Can you really camp with children?

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Here we were camping in Maine- a far cry from camping with 3,000 people. Birch is pretending to be on a walkie-talkie.

It occurred to me tonight that we missed our annual spring camping with 3,000 people in North Carolina for Merlefest- a bluegrass festival. Shhh please….. thankfully, I think my husband forgot!

Last time we went, I was 6 months pregnant and we had our toddler Birch. Being pregnant, I was at the portapotties all night. With no toilet paper to speak of, I got a  terrible rash that put me in the emergency room along with a pierced ear drum (that was not from the portapotties).  Oh, and it rained most of the time…and our son kept leaving our campground to visit other people’s more interesting stakeouts with toys and burgers, and we had to keep hauling him back, crying.  And the last straw, my husband was out playing music on most nights, so I was left in the tent trying to shush my toddler to sleep. Glorious.

However, I KNOW that some people have had fun camping with their kids. Now that we have a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old, I am game to try it again.  I think. Perhaps you are too? Or have done it and have some advice to pass on?

Since summer is fast approaching, I read some advice from parents who have camped (and done okay) and they have some good suggestions. A good portion of these are from the Berkeley Parents Network- my favorite parenting advice site.
Here are some of the suggestions that I culled:

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  1. I love the idea of keeping everything in Rubbermaid containers- I’m going to try that. You sound like a born organizer.
    I think co-op camping is a nice idea too- maybe we can do it with you sometime?!
    We were also deep woods backpackers so this car-camping is new to me: but, hello! Other kids, big tents for hard sleepers and a place to brush teeth with running water- I’m sold now!

  2. We camped twice last summer with our daughter who had just turned 1. She loved it! The first was for 2 nights and we did it with another family with a child the same age. It really helped. We generally had 1 person watching the little ones while the other 3 bathed, cooked, cleaned, set-up and broke down camp. Would definitely do that again.

    The second time we were on our own for 3 nights and had a very secluded campsite, which I think was helpful, since she coudln’t just wander into other people’s camps. It also had a GREAT playground, which was a good familiar distraction for her. It seemed like a less-hectic amount of time. We weren’t just busy setting up and breaking down camp. We could actually enjoy it!

    We bought one of those clamp-on high-chairs for the picnic table which was perfect for her eating. Otherwise, it’s always on the lap. I”m going to look for a placemat for her, too, so we don’t have to worry so much about sloppy eating. We also bought her a tiny campchair, which was too big but she loved it anyway!

    I used to do the deep woods camping (pack-in, pack-out, 35 lbs on your back), but have been converted to a car-camping believer! We bought a HUGE 6-person tent (big enough for our daughter’s sleeping tent, which was helpful on cold nights when she would NOT stay under the covers) and, blush, an aeromattress. It was great that she could just wake up and crawl over to us so we could all slowly wake up together. Especially key for rainy days, as is a LOT of tarp and rope for making outside rain shelter.

    Even before kids, too, we liked to camp as a quick getaway, so we developed a master camping list of all the things we need to pack, including basic groceries, for a weekend. And, we keep most of our camping stuff in two large rubbermaid containers (that are small enough for our car trunk). That way, we can decide on a Tuesday that we’re going camping on Friday and it’s not at all impossible to be organized and ready to go!

    We’re so excited to camp with our toddler. We’ve got a weekend planned nearby and a full week in Maine at the end of summer. We’ll bring our bikes to both!

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