We are a camping family.  Most of our outdoor adventures take place in the desert.  Lots of off road activities.

Lots of dirt.

This past Father’s Day weekend we changed it up and headed to our local mountains.

There was still lots of dirt.  And mud.  And rattlesnakes.

And while I have lots of posts that tell our camping stories and share lots of pictures, I’ve never really talked about how to camp with three small boys.  Or even how I think it’s an experience that every family should participate in.  My Aunt and Uncle have it painted right on their camp trailer:

“A Family that Plays Together, Stays Together!”

In the age of computers, iPods, DVR’s, and video games, it’s nice to get out as a family and get dirty.  Play.

Things you need to go camping:

  • Tent (or if you are lucky, a trailer/RV/motor-home).  We use a huge 3 part tent.
  • Sleeping bags.  OR just lots of blankets.  We have 1 sleeping bag.  So they are not necessary, but nice to have.
  • Air mattress.  This is for the parents.  It’s amazing how kids can sleep on the hard ground without a peep, but not me.  I’m old.
  • Flashlights or lanterns.  It gets dark in the wild.
  • Lots of clothes.
  • Warm pajamas.
  • Big Rubbermaid type box for all your stuff (band-aids, snacks, flashlights, toiletries, toilet paper, paper plates, silverware, etc)
  • Baby Wipes!  Even if you don’t have babies, these are SO handy.  I don’t know how I survived without them.
  • Some chairs.
  • Firewood
  • Food (duh)  Take easy stuff.  My family has trailers (except me) and they get fancy with dinners.  But I bring Nutrigrain bars, bread, PB&J, instant coffee, cereal, deli meat etc.  Keep it simple.  Those Lunchables are awesome for camping, too.
  • Toys (balls and bats are great), cars, army men.  Things that don’t get ruined in the dirt.
  • Ice chest with drinks and room for your cold food.
  • Camera!

There are so many campgrounds out there.  Find something local.  We only went about one hour away, but easily could have stayed right in town.  If it’s your first time, head to a maintained campground, many of them have running water and bathrooms.    Most campgrounds cost less than $15 bucks a night.  It’s not expensive at all.

Once your camp is all set up, prepare to have some fun!  Go hiking, exploring, swimming.  We went to a place called “Kitchen Creek.”  There was a little stream and lots of trees.  The boys had a BLAST wading in the stream.  Who cares if it looks “gross” to the adults…the kids won’t care.  The boys went hiking with my cousin (our own version of the Crocodile Hunter).  They came back with a bucket full of bugs, tadpoles and other strange things.  They caught lizards and even a little snake!

 

There are rocks to climb!

Mud to squish…

Water to wade in…

Rattlesnakes to see!  YIKES!  Actually, I don’t really like this part.  But it did make for a fascinating learning experience for the boys.  This big guy was only about 100 yards away from our camp.  We were able to get close enough to snap a few pictures and point it out to the kids (from a safe distance…I promise!).  They were able to see a real one and learn what they look like and where they hide.

Good times with family.  This is my aunt.

Playing baseball!

learning how to fold a tent and work as a team.  Well, actually, the twins were really just moral support.  Lol!

Getting DIRTY!

So go camping!  It’s not hard, really.  The rewards and experiences that your children will gain are priceless.