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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Camping with children - Part 2

Having made the decision to venture into the wild with your children, there are a few things you can do to make the adventure more enjoyable for you and safer for them.

1. Everyone should have a flashlight!  You can hook a small flashlight onto your child's belt loop so he doesn't lose it.

Hanging out in his own chair
2. Dress your young children in bright colors.  This is not the time to dress them in camo.  You want to be able to see them!  A good source for clothes for camping is your local thrift store.  That way you won't feel bad when someone rips, stains, or loses a shirt or pants.

3. Except for the necessities, pack lightly.  The more you bring, the more you have to haul back into the car when you're tired and just want to go home.   Besides, you're there to enjoy nature so let nature be your entertainment.

4. Speaking of packing, unless you're backpacking, use plastic storage containers to hold gear.  They are easy to carry, can double as seating, are waterproof and wildlife proof (well, sort of).

5. Always plan for rain.  Even if it's just a poncho, everyone needs something waterproof.  Mornings can be damp so you can always use it to sit on.

6. Have lots of easy-to-eat snacks available.  Trail mix, fresh fruit, granola bars...all these help keep the hunger away and in case it rains and you can't get a fire started, at least you have something to eat while you're driving home cold, wet, and cranky. :)

7. Don't forget sunscreen, first aid supplies and insect repellant.  I don't think I need to say anything else on those subjects.

He's helping wash dishes.
8. Even during summer months, the mornings can be cold so pack some warm clothing especially for babies and really young children.  Their little hands get cold so mittens are a good idea.

9. Teaching children to use a whistle in case of emergency is always a good idea.  They can wear their whistle around their neck, under their shirt and hope they never need it.

10. Bring along several large plastic bags to hold dirty clothes and trash.

11. Don't worry about dirt.  You're camping.  The kids are going to get dirty.

12. BUT, give them chores and responsibilities around the campsite.  They can learn how to clean up after themselves, wash dishes and help with meal prep, and keep their tent tidy.

13. Buy the biggest tent you can.  Being able to stand up in your tent makes such a difference in comfort.  And don't believe the label on the tent that says it's a 5 person tent (or whatever).  You're not going to be comfortable if you have 5 people in a five person tent.  That's a promise!

14. No campout is complete without marshmallows and hot chocolate.  Plan accordingly!

15.  Most of all, have fun and be patient with the kids.  You are all learning how to camp together so keep it an experience they'd want to do again.

On our last campout, my daughter-in-law introduced a couple of other innovative ideas...wish I'd thought of them!
1. She tied a bright yellow rope around the perimeter of the campsite as a boundary for her three year old.  Sure, he could climb over or under it but it was a physical reminder of the limits that were set for him.  He actually stayed within the boundary.
2. I really liked this one...she bought several packages of glow sticks from the dollar store and when it was time for the kids to go to bed, she hung the glow sticks from the ceiling of the tent.  It looked so cool!  I wanted some glow sticks too!


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