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Camping With Kids

{All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone. You can expect “real” photos and some videos in the upcoming days. As soon as I recover from our “relaxing” weekend.}

When I was a teenager I loved camping. The excitement, the adventure, enjoying nature just as God made it. Getting away from it all.

Camping with kids is a completely different beast. First off, there is no “getting away from it all” when you take a dozen kids camping. Or one kid. It’s more like “taking it all with you“. Which simply isn’t nearly as fun.

And then there is the fact that as a mom I often spend more time preparing for and cleaning up after a camping trip, than the actual duration of the trip. When I camped as a teen, I just took a change of clothes, some extra socks and enough food for a couple of days (all comfortably loaded into my backpack).

Camping with kids is like mobilizing a small army for the front lines: fresh socks and undies for everyone (triple allotment for the last kid to have been potty trained). Diapers and pull-ups for those who still wet the bed at night. One pair of pajamas should suffice for the weekend except  those aforementioned children who still wet the bed. Shoes and sandals for everyone. Don’t forget a fleece jacket and warm coat (in case it rains) and long johns for everyone. Water bottles and snuggle toys. Books, coloring books and colored pencils and music for the long drive.

And tents. As a teen one tent, one sleeping mat, one sleeping bag. Now? Anywhere from three to half a dozen tents, a dozen sleeping bags and mats. And blankets. And  pillows. And extra for those who wet the bed.

camping with kids

And food. It takes a whole lot of food to feed this small army. When I was  teen I never cooked anything while camping (I didn’t even heat water for Starbucks Via ready brew coffee).  I was a vegetarian, so meat was out. I packed nuts and dried fruit and avocados and granola bars. None of these food required cooking or dishes. Clean up entailed stuffing the empty bag into the pocket of my pack. The evenings were spend sitting around the campfire, sharing stories, watching the sunset. It was heaven on earth.

With kids, it can be more like the other place on earth. I still spend the evenings sitting around the fire, but this time I am trying to make sure no one falls (or some years crawls) into it. I am often watching the sunset not to enjoy the splendor of creation,  but because someone still. isn’t. asleep.

I still take trail mix and nuts and dried fruit. But now I also take: hot dogs, buns, condiments, juice, cookies, pasta salad, chips, peanut butter, jam, bread, eggs, sausage, cheese…the list is endless. And of course, of course s’more making supplies. You just can’t take kids camping without s’mores.

And speaking of s’mores, one of the first things i did when I arrived home last night was take a shower to, you know, wash the marshmallow out of the back of my hair. Never mind that I didn’t actually roast a single marshmallow all weekend. Nevermind that the only marshmallow I consumed was in s’more lovingly made for me by Avi. As we all know, sticky marshmallows at a campsite multiply like gremlins when you give them a little water.

photo 2

The past two years we’ve had the pleasure of taking  tube feeding supplies along with us. This includes: a fully-charged feeding pump, feeding bag for each night, clean syringes, extensions, a new mic-key button in case of emergencies, eight cans of formula. All kept clean and sanitary.camping with kids

So why do it? I confess I have sometimes asked myself (and Chuck) that very question. But I know the answer. Happy memories. Fellowship. Triumph. Joy. A little pain. Difficult moments. These are all things that make us stronger as a family.



  1. northofdelaware

    We camped last summer with our almost 2 year old…and while we had some lovely times…it was more like the other place on earth. I think we’ll be waiting till she’s a bit older to camp again, or get a cabin.

  2. Heather @ Mix of 6

    We don’t camp but I can imagine how difficult but fun and the treasure moments can totally be worth doing it.

  3. sarah

    I hate camping. Loved it when I was a kid and my grandparents did all the work. ;). Andy bought an RV, and said, “now we can camp everyother weekend without so much work!” Hmmm, the thought was nice, but it is still work, just a different kind. And now, he wants to go when its raining, which means all 7 of us crammed in a tiny tin box for 2 days. Andy also argues, “but we are creating memories!” And I retort with, “yes for thier therapist to sort out later.” 🙂 All in all its ok, but your post made me laugh, and say, “Good job! Enjoy your bed and hot shower!!!”

  4. Robyn

    After car camping with our kids (only two of them!) last summer, my husband and I (who used to do 10-day backpacking trips!) concluded that camping, for us, is a means to an end — getting someplace you couldn’t go in a day trip — but not an intrinsically fun activity. Having two picky gluten free/dairy free eaters didn’t help. Neither did the hot weather and rain in the middle of the night.

    On the other hand, we went swimming, had a campfire, toasted marshmallows of course, the kids slept reasonably well, and they still think it was 100% pure amazing.

    So there’s that.

  5. Peg in Seattle

    ‘In case it rains’, Renee, you’re so funny….You live in the Pacific Northwest, it always rains.
    When our five were still little we tent camped also, I thought it would ‘build character’ and it sure did. All five are characters. Now that’s it’s just the two of us, we ‘camp’ in a trailer.

  6. Jessi

    We keep talking about camping but I barely camped as a kid, once maybe twice? Similar for my husband but he has slightly more experience because of boy scouts. With 4 kids it seems like folly to try and hash it out with little experience. But I keep saying one day we will brave it for a weekend. Memories are worth it, right?

  7. modeejae

    When I was little my dad was a cowboy in the mountains in Idaho. His job was to round up the free range cattle and move them through the woods to other areas. Every summer we would pack up our camper (my dad and uncle built it on the back of a flatbed 1-ton truck) and spent the entire summer in the woods. We had a creek nearby for bathing and fresh water. My dad dug a hole a few yards back from our camper and built a box on it with a toilet seat. While Dad was gone chasing cows, Mom and I would play board games or I would run around in the fields in front of us or the woods behind us. I loved it! I have awesome memories of those summers when I was little. Granted, I had no idea what kind of prep work went into camping for months at a time. We would head back to town a couple times a month to replenish food and do a couple loads of laundry. The thought of doing that now with my own children scares the heck out of me! My camping adventures were in a completely different time. We had no computers, internet, video games or cell phones. We had books and our imagination.
    If it’s a campfire and s’mores you’re looking for, we generally have those each week at Horse Camp and it’s not nearly as stressful as camping. However, I can’t guarantee you won’t get marshmallows in your hair. 🙂

  8. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    You are a brave, brave, lady.

    Maybe, just maybe, when my kids are a little older we’ll go camping. May-be. The thought that I’m actually considering it is terrifying.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

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