Camping: Lessons Learned

What I learned in my Forty Hours in the Woods:

1.  Going with friends = good

We went camping with another family from our church.  Their kids and our kids are good friends.  They played together the whole time and they had so much fun!  In general, we did not have to provide activities or direct them in any way.  They occupied themselves fully.  The oldest girl (my friend’s daughter) had them playing hide and seek, follow the leader, audience to her national anthem concert, and so on.

2. Bringing only one sweatshirt = bad

Note to self: When camping with kids, assume that the weather will be opposite of what you expect and assume that the clothing you bring might end up unwearable due to small children spilling hot chocolate, spitting up, acquiring poison oak, etc.  Therefore, bring at least two sweatshirts.  Or one for you AND one for your husband so you can commandeer a warmer item of clothing than a thin long-sleeved t-shirt.

3.  Air Mattress = very, very good

Obviously.

4.  Socks for the toddler = what’s the point?

Next time, I think I will have them wear crocs or sandals all the time.  Their socks got filthy and we had them remove their shoes every time they entered the tent (which was a good idea- it made clean up easier), so Princess K especially did not enjoy putting on shoes over her very dirty socks.  Or wearing those very dirty socks (she ran- heh- through socks very quickly and thus had only dirty socks just a few hours into the trip).  Z-urchin wandered around in socks and got them soaking wet and muddy.  Ick.  So next time: crocs for sure.  Socks at bedtime if their feet are cold.

5.  Preparing the meals ahead of time = good

My friend made the chili ahead of time so we just had to warm it up and it was ready to eat.  This was great since we were setting up camp and didn’t have too much time to make dinner.  Then I had prepared the taco meat and beans ahead of time, so all I had to do for dinner the second night was heat it up and set out the taco fixings.  I definitely overpacked when it came to food (I didn’t want anyone to go hungry!) so now I have a better idea of how much we’ll eat (of course, it might change from this year to next, I do have many boys to feed!) and perhaps I can pack a little less food to free up some space for an extra sweatshirt!

6.  Any food not in sealed containers = bad

There was a little wooden locker type cabinet at each campsite so I thought our food would be safe in bags in there.  Nope.  Squirrels or something small got in and clawed through the bags and ate our avocados.  X-man and Princess K were indignant.  I probably should know this food in sealed containers stuff already, but I have only really been camping once in my life.  When I was 13, with my mom, brother, and sister.  We mocked her for packing up the entire van for an overnight excursion 20 minutes away.  Yeah.  I take that back now, Mom.

7.  Relaxing at night (with a blanket wrapped around me) by the warm glow campfire, snuggling Z while he fell asleep, roasting marshmallows with sticky, dirty kids, and playing Apples to Apples with friends = really good times and really wonderful memories

8.  Playing Superchick really loud on the way to and from camping and dancing like idiots in the car with our kids = awesome (definitely not dorky at all)

So next time, I’ll pack a little less food, a little more warm layers.  If we do end up going next year, Z-urchin will be nearly 3.  Maybe by then he’ll have more sense than to go wandering in the road.  But then Shortstop will be just a little over 1 year old.  Probably just beginning to walk.  Maybe he’ll be content in the pack ‘n play?

Anyone else have any tips for camping with kids?

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