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Camping with Children

Keep It Simple.
Often looking through outdoorsy magazines, I’m tempted to purchase so many gadgets I'd need a U-haul to bring everything, and a separate barn to store it. We camp once a year (maybe), and must store it the rest of the year.

Keep in mind: food—first, sleep—second and everything else must be minimized.

FOOD
After years of fighting bees, flies and dirt trying to prepare meals at the campsite, I've found the answer—Tin-foil Meals. No more slaving at the campsite while the boys are at the lake or hiking or standing around starving. No more bulky pans. No more forgetting serving spoons. No more forgetting something major for a meal. No dishes to clean. 

Tin-foil meals are prepared and cooked at home and just re-grilled and served.(Or can be cooked at camp, but we're too hungry to wait.)
Open the individual foil packs and eat with a fork or fingers (depending on the meal.)

Need recipes for Tin-foil meals?
Try these, now our family’s new favorites (with or without camping).

FIRE
We use a small grill with fuel to speed cooking while fire is made for dessert. And for quick morning meals before hiking.
We also have a one-burner stove with camp kettle for heating water for tea, hot chocolate, chai. Can also hold a pot for omelets in a bag (just boil water, put eggs in ziplock bag with left-overs to make individualized omelets.)

Techniques to save time
Have separate boxes, see camp list for details
Box 1: (NO FOOD, Leave on the picnic table)
           Remainder of boxes will be stored in bear storage unit, provided at campsite.
Box 2: Beverages Box
Box 3: Dessert Box: makings for S’mores, cones, stuffed bananas (See recipes for details)
Box 4: Snacks: trail mix, jerky, chex mix, granola bars,

ICE CHESTS
Layer 1: freeze water bottles for drinking later, keeps food cold but not soggy
Layer 2: foil meals (label well, all foil looks alike)
Separate Ice Chests:
For quick lunches: cheese, meat, condiments (use squeeze lids to minimize time making sandwiches)
For taco fixings: salsa, sour cream, cheese, (Used for Mexican meals later), lettuce (already chopped), Doritos,
                            meat and beans heated with taco seasoning (kept in separate thermal box)

Make lantern for table by turning head flashlight inside on one-gallon water jug

WASH STATION

Tie soap to spigot using old sock or nylon.
Attach rag or paper towels to top.


Toilet paper roll placed in a coffee container with a slit for dispensing and a bungee cord for hanging on tree or table makes it accessible.

SLEEP
We bring one tent for me and little ones (when we had them). Older boys sleep under stars.
Invest in good sleeping bags with protection against dampness.
Cushion padding seems enough (sleeping won’t be like home, take Tylenol in AM and move on)

EVERYTHING ELSE
When you put nine sleeping bags in the Excursion, no matter how small you squish them, they still take up lots of room. A cargo carrier on roof helps. We had two vehicles this past camping trip. That was a luxury. 
I remember taking the boys mountain biking. Try fitting 10 bikes and luggage and food in an Excursion with people. Without saying much, it was MUCH.

CLOTHING
Minimize clothing. But prepare for cold by layering: a light coat with hood, and a light long sleeve shirt plus t-shirts.
Boys have learned after carting around everything that "Less is Better," "Layer with Cold," and "Clean is soon dirty" (so they just stay dirty and get dirtier.)

CHAIRS (we only have four, remember space)

GAMES (Remember space)
Toddlers: bubbles, glow sticks, balls, beach toys. Remember a stick can make a little one happy.
Checkers, cards, frisbee,
Try making ice cream in a bag

Camping…keep your list from year to year. Here's mine.
Keep camping boxes ready just for camping/hunting/fishing/outdoor trips.
Prep before, enjoy the trip more.
Keep It Simple. (Hot dogs are better than a frazzled mom.)
Less is More.
Make memories and moments with family.
Don’t pack your schedule so full you can’t enjoy the moment.

Because your dirty house isn't staring you in the face, and because you can look around and see God's magnificent creation, you can reflect on Who God is and what He has done. Being in the woods, away from technology, noise, and busyness of normal life helps you remember Him, brings your focus on the important things, the essential things.
God speaks in a quiet, still voice. But you must slow down, and listen.

Sometimes it takes camping to make me do that.



 
Share your tips and memories of camping with children

Ah, this brought back so many great memories of camping, how we all enjoyed it. We'd usually go 2-3 times a year, in the off-season and stay 5-6 days. You are right about being organized, super important. I still have my first list, with everything but from a raft to a diaper pail (our youngest was allergic to disposables!) Everything was done ahead or easily done at the camp. This was MY vacation too! Steve and the kids did all the cleanup, that was wonderful. We hope to go camping again, just the two of us, which will be really different. Thanks for your article, I always enjoy them.

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