As what we hope is the last of this season’s snowfall melts and temperatures climb, I can’t help but stare longingly at the camping gear I have amassed over the years. Camping is something I’ve always enjoyed ever since I was little, and although the snowboarder in me hates to see the little snow we’ve had leave, I long to be on the trail and in the woods.
Camping with the family can be an uplifting and very enjoyable experience, especially if you’ve got a few little ones tagging along. Seeing young minds take in the wonders of nature and enjoying the purity of play in the great outdoors can be a magical thing. Those are the kinds of experiences that breathe hope and joy into our lives and can invigorate the spirit. However, poor planning can take down even the best camping trips. Here are some helpful tips to remember when planning your next family camping adventure.
Food = Energy
Nothing derails a day faster than hungry kids. As hunger climbs, frustration mounts and energy levels plummet. One minute you’re happily strolling down a scenic trail brushing off muffled cries for food from the smaller members of the group, and the next you’ve got a full-blown, knock down, drag out meltdown. Did I mention it’s mid-morning and you’ve still got an hour or two before snack/nap? The physical stress of hiking can speed up metabolisms and wreak havoc on your meal schedule. Bring plenty of healthy snacks and water and load up your main camp bag (snack idea: apple slices and individual to-go peanut butter packages), as well as any waist packs, day bags, or hydration packs you might be hiking with during the day. With food and water it’s always better to have a little too much than not enough.
Be sure you’re checking the weather reports for the area you’ll be visiting and pack accordingly. Nothing breaks the moral of the trip like soaking wet gear and campers. Taking emergency ponchos, rain gear, or insulating layers with you when you venture from camp can make all the difference. This is especially true if you are camping more than a mile above sea level, as summer afternoons and evenings at these heights are known to spawn freak inclement weather and temp changes.
Unfortunately, at some point the wonders of the outdoors may not cut it for entertainment anymore. Having a few backup toys, books, or other things from home can give you that precious extra time you need to set up camp, get dinner going, or just avoid a tantrum. Shovels, buckets, and other simple sandbox toys work perfectly. They’re light, easy to use, and work on everything from dirt and sand to snow. As for the books, you’ll be glad for the bedtime story routine when you’re trying to battle the effects of a poorly timed s’more feast.
All the planning in the world sometimes isn’t enough to keep a trip from taking a wrong turn. So at the end of the day, when your 3 year old has you on the ropes and you’re too tired to play nice anymore, just take a breather and remember why you’re there. These types of family outings are all about the family time, the experiences, and the memories we’re making. Leave work and any stressful thoughts at home. Your desk and your boss will be there come Monday, don’t let them infringe on your time away from it all. Breathe in that clean, fresh air and take a moment to gain some perspective, because family is too valuable and vacations are too short. Don’t forget to pick up a few kids fleece layers to help stay warm on those chilly nights around the fire.