It’s funny what we’ll do for our kids, right? Mr. Genius would rather have his toenails slowly removed than go camping, but here we are, prepping for the scouts’ spring camping trip. The Engineer is over the moon excited, and the adults are cautiously hopeful that this time will be a little less … muddy … than last time.
I get to hold down the fort at home with the younger ones and wallow shamelessly across the entire bed for one glorious night. Ha! I hate camping.
Despite that, we’re planning a family camping trip this summer at some undetermined point. We’re gearing up, debating the merits of this tent versus that tent, dithering over the butane stove at Aldi, or fleece versus polyester interiors for sleeping bags. More sleeping bags. Because we already have some, just not enough.
By the way, don’t ever believe the occupancy number on tents. If you’re tiny and shaped like a sardine, you MIGHT be able to get 8 people in an 8 person tent. End to end, smushed in, without pillows or sleeping bags. An 8 person tent will comfortably fit 4 people, 3 with gear, sleeping bags, mats, and pillows. And don’t ever buy a tent that needs waterproofing spray. Just get the darned waterproof one in the first place – save yourself some time! Think you won’t need waterproof? ::evil laugh:: yes, you will.
So without having personally experienced camping with my kids … yet … I can offer a few suggestions on how to not lose your mind. I’m sure there will be a part 2 for this post after we take the entire family out camping.
- Bring extra adults. One to distract kids while the other puts up the tents and tries not to swear.
- Ziplock bags. And more ziplock bags. Seriously, bring the whole box. Anything wet goes into the bag, because the trip home will be muddy otherwise.
- Rainboots. Because mud happens when you least expect it.
- Institute a NO BOOTS in the tent rule, or you’ll be sleeping in the mud. Think I’m kidding? The entire Otter raft played in the tent the last trip. No one took boots off.
- Have busy tasks already lined up and ready, because the kids will ask to “help” at the least helpful time – like when you’re chopping veggies for the beef stew for dinner with a honking huge knife and they crowd your elbow trying to “help.” You did bring that emergency medical kit, right?
- Bring a trail map if you go hiking. Because someone will forget which turn to take and you’ll end up somewhere way down the wrong trail and have to walk back along the road to get back to the campsite. With the entire raft of complaining 5-7-year-olds: “we’re tired! Are we there yet? I need a drink of water!”
- Pick a campsite with a real bathroom. Because “I need to go potty” takes on new, wonderful meaning when you don’t have an actual toilet handy.
- Bug spray. Gallons of the stuff.
- Folding chairs are a must, because sitting in leaf litter with crawling things just isn’t the best way to have dinner.
- Baby wipes. Lots and lots of baby wipes. Marshmallows – need I say more?
And snacks. Bring snacks. Boxes of the things. Apparently camping produces prodigious appetites, and kids wolf down any available food (as long as it’s not green.)
I missed out on this part of standard kid life as a child – I can’t remember ever going camping. My mom’s idea of roughing it was staying in a hotel. My dad’s was staying in an RV. We went to summer camps and stayed in rough cabins here and there, but having a roof over your head doesn’t really count.
My kids will go camping. The Princess will probably hate it (“mommy there’s a BUG ON ME!!!”) and the Destroyer will take every opportunity to disappear into the underbrush. And when they’re old and grey, they can say they went camping when they were kids. We’ll have memories, family jokes, and traditions.
If we’re lucky, we won’t have Lyme disease too.
Did I mention I hate camping?