Summer is here and family adventures are at the top of our list this season. A natural fit for budget-friendly family fun is camping! You can’t quite beat the simple joy of making memories in mother nature, away from electronics, screen time, and other household distractions–camping offers a chance to score some serious quality time with your children!
My husband and I have enjoyed camping since our dating days, but we didn’t venture out last year, and we are eager to introduce our soon-to-be two-year-old to all the camping glory this summer! I know our little sidekick will require a whole extra kind of prep, so I’ve been asking around for tips for how to plan for and enjoy camping with kids. Here are some fun reminders and ideas to help your family have the best possible camping trips this summer:
Make a List
Download a packing list to help organize and guide your family’s packing. Packing for a camping trip is no easy feat, especially with little ones in the picture! There are lots of great packing lists available online to get you started and ensure you don’t forget anything important — find one you like and personalize it to your needs.
Keep it Simple
Keep the food simple when camping with kids. Pinterest is full of crazy awesome camping recipes but let’s be real… I don’t go camping so I can pretend to be Martha Stewart. Kids will be thrilled with simple camping meals…anything on a long fork is great! Roasting hot dogs over the fire is a must but you can mix it up by grilling fruit (try pineapple or peaches). Banana boats are an extra fun treat!
Summer in the Midwest means lots of sun and heat! Be sure to keep your family protected with plenty of sunscreen, hats and appropriate clothing. If you plan to be in the sun majority of your trip consider purchasing clothing with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor. Here are some tips.
Get Your Glow On
Stock up on glow sticks! These are fun for kids of all ages and it’s helpful to put a glow necklace on walking toddlers so it’s easier to keep track of them after the sun goes down.
Get yourself a good first-aid kit, or assemble your own. I recommend throwing in some chloraseptic spray… Just spray it on bug bites and the itching will stop (p.s. it also stains, so wait till it is dry before clothes come in contact with it).
As soon as you select your camping plot, have everyone walk around the site together and establish strict rules and safety boundaries. Use easily-identifiable landmarks, such as fallen trees, to mark any areas that are out of bounds. For toddlers or young children it may be helpful to draw a line with chalk or lay a piece of brightly colored yarn that they are instructed not to cross. Constant supervision is a must, but boundaries help!
Review proper fire safety and always keep kids a good distance from the pit to avoid tripping into it. Expert suggest having kids assist with building the fire (gathering sticks, kindle, etc) so they gain a respect and understanding for it.
Whistles for All
I love the idea of giving every child a whistle to wear around their neck. If kids get separated they should know to find the nearest tree, sit down, and blow the whistle three times. Adults should return the call with one whistle to let the child know they are on their way. This is smart because not only does it encourage a proactive discussion about what your child should do if he/she is lost, but you can blow a whistle for a lot longer than you can yell, and the sound is more distinctive and carries farther!
Embrace the Dirt
Get over the dirt factor. They are going to have grimy hands and faces, and that’s the beauty of camping! Bring wipes and hand sanitizer, but it’s OK to save the real bathing until you’re home. 🙂