For years I had been promising that I would take Seth camping. For a variety of reasons, I was not able to keep my promise until a few weeks ago when we camped out along San Clemente State Beach in California.
Some parents, but especially dads, expressed surprise and concern that I could handle both kids away from mom so long. To be honest, taking the kids camping seemed such a natural thing to do, I never questioned the idea.
Even before leaving, just about all aspects of camping fascinated and excited the kids:
- Both kids love it when I set up the tent in the house or back yard. They climb in and out dozens of time and invent new games.
- What kid doesn’t like flashlights?
- There is something about climbing into a sleeping bag, even in the living room, that charges a kid’s juices.
- The kids were fascinated by my ancient, portable camp stove.
So no, I never really questioned taking the kids on the trip. I had little trouble even with Lael, who is only 3.
While there, I made mistakes of course: I bought local firewood that didn’t want to burn without the help of a gallon of gas. I made poor camp food choices, too.
But as a whole, the kids had as much fun at the campground as they did down on the beach. Here are some examples:
- I bought miniature LED lanterns that the kids loved. They were bright, weighed only a few ounces and cost $5 each at Wal-Mart.
- I brought orange and green glow sticks for the kids. At first we were disappointed by the orange ones because the green ones were so much brighter. But when the orange sticks were STILL glowing the next night, the kids were fighting over those instead.
- I gave them wagon rides around the campground.
- At dawn, we could walk over to the cliff and look down on the shoreline. At night, we could walk over to the cliff and observe the stars and lights of a far off island. (I forgot to bring Seth’s telescope, but we had binoculars.)
- The tent became this cozy getaway in which the kids would lose themselves while I prepared dinner or hung up wet towels.
The key to camping with kids, at least from my perspective, is to make sure you have enough toys and ideas to keep them busy. Show them plants, hunt for rocks, etc.
Biggest change for next time? I’d love to have another family come along so the kids will have more playmates.