I was a camp counselor full time for six summers. Two summers part time. A camp wife/mama for seventeen. That’s a lot of camp.
As a counselor, camp out was my favorite activity. Fav.or.ite. Seriously. As a mama, not so much. We took a pop-up to the beach when I was pregnant with Chloe, so HB was four, Noah was two and Daniel was sixteen. I hated it. And that’s an understatement.
Maybe it was because it was the beach and I hate sand. Maybe it was because we stayed at an RV park. Maybe it was because I’m a wimp.
Regardless, I said after that, “I”m not doing that again until the last kiddo is out of diapers. Definitely not in a tent with babies.”
And I didn’t.
A couple of years ago, we hit that (very sad and horrible, in my opinion) milestone, so I told Paul I was ready. And by ready, I meant willing.
Last August, we had a weekend set with some new friends. Sadly, she hurt her back and I had one of the weirdest experiences of my life. And by weird I mean horrid. I had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and spent hours on the floor in agony and gripping the toilet. Went to the doctor and had the first all natural and techie prescription in my life: drink some ginger tea and watch a video on YouTube to cure yourself.
Yes, we paid for that information.
Anyhoo… a camping weekend didn’t get rescheduled until this month. I was so excited. And my hopes proved true. We had a fantastic time tent camping as a family and with friends.
Despite the hail that pummeled us as we drove into the valley. Despite the rain that fell all night. Despite the forty-three degree nights.
I know it helped that the friends we went with are pros. That’s for sure.
Yet, in our own right, we did great and hung tough. Yes, all of us in one tent. Together. Two nights far from home in the woods on a mountain.
I can’t wait to do it again.
Hiking. Wading. Romping. Resting. Visiting.
Just being. In the mountains, together.
The kids even found wild raspberries. After eating plenty, they decided to have a competition to see which group could collect the most. That’s really a win/win no matter who wins for me because it means lots of raspberries.
Fresh raspberries on pancakes while on a mountainside. Pretty stinkin’ amazing.
There are a few items on my camping list now that we didn’t have:
- batteries for the sound machine
- more folding chairs
- canopy (2)
- hand sanitizer
- scouring pad
- dish soap
- hot chocolate
- marshmallow sticks
We were not lacking anything of necessity and packed really well, but the list above includes helpful and fun items. I’d like two canopies so we can have one over the picnic table (0ur friends brought that and definitely proved helpful as it rained the first night) and one at the entrance to our tent (helping with the water/wet items upon entering our communal sleeping area).
If you have any must have items, please share!
Here are my tips for tent camping with a large family (or any sized family):
- Make sure you know how to set the tent up before you go. Use it a few times in your backyard to get the hang of it. Soooo glad we did this.
- Take extra clothes just in case your kiddos get wet.
- Bring about four more trash bags than you think you’ll actually need.
- Bring a big cooler of water for refilling water bottles.
- Prep some meal items to save time and effort.
- Keep meals simple and fun. Make tried and true camping recipes (Pinterest is your friend, but so are pros in your life. Ask them.)
- Bring lots of s’mores fixings. No such thing as too much.
- Assign jobs for the kiddos.
- Sit around the fire until late and tell stories.
- Laugh and giggle a lot.
- Care not about clean clothes, but watch the wet ones.
- Bring socks even if you don’t normally wear them.
- Make sure your kiddos know the “don’t eat fruit/berries unless Mom, Dad or another grown up with your group says it’s ok”. Seriously.
- Just do it!
While I still don’t regret not camping with babies, I do wish we had started going sooner. Super wonderful.
What are your tips for camping? Any bonus tips for large family camping? Bonus bonus tips for tent camping?
Share the camping love!
*First two photos courtesy my dear friend, Jasmine!