Monday, June 18, 2012

Tent Camping with Kids

Well, we safely arrived home from our first ever camping experience!  Ry and I have camped on our own together and  we both camped when we were younger, but this was the first time our entire family went camping (plus the dog)!  To make it even more exciting we camped in a tent!

Our setup - The lot was HUGE!

We decided to go to Hungry Horse Campground in Dorr.  This was the perfect choice for us.  The lots were huge, the pool and bathrooms were clean, there were woods all around, there were three different playgrounds, and there were activities for the kids on the weekend!  This campground was also close to our house so if we forgot something or things went terribly wrong we could zip home!

When you are tent camping with kids I have some suggestions to make things smoother.

  • Get a tent with a screened in front room and a separate room to sleep in.  We had one room with just mattresses and the front room with our clothes and supplies.  This worked out well because the front room was the one that caught most of the dirt from the kids!
  • Get air mattresses and bring at least two pumps that can plug in or be used with a car adapter
  • Bring sheets with the sleeping bags in case it is too hot to sleep in the bags
  • Bring a portable DVD player or laptop.  Ryan bulked at the idea because that is not truly roughing it and unlike our experiences as kids, but when it is two hours past the kids' bedtimes and you don't want kids running around the campfire with the adults it is nice to turn on a movie to keep the kids in the tent to calm them down and possibly lull them to sleep.  Plus, many campgrounds now have free wifi so you may even have access to Netflix!
  • Bring a fan.  Even if it isn't terribly hot at night, it is nice to have the white noise.
  • Invest in a screen room to put over the picnic table.  It is worth spending a bit of money for it.  The higher the cost, the easier and faster it goes up and the more likely it does what it says it will do.  I made the mistake of getting a cheap one and we spent more time putting up the stupid small screen then we did the tent itself!
  • Bring a first aid kid - within the first five minutes we had bloody knees!
  • Bring plastic bags so the kids can collect "treasures".
  • I made up a nature scavenger hunt for the kids before we went camping.  When Ry and I were cleaning everything and packing it all up I gave the children each their scavenger hunt with instructions.  This kept them busy for the time it took us to pack the car!
  • If you have young children it may be a good idea to get a portable potty for the middle of the night.  You never know how far away the bathrooms may be!
  • I gave each child their own little lantern.  They were super cheap, but gave off great light!
  • Don't get all fancy with food.  We had cereal bars, muffins I made before we left, and cereal for breakfast.  For lunch we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Our snacks consisted of things that didn't have to be refrigerated like beef jerky, trail mix, and fruits.  For dinners we did hot dogs one night and hamburgers the next.  The least amount of things that required work to make the better!
  • We brought all paper and plastic plates, bowls, cups, and silverware.  That way I didn't have to heat water to wash it all and things were cleaned up in a snap!
  • Baby wet wipes and Clorox wipes were very handy!
  • I brought a huge jug filled with water and ice.  I set that out on a fold-able table and gave each child their own water bottle.  This way they had a place to set their bottle and refill it without too much bother.  There was always plenty of water for everyone!
  • Simple outdoor games like wiffle ball, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles were hits with us.  My kids love to gather bugs so we also brought nets and pails which were great for the tadpoles and frogs they caught!
  • We also brought a few card games in case of rain
  • We brought a fold-able laundry basket to put all of our dirty towels and clothes in.  I also had a clothes line for our wet things from the pool.
Our preparations paid off and we had a great time!  The kids can't wait to go back again and it wasn't too much work for us and we also had fun!  

If you have more suggestions let me know because I am always looking to make things easier and more fun!
Swimming in the pool

Tyce was in heaven!  He caught tadpoles and frogs!

The kids tie-dyed shirts!

The finished shirts!  I guess Tucker wanted in on the picture too!

Summer fun isn't complete without ice cream!

A wagon ride!

The kids fed horses


Yummy smores!