Thursday, July 16, 2015

Camping with Kids - Tips and Tricks for Families

Camping.  It's so much fun!  The fresh air, the crackling sound of the fire, the crisp lake water, the sound of birds chirping and kids laughing.  It can really be quite relaxing and rejuvenating.  It can also be a TON of work, disorganized, dirty and tiring.  So how do families (especially with young children) get through it, and want to do it again?  Keep reading to find out!

Each year my family and friends embark on an annual camping trip.  There are about 20 of us in our group, and a lot of us are kids.  We camp in a VERY hot area, (thank goodness for the cold lake), and have a limited amount of time.  We have been doing this for a number of years, so have learned a few tips and tricks over the years to make things run smooth while still having lots of fun.

  • Make a master grocery list and divide up the supplies (if you are traveling with multiple families). Email everyone a copy of the list, so that everyone has easy access to it and won't duplicate items.
  • Don't over-pack clothes.  More than likely, you will spend most of the time in your bathing suit if you are near water anyway.  Furthermore, you will be limited on space.  Rolling clothes and packing them in your suitcase saves space.  
  • Bring lots of baby wipes!  You will be DIRTY and may not be near a sink.  It is always handy to have lots of baby wipes to clean your hands, your face, your kids, and your supplies.
  • There are plenty of camping essentials needed when camping.  Make sure to research what you need and keep in mind what can fit in your car.
 Now for the entertainment...


 Bring lots of glow in the dark toys for kids, (glow sticks, light up balls, etc.)

 Don't underestimate the power of a flashlight!  Kids LOVE their own personal flashlight/lantern.  You may even want to write their name on theirs to avoid confusion.

 Have fun playing with your shadow!  Tents, lights, and shadows make for great play time with little kids.


Let's face it, most kids LOVE to play in the dirt!  Bring a pail, shovel, and a few water/beach toys and you will be set.  These toys not only can be played with near the water, but they will add hours of entertainment at your campsite too.  Our kids LOVE playing with these toys in the dust and dirt.  And yes, it does get VERY messy!!!


 Toys may include:
  • small cars and action figures
  • coloring books, crayons and markers
  • a loved stuffed animal or blanket (that you will need to launder after the trip)
  • kid magnifying glasses or binoculars
  • bug catching containers/supplies
  • bubbles
  • play swords 
  • make-up for makeovers

These kiddos got a make-up makeover by their older cousin!

Sword fighting!
It's also helpful to designate a kids' table where the toys can be used.  This table may double as the kids' eating area when necessary.  We covered our table with a canopy to add shade and help keep the flies out.  This worked really well for us since it allowed for the adults to eat their meals away from the kids (but still within site) aiding in a little peace and quiet.

 Peace and quiet, and beautiful nature is what we want!


Many times, people will leave water toys behind that you and your kids will be able to enjoy.  It's also nice for you to leave water toys behind for others as well.  This helps in saving space in your car as well as doing a good deed.  I wouldn't however,  count on water toys being available.  Pack a few, (not inflated of course) just to be on the safe side.       

Boating, tubing, and going out for a relaxing ride on the lake are SUPER enjoyable!  If you don't own a boat, make sure to reserve one ahead of time, and remember to bring life jackets for the kiddos if you don't want to use the life jackets provided.


Find a kid friendly, flat trail and go for a hike.  Look for animals/insects on your path, stop for a quick swim (if your path is near water), or pack a sandwich and have lunch in the woods.

Can you spot me?  I am hidden!


What camping trip is complete without making s'mores?  The kids LOVE making them and we all LOVE eating them!

Why stop with s'mores when you can have popcorn too?


We are a family of five squeezing into a tent.  Things can get cramped pretty quickly and easily!  If there is any sort of mess on top of it, tempers can rise, and things just aren't really pretty!  This trip, we had two queen sized air mattresses on each side of a twin sized air mattress. This tight fit worked surprisingly well.  Having the air mattresses squished into the tent, helped to keep things in their place.  This meant our small walking path (near our feet and not pictured) remained a path, and wasn't taken over by moving beds.  Yippee!  Please don't misunderstand me, a large spacious tent with lots of room to move around in, is ideal.  But, if that is not an option, squeezing beds together, can help to keep things put!

Inside View

Outside View


What kept the kids entertained for quite some time this trip, was unplanned and not something I would have ever guessed.   Homemade tattoos!  The kids found some pens (from games we brought to play with the adults), and made a Tattoo Parlor!  They hung up a sign on their canopy covering the kid table, and got to work.  Their amazing teenage cousin was their customer and she "purchased" tattoos from them quite often.  They would simply draw on her skin with the pen and give her a tattoo.  I guess she figured that she was already dirty anyway, why not add some ink to the mix?  Who would have guessed?!

Happy Camping!


  1. Awesome blog about the camping trip! Love the photos too! :)