I thought I would offer some hopefully helpful advice if your thinking about camping with your little kids and possibly a baby thrown in the mix. First off, don’t be scared because I was, and it turned out to be SO much fun. But remember to TRY and have fun because if you’re not, then what’s the point? If your kids aren’t having a good time, mom and dad aren’t having a good time right? But also remember, if it doesn’t turn out to be so “magical,” don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe wait another year or two. There’s no rush. Or try the backyard. Some kids love still being close by so they can run inside the house to grab something and then running back outside to play in the tent.
Food preparation is always a big deal when we go on any trip for us. Especially if you are going somewhere where you will making meals, not just packing snacks. So there are two different types of options for cooking and camping which are 1. using a stove, or 2. using the fire. If you are in the market to buy a stove and prefer to do that, this Coleman Classic Propane Stove is such a great product at a reasonable price. Includes two independent burners with separate adjustable temperature gages for cooking different things. Great for hot dogs, hamburgers, anything you would typically grill at home in your backyard or kitchen.
Now if you want to take is a step further, you can try the foil dinners. I actually attended a little Test Kitchen for learning about camp foil dinners at church a couple years ago and came home with a packet full of ideas. I can share a couple here and if you are interested in more ideas just message me and I can post more. Just some quick tips before I share a couple recipes: Use heavy duty aluminum foil, place shiny side in, spray with non-stick spray to prevent sticking. You can either pre cook the meat ahead of time and wrap it up with the other veggies or starches and throw it in your cooler to go, or, marinate raw meat in a freezer bag separately and pack it all together when are there and ready to cook.
Traditional Foil Dinner: Place thin hamburger patty in center of foil. Add thinly sliced carrots, potatoes cubes, and rings of onion, salt and pepper to taste, and wrap. Sprinkle with grated cheese just before serving
Ranch Chicken: Dip one boneless, skinless chicken breast in melted butter then in 1 packet Ranch dressing mixed with 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs and 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, place on foil. Add sliced strips squash and bell peppers, wrap. Sprinkle with grated cheese just before serving. (Note: one packet dressing mixed as above will coat 4-6 chicken breasts.)
Glazed Ham: Place one carrot thinly sliced or cut into julienne strips on foil. Salt and Pepper to taste. Place 1/2-inch slice of ham on top carrots. Place a slice of pineapple on ham. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey, wrap. Try substituting sliced sweet potatoes for the carrot.
Camp By Water
Ok if you REALLY want to have a good time I totally suggest finding a camping spot by some sort of water to play in. Now if you are camping in the winter time, A. It is unnecessary because it will be too cold, and B. You are brave. But seriously people, even if you have to hike a bit, it makes for some of the best memories. They don’t even have to be big swimmers necessarily but something about being near a lake, running creek, waterfall, or river and exploring around it in pure nature makes the trip totally worth it. My kids literally love water so much they will hike a mile there and back uphill one way just to get to it.
Bring Bikes or Scooters
If you have room in the car or bike racks try to bring bikes or scooters for the kids to ride around the campsite. Sometimes there are paths or just fun places to explore on wheels. Just gives them another activity to do during some downtime or while your making dinner. But if you don’t have space hiking around and exploring is something they will naturally be doing anyways and can be just as fun.
Bring A Chair or Pack N Play for Baby
If you have the option and space to bring a Pack N Play by all means Pack it up and try it out, if you have a big enough tent. Which is what we do. But another option if your baby is this Fold N Go Travel Bassinet by Brica for $34.99. Seems like a great product that is portable and easy to pack. Also useful for bringing over to family’s and friend’s houses, the park, ya know, those kinds of places. If baby likes to sit up and hangout while people are playing games or cooking try the BabyBjorn Bouncer. Super lightweight and folds completely flat.
Go On A Scavenger Hunt
While one parent makes breakfast the other goes on a scavenger hunt with the kids. Search “camping scavenger hunt,” on pinterest and you will get plenty of options to print out before you go that include plenty of pictures. We bring a bag and collect everything they find. From spiders, to cobwebs, to sticks that look like the letter “Y,” or two similar rocks. Our kids look forward to this little tradition every time we go camping. Just just try to change the lists every time to mix it up. Or bring multiple lists.
Just remember to relax. Once you get there set your kids free! Because if they aren’t having fun, you’re not having fun. If it’s a place that might have poison ivy, then just be sure to scope it out and warn to stay away from it. Camping trips are for exploring, playing, and getting a little dirty along the way. So be sure to loosen up live a little.
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