We recently finished up a three-night camping trip. We didn’t really “rough it,” we did it in a camper van! Personally, it had been over 20 years since I last camped. Therefore, I obviously never have been camping with a child before this trip. I learned a few things from the experience that might benefit another person or two, so here goes!
Camping with a child
#1 Know the concussion protocol
My child bonked her head more times than I can count so I was thankful I knew the concussion protocol. I highly recommend it for all, not just when camping. Small kids are completely like Bambi when he was first born – – complete klutzes!
#2 Essential oils make great insect repellent
Have you ever read the labels on some of the insect repellents at the store? There are some scary warnings and strange words. I am not an essential oils gal but I may just become one after the amazing roll-on insect repellent I purchased from This Butter Be Good! It did an outstanding job of keeping us relatively bite-free and lasted through a lot of sweating while we hiked through the woods.
#3 Raccoons are jerks
I really need to get a video of W. telling the story of the raccoon, it is priceless! That being said, raccoons are jerks and they will stop at nothing to get your food and refuse. Our interaction involved the critter leaving the woods, approaching our campsite, stealing an apple core, and then scurrying back to safety. He was within 3-feet of me!
After he finished his apple core appetizer, he ventured over to another campsite north of us to attempt to sample their main course. It was hilarious to watch a grown man cussing and fussing at a raccoon while throwing canned food at it. He may have said a few things that would not be appropriate for camping with a child, just saying.
So, always secure your food and debris. Make sure it is stowed in raccoon-proof containers. Also, always ensure that trash is cleaned up and placed in lidded and secure vessels. P.S. squirrels are just as bad!
#4 Bring a hammock
Our hammock was the BEST $20 we spent. We practically lived in it during our trip. It also doubles as a swing for a child (this may have also resulted in my use of the concussion protocol).
#5 Get meal prep advice
Not to steal the thunder from #6 but I wish I had asked the innocent question of what to eat a heck of a lot sooner! Our friends and family gave us some yummy sounding advice!
Personally, we kept it simple for our first adventure: hot dogs, quesadillas, ham & cheese roll-ups, and good ol’ peanut butter & jelly. Well, and of course, S’mores! Here were some of the suggestions we got that we will do the next time:
- Bacon – perfect to prep the pan to make eggs and it is just dang tasty.
- Walking tacos – a bag of Doritos or Frito’s and add in taco fixings, which can be stored in other bags and re-purposed for other meals.
- Hobo meal – meat and veggies in a foil pouch and place in the coals/core of the fire. Rotate for even cooking and cook for 20-30 minutes.
- Potatoes – cook them in the coals of the fire. Great for dinner with the fixings from the walking tacos. Add the leftovers to the bacon grease the next morning for home-fries with those tasty eggs & bacon!
- Breakfast burritos – make them ahead of time, wrap them in foil for storage, and then re-heat in the coals.
#6 Don’t wait to the last minute
As I said above, don’t wait until the last minute to get some advice from those that have gone before you. No need to be a trailblazer or run around like a chicken with your head cut off the day before while trying to get ready! Trust me, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Camping trips require a fair amount of planning if you haven’t done it before (or it has been a while). You’ll need some gear that you don’t necessarily have laying around the house. Furthermore, if you don’t rent a van from 828CamperVanRentals you may also not have some items either.
#7 Be prepared
Be prepared but not over-prepared. For example, extra socks and shoes are a great idea. Especially when you fall in a creek to prevent your 4-year-old from falling in the creek (which she did the following day). However, you don’t need five extra pairs of shoes. That just over-fills the limited space!
Here is a list of items that I wish I had taken:
- Coleman Camp Cooker
- A second hammock (I would prefer to not have feet in my face…)
- Cast iron skillet
- Plastic baggies
- Portable reading light
- Homemade fire-starter
Oh, how I wish I had taken that last one. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to start a campfire with the “helpful” encouragement of a child. One of my family members suggested that next time I take some old toilet paper rolls, stuff them with dryer lint, and seal with wax to make a homemade fire-starter!
#8 Have fun!
This one is important! Otherwise, why did you do the rest of the stuff to prepare, take the trip, and then clean up afterward? Let loose, lower your expectations, and just be “chill.”
Leave the stress at the entrance of the campground (or where ever you are boondocking) and just go with the flow. The moments that I will remember the most from our trip happened organically without a plan. Yes, some planning is essential when you are camping with a child so you don’t starve or die of dehydration but every moment of the day doesn’t have to be set in stone.
The looks of joy and amazement I saw on my daughter’s face were well worth the effort it took for me to let myself just be in the moment.
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.Ellen Parr
That’s a wrap!
I hope you have picked up a helpful tip or two for camping with a child or even just by yourself! Or, at least had a laugh at our adventures. If you would like to plan your own adventure check out my camping kit to get you started!