Top 10 tips for camping with kids

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1.  Do a practice run
A child’s first camping trip (or an adult’s first camping trip with kids) is an exciting, nervous and sometimes overwhelming thing.  Don’t drive for hours to find just out that your little one has a hard time sleeping in a tent and is up all night.  Do a few practice runs in the backyard (or a close KOA) so that your kids know a little of what to expect.  Not only will this make them more comfortable, it will give you a heads up on what to plan for

2.  Keep it simple
Don’t over schedule your trip.  Planning one or two things a day will usually suffice.  Trying to do too much can easily overwhelm everyone.

3.  Just let them play
Remember that this is camping after all.  Plan lots of downtime in your day so that your kids can just enjoy being outside.  We find that when we’re camping our kids require very few things to make them happy.  Usually rocks, sticks and dirt suffice and if there’s water, they’d be happy for weeks!  A few toys that are great to have in the camping arsenal are buckets, shovels, Frisbees, and balls.

4.  Don’t stress
Camping with kids almost never goes exactly as planned – relax.  Remember that most of this is new to them and they’re discovering new things all around them.  Go with it.  Remember, your attitude will rub off on your kids and if you’re excited about it, they will be too.

5.  Keep them warm
Even though it might be the middle of summer, you need to plan on packing warm clothes.  We always bring hats, jackets, and warm PJ’s, and raingear for everyone.  Trust me, no kid’s going to enjoy camping if they’re freezing (meaning you probably won’t enjoy it either).

6.  Make it fun
Remember that you are camping with your kids, not your buddies from college.  Plan things that they will enjoy.  Take them on a geocaching “treasure hunt”, skip rocks, start a campfire and roast marshmallows, tell stories, bird watch, catch bugs…as long as it’s fun!

7.  Get a decent sleeping bag
Although a Mickey Mouse sleeping bag is great for Grandma’s, that’s probably where you should leave it.  It’s no fun to wake up at 2am to a shivering kid.  Get them a decent sleeping bag that will keep them warm.  You can pick up 30 degree bag at discount stores for around $30.  Oh, and make sure you have one for you too!

8.  Bring some friends
Invite another family or two to join in the fun.  The more the merrier is usually our motto when we camp.  It’s a great way to simplify things because you can share food, supplies, and ideas.  And most of the time the kids just end up entertaining each other, taking the stress off of you.

9.  Pack the night before
Most of our camping adventures start when Andrew gets off of work.  To take the stress off of me during the day, we try and have most of the packing done the night before (without kids) so that I can enjoy the day instead of being on the verge of losing my mind (yep, packing + kids =high stress)

10.  Don’t give up
Like most things, getting the hang of camping with kids takes time.  You couldn’t just pick up a basketball for the first time and expect to join the NBA, so don’t expect similar results from camping.  Your first few trips with your kids may be a little rocky, but each time you go, you learn something that will make your next trip better.  It’s worth it…TRUST US!

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