We love camping! So, we are definitely NOT back-country campers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little “glamping” now and then! And hey, we’re in a tent so that’s gotta count for something, right? I get people asking all the time how we camp – first with twins and now with our 3rd little guy. Honestly, the first year we decided to try camping with our then 1-year-old twins I was pretty skeptical. We agreed to one night (our friends were staying for two) and we’d see how it went. Well, we loved it so much we ended up staying for the second night! That first year we borrowed a tent and advice from our friend Adel who also has twins (and has a fun blog here) and refine our process as the years went by. I thought I’d share our recent May Long Weekend camping experience with you here! Incidentally – we were camping at the site beside Adel with their twins too, which made for a very fun time!! 🙂
So first thing I usually do when we get to camp is set up our kitchen. There are some pretty amazing travel camping kitchens available but we just use this smaller costco folding table (complete with stain marks from when Jason stained the wood for our headboard…) and a drawer tower. That tower of drawers is usually stocked in our garage with the basics (camping cutlery, plastic dishes, odds and ends we might need) and I add in a few things from home that we use regularly (this time I added in the baby spoons, some sharper knives, etc) We have two dish bins – one for soapy water and one for rinsing water, and a dish rack to dry the dishes after. All the kitchen basics are here!
While we’re camping we usually bring some extra supplies for art, some toys to play with, and some books. Typically we bring a lot more than necessary but it’s nice to have some back up activities in case it rains and we’re stuck in the tent for a bit. Some of our favourites are lego, hot wheels (because you can make some pretty fun off road adventures out in the woods!), and even just bringing a glue stick and some paper for some nature collages is a great idea!
This year we camped beside the playground – which in THEORY is a great idea. Mom and Dad can hang out by the fire while the kids go play. But honestly, unless you’re there in the off season or during the week where other kids are at school, don’t do it. My kids would rather play in “the wild” as they call it, and there always seemed to be a handful of kids that play … kind of loudly… past dark. And when you have little ones trying to go to sleep, it’s a bit tricky.
That said!! I don’t have a photo of it – but I always bring our Conair sound machine. We got this thing from London Drugs when the twins were babies and I swear we’ve rarely turned it off since. It takes batteries and runs all night and for camping it just drowns out the “loud” quiet that happens and lulls the kids to sleep. Honestly, I love it too because I don’t wake up at every little sound in the night with it on!
We always bring our bikes (and we usually bring one grown up bike – called our “camp bike” to follow the kids around or even to quickly run to the washroom block instead of walking)
We also bring our nature collectors! Jason loves finding salamanders for the kids to look at. Livvie was so proud of her pink one. She was so gentle when she returned it to its home too.
Here is our “castle” – a cabin tent we got on a crazy great sale at Costco in the US. Apparently it’s a 10-man but it suits us 5 just fine! The door has a pole in it that makes it swing open, and Jason, at 6’7″ can actually stand up tall in it. I am NOT a fan of the regular tent stoop and trying to get dressed, and the basic squishy-ness of a regular tent. It was fine when it was just the 2 of us, but as a family – nope! And since a tent trailer is not feasible at this time, we are quite happy with this little home away from home!
So on the left side of the tent is where we put the kids. All sides of that area actually zip down which is fantastic when we were camping in super hot locations and still needed the littles to nap. Back when we started we’d have the two playpens where their little beds are now and still enough room in the middle for them to play if we needed! Foam mats are a necessity and they make it so much easier to walk and hang out in there. The “shelves” that hold their clothes are just the fabric bins from ikea that fold flat when not in use, and it eliminates the messy bag and shows the kids what they still have left to wear! We bring a large wet bag that I’d gotten for cloth diapering to hold all the laundry as it’s dirtied. When we get home we just dump all of it into the wash!
This year we added the playpen and it really didn’t take up too much extra space. I even brought in a camping chair for the nighttime feeds that I knew Silas would need. The change table on the playpen was also incredibly handy to have!
We use our old rug for the other half of the tent too. Like the foam, it just helps save our feet and the tent floor!
How cute is he in his little sweater romper??? It was pretty cold May Long – and honestly, even in the summer it can get cold in a tent overnight, so I always say pack more warm things than you think you might need. Extra blankets and clothes for sure!
This is the view from the kids side to our side. Two twin air mattresses side by side is the equivalent of a king sized bed, AND has the added bonus of each of us having our own air mattress. Because no one likes being jolted awake in the night by someone getting up to use the bathroom! And having a ton of room in bed is always a great idea because you know those little ones are going to climb in with you in the morning! We use a king sized fitted sheet to hold the mattresses together and then just pile blankets on top!
Those ikea high chairs are GREAT for camping. The legs come off and the whole thing wipes off so easily. Also, check out my mother’s day present from costco this year – only the COMFIEST camp chair EVER. That thing is the best.
We are such glampers that we brought the hammock we got for Christmas. (Black Friday sale on Amazon!) … and why not?
Jason was such a good sport taking the kids out in shifts on the lake! Quite the upper body workout!
Good coffee is a necessity. I mean, you’re getting up with the sun and going all day. We brought our pourover coffee maker but we’ve also brought the starbucks via packets and our french press in the past. What’s important is that it’s there. LOL 🙂
Treat cereal! They get special cereal for camping and for Christmas time! It’s a highlight for sure!
I just had to add this because it was hilarious. Someone at the campsite started this old-school trend. They stuck an old plastic bottle into their rear tire which made their bike sound like a little motorbike. So of COURSE every child at that campsite ALSO needed one. There was a shortage of water bottles this weekend I think. And every time a kid went by on their bike it was loud and sounded like a hive of bees. But it was such old-school classic awesomeness that we couldn’t even be annoyed! Plus, you pretty much could always hear where the kids were!
Daddy/son bonding time – setting squirrel/chipmunk traps. Unsuccessful I might add.
Geocaching!! If you don’t do this, you are considered a “muggle” (non-geocacher) and I mustn’t speak of it. But it’s like treasure hunting, and it’s a lot of fun for the kids. Look it up! Many (dare I say, most) campsites have geocaches hidden. Go check out http://www.geocaching.com and sign up 🙂
So there you go – this is how we camp. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but it’s worth it for the tired kids, exhausted from playing outdoors from dawn until dusk! We’re still refining what we need vs. what we can live without, and honestly it changes year to year. But so far this works for us! I hope you can take something from this and if nothing else just try it out, even for one night! You might be surprised at how possible it really is!