15 Tips or Camping With Kids

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Making Our Life Matter here.

Living in the mountains of South Carolina, there is no shortage of outdoor activities for summer. We can drive through the mountains, go rafting, walk through the gardens, and go fishing without traveling very far from home. One of my family’s favorite summertime activities is camping. The problem with living in South Carolina is the heat, so how can we resist being able to jump in the lake whenever we desire. That is just one of the benefits we experience as campers.

It is always nice to experience the clean mountain air and get away from things for a while, even if you are camping just minutes away from home. My husband and I grew up camping, and had the opportunity to take our son last year (he was 9 months old). We thought we knew everything about camping. We were wrong, and learned a lot by taking an infant. I am sharing some of our tips from years of camping. Although these tips are for camping in campgrounds-, most are also applicable for primitive camping as well.Know the rules of the campground where you will be staying. These are generally posted in the entrance as well as on the map of the campground. This may seem simple enough, but you should always be aware of quiet hours, rules about children and pets, and general camping rules.

  1. Know what amenities the campground you are staying at offers. Most have playgrounds- these will be shown on the map. Some campgrounds even have mini golf, Frisbee golf, boat rentals, tennis courts, and swimming pools.
  2. If you will want to use running water and electricity, make sure to find a site that offers these.
  3. If you are camping with children, be sure to find a campsite that is close to the restrooms.
  4. Drive around the campground before you reserve the site to guarantee that you get the best one available. Check to see how close it is to playgrounds, restrooms, the beach, the water in general, and to other campsites.
  5. Plan to cook- it is an experience in itself to adventure into cooking over a campfire. Remember to reserve some nights for roasting hotdogs and making smores though.
  6. Remember the things you did as a kid and implement those in the camping trip. What could be better than an evening catching fireflies or eating a watermelon, getting messy, and going for a swim to get the sticky off?
  7. Remember: put your trash in a bag and hang it high. Most campgrounds with pick your trash each morning if you put it beside the road, but you don’t want woods critters making a mess of it overnight.
  8. Make sure to pack organic/ natural soap and toothpaste. I use Naked Bee products. This allows me to wash hands and brush teeth right at the campsite without worrying about chemicals getting into the beautiful nature.
  9. Most campgrounds have this as a rule, but it is a good rule to utilize anyway: only gather wood that has already fallen for fires. It’s already on the ground, so what better way to lessen our impact on mother nature?
  10. Don’t get discouraged if it happens to rain- just prepare ahead of time. Pack a bag of crayons and coloring books, play doh, crafts, or even a rainy day movie and portable DVD player/ laptop. Rain can be a blessing- once it stops, everyone is eager to get outside again.
  11. Keep your clothing, toiletries, and valuables in your car. This allows for easy access, keeps creepy crawlies out of your clothing, and provides more room in your tent. You can also provide a family laundry bag- easy access when laundry time comes.
  12. Do not forget to bring outside toys. Shovels, buckets, and dirt can entertain kids of all ages for hours. When packing toys, remember to bring along those items that give your child comfort- whether it is a blanket, a teddy bear, or a dump truck. This will make your little ones feel more at home.
  13. Remember to bring along a sting kit, first aid kit, sunscreen, sun lotion, bug spray or other repellant, hats, and a jacket (nights can get cool when you are outside).
  14. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not stress- that will defeat the purpose of getting into the great outdoors. Have fun with your kids, and accept that dirt happens.
  15. Think of some outdoors activities that encourage exploration to try out during your camping trip. There are even things to do straight from your campsite. Pick up a hand held metal detector and explore away. 
  16. I know that camping (especially with kids) is not for everyone, but I encourage you to try it at least once. 
It is a great and inexpensive way to get away from everything. If you want to try it out, but are not ready to fork over the cost of getting started, there are ways to get around it. Try a cabin; rent an RV; there are even businesses that rent camping equipment. A tent can even be purchased for less than $100. Some of my best memories of childhood involved camping with my family and I cannot wait to make these memories with my own little family.

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