camping with toddlers

Camping With Toddlers – Ideas for A Great Outdoor Family Camp

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By Beta Dad | Last Updated: August 10th, 2017

Summer is here. We are all looking for things to pass the time and to make the most of the warm weather. We love doing things as a family.

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is going camping with our toddlers.

Now I’m not talking camp out in the kitchen, rainy day camping, I’m talking about full-fledged go on an outdoor trip. We love it and try to do it every summer.

We love it and try to do it every summer.

Ok, now, how do we do this? Yikes! This one is intimidating, to say the least. What do you take?  How much do you take and where do you go? Well, let’s break it down so that you can have as enjoyable an experience as the kids do.

P.S the top 5 essential tips for safe and enjoyable camp with the children are here at the end.  So keep reading.

 

WHERE DO YOU GO CAMPING WITH THE FAMILY?

lakeside tentsFirst, let’s start with where you are going to go. Do you want to do simple and just go to your backyard? This is an awesome choice if it’s your first time trying camping.

If you are lucky enough to have a good safe backyard, then do this. Grab a small pup tent and a small bar-b-cue grill and you are set. Just don’t forget the smores.

This is an especially easy way to give small kids the experience of camping while not making it too overwhelming to them. Sometimes, kids need ‘home’ when they are young. It’s okay to only camp until bedtime and then call it a night. They will love it.

CAMPING ACTIVITIES & IDEAS

kayak and tent setupIf you want to experience a real family camping experience, then take the time to ask everyone what they would like to do as activities on your camping trip. trust me on this.

A few of the activities that we have enjoyed in the past have been swimming in the lakes, kayaking or paddle boarding, zip lining, basketball, baseball, volleyball, rock climbing, playgrounds, and hiking.

Finding out what activities your family would like to do makes it so much easier to decide where you want to camp.

Finding out what activities your whole family would like to do makes it so much easier to decide where you want to camp, and allows you to create a plan ahead of time which is a must.

It can be too easy to meander when you get outdoors, I get that, but plan ahead for a much more productive and enjoyable trip.

canoe camp lakeside

After you have come up with the activities list, then think about how much time you want to spend. It can be from one night to a whole month away (the latter not for the faint hearted).

One of my favorite camping trips we went on was for a month. Memories were made that I will cherish forever.

One of my favorite camping trips we went on was for a month. Memories were made that I will cherish forever.

We like swimming the most, so it doesn’t matter where we go; it must include some sort of water.  There are lots of campgrounds across America that have swimming pools. Other campgrounds have creeks, rivers or lakes. The beach is also a choice you might want to try if you like the water.

There are lots of campgrounds across America that have swimming pools. Other campgrounds have creeks, rivers or lakes. The beach is also a choice you might want to try if you like the water.

 

OUTDOOR CAMPSITE DESTINATIONS

The destination is probably my favorite part of planning our camping trips.

My family gets really involved in this part, it’s where we have that healthy and energetic debate, haha.

the night sky with starsWe have our favorite place we go. It has primitive camping. You can stay in a tent with no electricity. We go there if we need to swim in a creek and catch minnows.

This kind of back-to-nature camping is what my kids that are younger prefer.

We catch lightening bugs at night and sit by the fire to tell stories and sing. If the campground is safe, this is so much fun. It’s simple and very affordable.

Most of my camping has been done in the Midwest, and it is an awesome place to go in the summer if you want to get back to nature. A few of places that we have enjoyed are Dawt Mill and several campgrounds around Branson, Missouri.

 

COMPROMISE CAMPING

great outdoors

Another kind of camping that really works well with kids is what I call compromise camping. We all compromise and everyone is happy. The older k

ids like sports, so we go to a campground that has RV spots, tent sites, and sometimes cabins with lots of amenities like basketball or tennis courts.

The older kids like to spend time online so, just to make the time more enjoyable for everyone, we try to take our longer camping trips to somewhere that has wifi.

Each day, we set aside time that it is okay to connect with the world. We have been known to run an extension cord to our tent for an X-box. Okay, that might sound a bit much, but we were there a month.

