(and Put More PLAY in Your Day)
If we’re honest with ourselves, and your friends at Kelty always are, kids can be pretty gnarly. Even the most devoted parent can admit that there are certain situations in which their little ones’ big personalities are maybe…how to say…a lot do deal with. And family camping trips can evoke exactly that kind of situation.
From tent-pitching tantrums to late-night potty runs to those inevitable why-is-everything-so-sticky moments (hint: it’s marshmallow), there’s no shortage of reasons to pause before pulling away from the comparative safety of the city. But there’s also nothing more important than helping your kids develop a genuine love for nature—and nothing sweeter than the smell of campfire smoke in their hair. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up a few hacks to help make your next family camping trip a major home run.
Bring Double-Duty Gear
Camping with kids is NOT about packing light—we get that. Even if you leave the tablets and other tech stuff behind, which we strongly suggest you do, it’s easy to cram every available nook and cranny with a toy or game or stuffed animal or…honey, what the hell is this thing? That’s why we also suggest bringing along space-saving items that can pull double (or even triple) duty. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Pool loungers can get a second wind as air mattresses
- Puffer jackets can transform a pillowcase into a pillow
- Two frozen water jugs will keep your entire cooler cold
- An empty water jug + a headlamp = impromptu lantern
- Doritos (or other thin corn chips) make amazing kindling
Make Mealtime Fun
Know what else camping with kids is NOT about? Healthy eating. I mean, you’re welcome to pack some bananas and GORP—they will both certainly be devoured—but if you ask any kid to tell your their favorite thing about camping, they’re gonna say s’mores. But here’s the great thing about camp cuisine: almost everything tastes better outside! We try to balance “memorable meals of questionable nutrition” with regular, good-for-you stuff…here are some ideas for the first category.: pre-cook, vacuum-seal and reheat chili, then serve in mini Fritos bags
- Walking Tacos: pre-cook, vacuum-seal and reheat chili, then serve in mini Fritos bag
- Campfire Crescent Dogs: pre-wrap and chill dogs, then serve with condiments of choice
- Orange Cinnamon Rolls: totally healthy because you made your kids eat the orange first
- Campfire Apple Crisp: prep the apples in your kitchen, then pop the foil packets in the fire
- Lumberjack Breakfast: a protein-rich hero meal kids can prepare (and clean up) themselves
- Pie Iron Pizza: spoiler alert, these are basically pepperoni grilled cheeses and kids LOVE them
Keep Dirt and Bugs at Bay
Camping with kids is basically a massive dirt experiment; for most of the day, you just roll with it and hope there’s a lake or stream in the mix somewhere. But when mealtime rolls around—or worse, when they’re about to crawl into your sleeping bag—you probably want to turn your attention to the next-level dirt mittens your toddler is wearing.
Hopefully, you’ve brought your industrial-sized tub of baby wipes for quick clean-ups. But for bigger messes, we can’t get over how much having a campsite “Scrub Station” has changed our lives. For a hand-and-foot washing station the whole family can use, set a double-jug of water (the kind with the spout) on the edge of your picnic bench. Put an old towel down, and set a rectangular wash basin on top. Squirt a bit of little Dr. Bronner’s in there, toss in an old washcloth…and you’re good to go!
Bugs, of course, are the LEAST fun part of camping. Bug spray, only slightly less fun—and totally toxic to boot! To keep the bugs off your little monsters, mommy blogger Rachel Hollis recommends making a solution of water, cloves, tea tree oil and peppermint oil. This natural insect repellent can be sprayed on clothing and bedding as well as skin; just be sure to give it a good shake before every spritz.
It’s all fun and games…until it rains.
When in doubt, game it out. Twister, Jenga, card games, glow sticks, light-up Frisbees (Check this one out from NightIze) and any of your other favorite family games can just as easily be transported to the great outdoors. In the event of Mother Nature’s sporadic outbursts of rain, you’re prepared for in-tent fun to keep the kiddos occupied. So relax, save your sanity, pack your attitude of adventure and enjoy the great outdoors with the little ones.
Kelty Gear Recs
Let’s face it- you aren’t going to get through the weekend, or even the backyard camping trip without some gear so here are a few recs from the experts at Kelty.
The Sequoia Tent – Everyone can stand up and jump around in our extra-extra tall Sequoia 4 and 6 person tents. With a huge door to welcome everyone in, and a shape designed to accommodate adults 6 feet tall standing upright, it’s not just kids who can have space to have a blast in this tent.
Boy’s & Girls Woobie Sleeping Bags-It’s no fun trying to stuff your sleeping child like a burrito into a sleeping bag. That’s why we made the easy-zip up Woobie. Keeps the little ones cozy in the great outdoors – and indoors too. It’s the perfect starter bag for toddlers and younger children up to 4′ tall.
Journey Perfectfit Child Carriers – If you’re going to venture out on the trail, or just around camp with the little ones, The Journey PerfectFIT™ child carrier series offers everything you could possibly need while trekking in the wild with your kiddo.