I have surprisingly received this question a LOT over the past few weeks. Maybe it was because I mentioned it here and in the column about how much fun we had? And the fact that it is me we are talking about, and people are generally shocked when I walk outside to check the mail. Camping with kids is not as big of a challenge as I expected, and I would guess that more families than not have braved it a few times. So, since I am a total camping novice, this post may not be very helpful. But it gives me an excuse to post pictures from the trip :)
Camp with Fellow Parents.
I think what made this trip the easiest for us was the fact that we went with an UH_MAZE_ING family, the Hatfields, whom are brilliant in all things hiking/camping/being awesome. They also have three kids, so each kid had a playmate (see below), and they totally get the 5,000 bathroom breaks, boys peeing on trees, etc.
|Townsend and Titus|
|Eden and Ramey|
|August and Jonas|
If someone falls, "needs" more marshmallows, or another bug spray application, they were there to help happily. They. Just. Get. It. This in itself made me a thousand times more relaxed. I didn't have to worry that my children were disturbing anyone. We were all there to have a good time. And we totally did.
Utilize Your Gear.
As you all know, I tote around a double stroller, umbrella stroller, backpack carrier, shopping cart cover, etc all the time in the van. I removed the double stroller for this trip, but took along a pack and play, a space saver high chair, and the backpack carrier. I used ALL of these on this trip. It may take up a little extra space on the way up, but for me, it was worth it.
|Who knew the Dark Knight eats tuna and crackers?|
Keep Em Up. Late.
We went camping with kids (or "kid" I guess) for the first time with Eden was 11 months old, the same age Titus was on this trip. She HATED it. She cried and cried, never slept great in a pack and play anyways, and we almost debated leaving that night. One of the many reasons we were gun shy about camping with kids again. So, we decided this go around to let the kids stay up later than normal bedtime and basically wear themselves out. Hey. It is vacation. And it worked like a charm.
The Family Tent.
This was the most popular question, the sleeping arrangement. We purchased an 8 man family tent before the trip (it turned out to be junk--I will not mention the brand) and we staggered the kids between myself and Brandon. We also could have used another air mattress, something we will invest in before another trip. But, left to right, it was Eden on her princess mattress, Brandon on his sleep mat, August and I on an air mattress, and Titus in the pack and play with a blanket draped on one side (so he couldn't see the other kids and be tempted to want to get out). Eden and August are already roomies at home, so I think that helped with the "sleeping in the same area" situation. We all went to bed at the same time and the kids went right to sleep. Trust me, I thanked God every second. I was so surprised it went as well as it did that night! (And yes, August is holding Pup Pup in that picture. Did you actually think he would leave home without it?)
Always Have a Plan.
As I mentioned above, Quinna is a very prepared mom, and always has a plan up her sleeve. We let the kids play, eat, color, etc the night before, and the next day went on a short nature hike, played in the river, and went on a motor trail before heading home. Having flexible ideas in place made the trip go smoothly as we were able to transition from one activity to the next without anyone complaining of being "bored".
Yes. Be flexible. That is totally against life as I know it. But, we had four adults and six kids, a lot of Goldfish, applesauce cups, marshmallows, rice krispie treats, and drinks. I truly thought I would be sleeping in the van with at least Titus, so I prepared myself for that. I went into it with the mindset that they are KIDS, and things never go as planned. I think working as a team and being flexible made this trip one we will always remember. Remember that little nugget of wisdom when you look up in an old cabin and see a bat above your head. Yes, that is a real, live bat. Right above my unwashed head.
Thank you, Hatfield family, for inviting us!! We are blessed to be friends with you guys!!
Seasoned family campers, any tips?? Would love to hear your thoughts!
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