 

STATE PARKS ACROSS THE USA

Across the country, there are various kinds of campgrounds that you can find to suit your family’s choice of camping. The State and National parks are great choices. I always chose the ones with security.

So we have done the backyard, primitive and compromising.

Let’s talk beach. Texas has some awesome beaches that you can camp on.

The beaches at Mustang Island and Padre Island both have places to camp. What could be more fun than that, a bonfire on the beach with your family, cooking hot dogs, and feeling that sea breeze?

I highly recommend checking out GoCampAmerica.com as they have some excellent listings across the country, as well as the following video that covers 5 of the top park camping sites (which you may want to add to that bucket list!)

 

CAMP ACTIVITIES

Once you have chosen the place, it’s easy to decide what to take. Kids love simple things, and I think that is why camping is such a great thing to do with your kids. Everything is simple from what you wear to what you eat.

It can be mostly swimwear and shorts for primitive camping. But if you plan on sports of any kind take appropriate clothes for that. Also, call ahead, most campgrounds will provide equipment for the sports that you can enjoy while there.

 

CAMP FOOD FOR KIDS

The food is also easy. You can go simple and cook hot dogs over the fire (as well as marshmallows obviously – and these are the best).

If you have someone who enjoys cooking, open fire cooking is an awesome family campsiteexperience that a whole family can bond over while doing.

Lots of campgrounds are close enough to a town or city that you can even go get a pizza.

We eat a variety from hot dogs and smores to a full-blown breakfast with all the trimmings.

I have yet to go camping that one of the little kids did not request cereal for breakfast.

 

TOP 5 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR SAFE & HAPPY CAMPING WITH CHILDREN

1.Home Comforts: Pack their favorite toy or security item. An obvious one but don’t underestimate that familiar homely comfort they will get from these.  Better still, I recommend having a spare/back up toy or blanket, one that can be kept for such occasions.  I’ve lost count of how many Elmo’s we’ve seen come and go!  and how many have saved the night.

2. Wakey Wakey:  Have you considered how you are going to deal with a little one that wakes during the night, needs nursing or gets scared? Plan ahead for this.  This will also depend on the age of your little one but consider.

  • Do you have camp lights or head lamps at the ready?
  • Make sure camp fires and clutter are not a problem when you wake from slumber to attend to you child.
  • Is your camper, RV or car nearby?  make sure it is.  Sometimes a simple drive or the comfort of the car is a life save for you all.

3. The Mess:  Okay okay, this is kind of cheat right here.   LET THEM GET MUCKY & LET THEM EAT DIRT  (with the exception of infants obviously, for which you must ensure safe/sanitization).

This is all part of the fun, relax, don’t fight it and let it happen.  For the slightly older kids, just pack plenty of wipes (stand up wet wipe baths are what camping is all about) and stick them in a carrier (and retain for recycling).

4. Camping Gear For Kids:   Get them all prepared for action, they’ll love being kitted out like an action wilderness hero!

  • Natural Insect Repellent (A Must)
  • Head Lamp
  • Cargo Vest
  • POrtable Magnifying Glass
  • Kids Binoculars

5. Health & Safety:  Make sure you pack a first aid kit before you head off on your trip.   Make sure it includes,

  • Bandages & plasters
  • Gauze
  • String
  • Anti Septic
  • Sting & Bit treatment for insects, creepy crawlies, and plants
  • Scissors
  • Candies & Energy sweets

 

IN CONCLUSION – MAKE THE CAMP FUN!

Summertime, to me, means more family time. Things are a bit more laid back, and we seem to have more time to spend doing things together as a family.

outdoor family fun

Camping has become a yearly tradition for our family.

Each year is different, and I think that is why we keep looking forward to it.

Whether we make a long trip to the Mountains to rock climb and camp, go to the crystal-clear creeks to swim, or head to our own backyard, one thing never changes; we make it family fun.

We love spending time together camping, and I hope you will, too.

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