Camping With Kids

I need advice!  This Labor Day weekend we will be camping with our kids at a huge gathering out on my uncle’s property.  It’s tons of family and friends, ATVs, a fire, scrabble games and drinking.  We went last year and did okay but I’d love to hear some tips from Mother Talkers.
We are planning on sleeping the kids in the back of the minivan and we will get an air mattress and sleep in the tent.  We are doing really simple foods and packing everything in rubbermaid bins so that it can be stored outside the van.  I’m nervous about the toddler, last year we had her in the tent with us in the pack n play but this year she’d climb out.  I’m a little worried she’ll wander off when we think she’s sleeping.  The activity at night is within view but not near where we’ll be set up.
Any advice?


48 thoughts on “Camping With Kids

  1. we’ve camped with ALL ages

    from 2 months to age 13 and everything in between. They go to bed early and are up early. It’s a really good idea to have projects like making a bug jar or paints for rocks. It’s not hard to get bored. Books are good. Music and stuff if they aren’t used to quiet. When Lily was a toddler we just let her get dirty and didn’t stress about it. We also camp near a beach so that takes up a BUNCH of time… I wouldn’t discount a few road trips for ice cream just for a change of scenery.

  2. marshmallows.

    Lots of them. They can spend hours hunting for the perfect marshmallow stick.

    Keep the toddler in the tent with you. You can even booby trap the entrance so she has to make lots of noise in order to get out. :) I had to do this with a friend that sleepwalks when we were camping in the outback. I wasn’t risking her wandering off!

    You’ll have a great time. I love camping with kids.

      • She is

        oy.  It’s such a huge area with lots of people camping she has room to wander but it’s 24 wooded acres so we really have to be on it watching her.

        • attach

          bells to her shoes or something! She is gonna freak out with the freedom to roam. Or, put a leash on her and let Ellie walk her around like a puppy! Speaking of, is Kerewin going?

          • You are cracking me up!

            My mom said they used to have a harness for her little brother.  It wasn’t considered unusual back them I guess.   Too bad she didn’t save it for me!

            • Remember

              that Michael Meyers sketch when he was tied to the jungle gym???  That’s exactly what I need to do with her.  We kept Kerewin tied to the van a lot of the time last year, mostly because of other dogs.  She could have company this year!

              • Excellent idea

                Just have maybe a kiddie pool, a chair, a snack table, and bubbles or something within the perimeter (radius? math.ack.) of her rope!

            • Airport

              I saw lots of kids with these cute little monkey backpacks that were actually leashed harnesses. Ziva would look too cute with one of those!

              • You know

                this Target boycott is killing me!  I had to go to Dick’s for an air mattress and then Costco for rubbermaid containers.  Now I’ll have to look at Babies r Us for the leash!

                  • IDK

                    that’s making me crazy, wondering when we go back.  I’m chatting about this on Blogher right now.  Somebody wrote a thing that basically said that you shouldn’t boycott Target unless you’re willing to research every single corporation that gets your money.  Ridiculous really, I think it’s an excuse so she doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by boycotts.

                    • It helps that

                      I know they supported the guy because of his business position, not his position on gay rights.  I hope they will be more careful in the future.  I’m thinking I can give up the boycott now but I’m just not sure yet.  They’ve lost a couple hundred dollars from me so far, maybe that’s enough.

                    • The bigger picture

                      is holding their feet to the fire so that other corporations decide it’s not a good idea to start their money into elections. It’s a back door way of mitigating the effects of the Citizens United ruling. I’m not going back until tells me to. :-)

                    • do you think they will?

                      Give us an all clear or something? So far, it seems like the incident is kind of over with no good resolution after the talks with HRC broke down. I wonder if it’s even on Target’s radar anymore.

                  • I know!!

                    I’m hoping we can go back before the adorable shoes I saw for DD go out of stock. In good news, I’m saving tons of money not buying things I really don’t need. Not as big a temptation at the Target substitute stores like Walgreens and the grocery store. I never end up with a couple of t-shirts for myself, a belt, clothes for DD, or new dinnerware when I really only need kitty litter while shopping at Walgreens. Sure, the kitty litter may be $1 more, but I think I end up saving $75 per trip!

