Camping with Kids- The Essential Packing List!
So, I am going to go ahead and call us pros. This weekend marked our dozenth (wow, that’s a word?) camping trip and I feel like maybe we deserve a metal or a trophy or SOMETHING! Two busy business owners + self-described girlie girl mom + two young kiddos + zero camping experience = camping gurus?!? Yep, I gotta admit that I was iffy on the whole thing. Iffy as in didn’t want to do it as in no thank you as in maybe in my next life. However, like I detailed in my camper renovation post, we wanted and desperately needed something relaxing, something project free (while on a trip in the camper, renovating it on other weekends doesn’t count… because I said so) and something family bonding-ish. We had owned a cabin in Big Canoe, GA for several years and then sold it when Addie was young so we were missing that work hard, play hard getaway. But camping?!? Besides sitting around a campfire, singing Kumbaya, and roasting marshmallows all while getting eaten alive by mosquitos, I honestly wasn’t sure what you actually do when you go camping. But we bought a camper and we went camping. And I loved it.
So we went again and again and again. Times four. And every time we learned how to make the packing quicker, the list more efficient and the trips more fun. I quickly learned that hiking and exploring and adventuring are second to exotic European vacations in my book and that wearing a ball cap all weekend totally rocks. I learned that even cleaning a camper from top to bottom and fluffing every single pillow every single morning literally only takes fifteen minutes. I learned that Mark loves to grill so much that he cooks every single thing outside on his mini Green Egg and camping stove top so I do not cook a single thing. The entire weekend.
This past weekend was actually our first trip in over a year. We went tons when we first purchased it in 2013 and then got busy. But this weekend we had decided to get back on the bandwagon once again. Plus, Mark had decided this was what he wanted to do for Father’s Day. AND Addie even chose camping over the beach when Mark let her choose between the two. Yes, it really can be THAT fun. I requested great hiking and a campsite less than three hours away so Mark found a private campground called Riverbend Campground in Hiawassee, GA. Thus far we have always chosen private campgrounds because they are usually all full hook-up. Meaning Mark doesn’t have to tote a container of poo to a dumping ground. Eww me neither.
After three hours on the road, an almost flat tire, two potty breaks and one meltdown, we arrived around 3pm on Friday afternoon. After we got it all set up and hooked up and cleaned up and organized, we hit the playgrounds!
So you are going camping and you are bringing your kids. What do you do and what do you pack?
My Top 10 Camping with Kids Essentials…
- Baby Wipes– although your kiddos may be well past the age of needing their bums wiped, things happen. Their hands get dirty and they play with lizards. I find that I use baby wipes sooo much on every camping trip!
Point in Case… about fifteen minutes upon arrival, Winnie managed to find a busted pen and successfully massage the ink into every crevice of her fingers…
2. Bubbles & Sidewalk Chalk– there is usually lots of outdoor downtime, which I like to call relaxation, while camping so little things like bubbles and sidewalk chalk are inexpensive and will keep them occupied for hours!
3. Paper Products– I know, I know, I know… Not the most Earth friendly but kids can eat. A lot. And often. So rather than spend the weekend doing dishes and emptying dirty water from the camper, we bring paper plates, paper towels and plastic silverware.
4. Tennis Shoes, 5. Bug Spray & 6. Kid Backpack/Carrier (as in put the kid in the backpack)
One of the main things we look for in choosing a campground is proximity to amazing parks and hiking trails. They are usually well shaded so even in the heat of Summer they are substantially cooler than hanging out all day at the campground. Parks and trails are also a great place for the kids to adventure too! Although Winnie is really great at keeping up with us, after a mile or two she is pooped. She has gotten a little too heavy to ride in a backpack/kid carrier but if yours are young enough, pack one for sure!
7. Sunscreen & 8. Bathing Suits
The pool is the obvious swimming destination and lots of campgrounds have them! However, even during the months when the pool is closed and swimming seems unlikely, unless it is FA-reezing, my kids ALWAYS find a wet area to play. Creek banks, rivers, ponds, the list goes on…
9. Ride-On Toys– So apparently I will need to check my own list next time because we totally forgot those this trip but my girls LOVE to ride bikes, trikes, scooters and anything else with wheels around the campground.
10. Mason Jars– I swear that fireflies love campgrounds because my kiddos can fill jars to the rim with them on our trips! They looove when the sun starts to go down and they can run free in the fields catching them! These also work for all of the lizards, frogs and bugs that the girls seem to wrangle up.
P.S. No critters were harmed during this camping trip.
So all in all we had a freaking fantastic weekend. Mark told the girls it was his favorite weekend ever. He did say minus week long trips because those do not count. I would HIGHLY recommend this campground as well if you are local. It was the cleanest and nicest that we have been to thus far. The bath houses were brand new at our end and the campground sat on a river which was perfect for afternoon adventures!
Stay tuned for next week’s post on…
What to Pack for a Camping Trip- the Hubby & Wife Edition!
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XOXO, Brittany Hayes