hurting themselves. At home, an ER is not too far from us. In the woods, things are a little different. You may have to quickly patch them up before you go to the nearest hospital or clinic. You are going to need to bring a first aid kit, and you need to know how to use it. I would suggest taking a CPR/First responder course. I would also recommend bringing an Epi-Pen. You never know if you or your little one has an allergic reaction to bees.
Bugs are annoying and can ruin a good camping experience. Stock up on repellent of some sort. Sprays, candles, or home remedies can keep those pesky critters away from you and your little ones. Another way of repelling insects is to avoid attracting them. Bees love our food so dispose of your food waste properly. Ants do too so be mindful of them. Mosquitos are unavoidable. I know there is a back and forth on whether DEET is harmful or not. For me, I prefer going chemical free when I can. My Editor-in-Chief here just turned me onto a product called La Fresh. He says it works amazingly, so I’m going to give it a shot and let you guys know how it goes.
A Can-Do Attitude
Some parents go camping with their kids because they want their kids to either have the experience they did growing up or give their kids the chance to experience something they didn’t. Those parents need to keep it up because they are doing it right. However, some parents take their kids’ camping because they feel obligated. These assholes exist, and it ends up being a unenjoyable experience for everyone. Do not go camping for the wrong reasons such as only going to get social media likes.
I know that not all of us are morning people and are a little grouchy if we do not get a good night’s sleep. The best thing you can do is drink some coffee, eat a good breakfast, do some pushups or go for a light jog (It’s what I do). You do not want your kids growing up thinking my mom and dad only went camping so they can get Instagram followers.
Camping with kids comes down to one simple statement; be prepared! Check back in tomorrow for more tips on camping with a family!