    • zipper at the top, too

      Make it out of reach so she can’t unzip the tent on her own and wander out.  That worked reasonably well with our escape artist.

  3. Decide who’s in charge of the kids

    and communicate it.   Make one of you “on duty” and the other able to party it up….then trade off the next night.   When there are a lot of people around at a family function it’s often assumed that everyone is watching the kids when no one is watching the kids.  

    I’d look into renting a trailer or a huge tent so you could all stay together – the ventilation in a closed up car will be awful and if you leave the windows open the kids will be eaten by bugs.    

    • sleeping in the car-

      years ago we went camping and i forgot how small the tent was, so my son and stepson slept in the car.

      it was hell for them- well for my stepson anyway- because my son’s feet smelled so bad they needed the window open, but then the open window meant the bugs came in.  you’d think the stench would have kept them out, but no.

    • so true

      When there are a lot of people around at a family function it’s often assumed that everyone is watching the kids when no one is watching the kids.  

    • Good point

      my mom got a camper so the girls will be able to stay in there and we’ll sleep in the tent with Ziva.  Love the idea of boobytrapping it!!

  4. some of our

    best memories with the kids are the camping trips we have taken throughout their lives.

    If you have bikes and a way to transport them, bikes are awesome when camping.

    Ditto on keeping the little one with you at night.

    Board games, cards, Uno, etc.  I always loved having time with the kids that was unplugged.  

    Ghost stories for the campfire can be fun, you can probably google some, and pick the least scary.

    A family size tent may also be good if you can swing it.

    We always had certain foods we bought for camping besides s’mores.  Like Goober Grape PB&J, red vines, etc.  

    Extra blankets for snuggling around the campfire, and some comfy camping chairs.  We also have a canvas hammock that we bring and string up between trees.  SO relaxing!

    Have a great time!!  DH and I are headed camping this weekend for our anniversary, just the two of us.  

      • definitely

        make sure you have lots of snacks–I’m always surprised by how much mine eat while we’re camping, even my youngest who usually eats so little.  They burn up a lot of energy so they’re always starving.

        Also, give each kid a flashlight of her own (you can get really cheap ones at a discount store).  Keeps them from hogging or scrapping about them.

        • Oh, I forgot

          GLOWSTICKS, or glow necklaces/bracelets.  Every year when we go camping with my sister-in-law and her brood, I bring tons of glowy stuff for the kids.  It makes it so much easier to keep track of them at night!  Our kids wear them when we go to Fourth of July fireworks also–again, the visibility is a huge help and they just think it’s fun.  (Watch out for leaks, though, especially if they end up wearing them to bed.)

          • oh, by the way

            try Michaels for this–I got packs of 15 bracelets for a buck or two there!  Dollar stores are also great for this, or whatever the Ohio equivalent of Ocean State Job Lot might be (do you have Big Lots?).

            • Yes

              I was thinking Big Lots for a bunch of cheap flashlights as well.  There are lots of little kids so I like to bring extras of everything.

            • Apparently they are just filled with

              phosphates, like you find in detergents. Not a super happy thing but not really dangerous. My friends used to give their oldest boy a glow bracelet every night as a sort of “nightlight”. One day as he was turning and twisting it, it busted and he got it all in his eyes and on his face. Kid starts screaming! Dad bursts in and sees kid’s face covered in glowing ooze and then scoops him up and runs him screaming down the hall to the bathroom. Mom meanwhile cannot figure out WHAT is going on because in the well illuminated hall she cannot see the glow residue.

              • Ok, that’s hilarious

                That needs to be a scene on tv or something. Avery bit through one that she had squirreled away in her bed, and when she started crying and I ran in it was quite a surprise!

  5. How fun!

    These are great tips — we’re off to go camping with another couple and their kids soon, and we’re all really excited. DH and I haven’t gone camping since we went at Death Valley about 10 years ago.

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