Prior to having kids, my husband and I were bonified bushwhacking, nature-loving, camping enthusiasts. Every year we would bank our holidays for summer, reserving at least 2-3 weeks of vacation time where we would get lost in the great outdoors, exploring the supernatural beauty of British Columbia.
All our incredible adventures abruptly came to a stand-still when we got pregnant with our first child. We had these dreams of having this perfect little family of nature lovers. We would be dressed up in our matching flannel, cozy around a campfire, while my husband would strum his guitar playing our favourite country songs. Or, we would be one of those Instagram perfect families, all holding hands while jumping into an untouched glacier green lake. The reality is that camping with small children isn’t all that easy. Evenings are not spent sipping on beer singing songs. They are spent trying shower your filthy, dirt-covered kids before bed. And the other reality is that that glacier green lake is bloody cold, too cold for little kids.
After six years of marriage and a beautiful baby boy, we decided it was time to get back to doing what we loved, camping! This time around, however, we needed to up our game. We, therefore, purchased the Expedition 2.0 from Off Grid. This ultimate camping trailer would allow us to go where we like to go, but feel protected, and have all the comforts of home in a compact, teardrop style trailer. What we soon learned when we returned to the bush with our toddler, is that you need to be prepared when camping with kids. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure your kids have a blast in the great outdoors and that you as parents do as well!
Layers Are Key
Summer days can be hot, and summer evenings and nights can be down-right cool, especially at higher elevations. Be sure to pack lots of layers for your little one that can be stripped on or off as needs require. For cold-weather camping, layer your kids for sleep the same way you would if you were hiking. Start with a wicking layer (wool, polyester, silk, or bamboo), add a warming layer (heavier wool or fleece), and then the sleeping bag or blanket acts as your outermost layer. Don’t forget a beanie and wool socks. Your little one will be snug as a bug.
Don’t Skip Their Nap
While camping, your little ones might be a little overstimulated by their new environment and want to skip their naps. Try to avoid this and stick to their home routine. This will help avoid that 5 pm witching time, where your toddler will start to lose the his or her mind. It will also give you as parents some time to relax, crack a beer, hang a hammock, and open that book you brought with you.
Days while camping are long. Often kids are like roosters, up at dawn, which means you have to be strategic about how you can keep them entertained!
Bring some dirt-friendly toys for babies and toddlers. For older kids, nature gear like a magnifying glass, or binoculars will get them engaged and immersed in their surroundings. Spend lots of time by the water. Kids will dig and swim for hours!
If its raining and you are running out of options, there is no shame in pulling out your laptop or tablet and putting on a movie or show. We can only handle so much as parents!
Don’t Let The Bugs Bite
You never know if your camp is going to be invaded by mosquitos or noseeums, so be prepared! Bring your favourite deet-free, child safe bug stray to stop your kids from being eaten alive! As well, throw in some After bite just in case.
Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks
My son will go from being totally fine to a crazy hangry maniac. Avoid these hungry meltdowns by bringing lots of snacks.
Bring items that don’t need to be refrigerated like protein bars, crackers, fruit pouches, or trail mix.
Make Meals Fun
Cooking as a family over a fire is fun, and it creates lasting memories. Meals such as hot dogs, tin foil roasted potatoes, and S’ mores are easy to prepare and will keep the kids happy. For a breakfast option that will impress the family, try cinnamon toast on a stick.
• 1 package of refrigerated crescent rolls
• Long barbecue skewers
Unroll and separate the dough. Wrap each section around the end of a skewer, winding them down diagonally. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and cook over the campfire for 5 minutes. Rotate frequently until the inside is fully cooked.
Remember that camping is supposed to be fun! If the kids are driving you crazy, you aren’t getting any sleep, and you are just downright overwhelmed, it’s ok to go home. It takes time to find your groove and get your family used to a routine away from home!