We Went Camping!

I went camping for the first in almost 17 years. I did it with two small children, and it was so much fun! So I decided to write a blog on this for my future camping self and other first time campers with kids. Camping was such a fun family experience. Here are some tips and tricks I learned. I've suggested mostly items I used because they worked well for us. 

First, find a good camping site. There is a lot to do if you pick the right spot. We went with a group of homeschooling friends. There were 10 families all together. The campsite was local, only 45 minutes from home. It was on a lake, so we had a beautiful scenery. There were lots of amenities. This is important to note because all campsites are not created equal. Each site was equipped with electricity, water, and a picnic table. Onsite activities included walking trails, bathroom, shower houses, a beach area for swimming, and a playground. It was a great site for beginner camping.

Second, don't overwhelm yourself. Start with a short trip. We did 3 days and 2 nights. It was perfect for starting out. Try it out and then decide if you like it enough to try it again. You can always rent camping equipment or resell it if you change your mind. Camping to me is about simplicity, and I tried to use this this in every aspect as I prepared. The list below might seem like a lot, but it's the "basics". I forgot a tablecloth, but luckily had our picnic blanket in the car and used that; worked like a charm. Our meals were simple. I only needed a skillet, a cooler and 2 bags of ice to keep our food. I also brought foods that would be find without refrigeration, in case the ice melted before we had time to get more. Most of my meals didn't need much prep. I prepared as much as I could at home, so I didn't have to do much when I get there. And I bought convenient items like individually wrapped snacks and milk. Here's what our meal planned looked like.

Friday Night: Burritos (prepared at home and warmed at campsite) and Fruit. This was the only thing I cooked on the grill all weekend. I used easy light bags (pictured below). It made our first campsite meal authentic and easy.

  • Rice, Cheese, and beans
  • Apples, pears, oranges

Snack: S'mores (a camping MUST)

  • Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Nutella spread also works great.

S'mores Pop

1 box fudge brownies

2 eggs (**for brownies)

1/2 vegetable oil (**for brownies)

1 bag graham cracker, crushed

1/2 cup of mallow bits (mini marshmallows)

1 package of chocolate

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Cake pop sticks

Candy bags with string

Make brownies (follow recipe) and let cool. Mix crushed graham crackers and mallow bits together in a bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave or double broiler with coconut oil. Break up brownies into crumbs and roll into balls. Freeze ball after rolling for 5 to 10 mins. You should get 15 to 30 depending on size you roll. Dip balls into chocolate then into graham cracker mixture. Freeze again for 10 to 15 minutes before packaging. Package and enjoy!

Saturday Morning: Pancakes, Veggie bacon, and Fruit (pancake mix in a jar) 

  • You can use water or milk for pancakes, I used individual, unrefrigerated Silk soymilk

Snack: cucumbers and goldfish

  • Cucumbers were peeled and sliced beforehand

Lunch: Stir-Fry with rice and veggies

  • Rice was premade and veggies were already washed and chopped. Made the sauce beforehand
  • Choose veggies that keep well cold or room temperature. I used broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
  • The sauce was 2/3 soy sauce and 1/3 brown sugar. With crushed pepper optional. 
  • Rice was microwaveable, but I warm it in a skillet with a few tablespoons of water and oil
  • Tofu was prepared beforehand. I drained it and let it sit on paper towel for 15 minutes. Then I cut and season (fresh garlic and ginger, salt, and pepper) it. Then baked it for 20 mins at 415 degrees. Placed in a air-tight container. And it was ready to go!

Snack: Carrots and Applesauce

Dinner: Spaghetti and Salad

  • You can either boil spaghetti at home or bring fresh pasta. I boiled my fresh pasta in my skillet. 
  • Made my salad dressing

Sunday Morning: Granola and Fruit

  • This was supposed to be our meal. But we had some leftovers so we ate that instead. 

I opted to use paper plates instead of reusable plates. I was unsure of water situation, so I didn't want to chance it. I would definitely recommend useable plates and utensils since it's more environmentally friendly. Make sure to bring reusable containers or resealable bags for any leftovers.

Lastly, I suggest planning and prepping early. Like super early... make a list, check it twice. It takes a while to get things together for the first time, so start early. Get the kids involved, get them excited. I bought each kid their own sleeping bag and flashlight. It helps ease the anxiety of being in a new place to sleep. We bought a new tent, but there are plenty of places you can rent gear from like this. You will likely spend the most when you go camping the first time, but you'll be set for the next time. Here are some essentials I suggest taking:

  • bug spray (my favorite...I literally bathed in this stuff all weekend!)
  • sunscreen
  • towels/washcloths
  • flashlights/lanterns
  • blankets/sleeping bags/pillows
  • Tent/tarp (found the tent at Costco for $189)
  • shower shoes
  • playpen (optional, but so useful if you have space)
  • clothes line (to hang towels or wet clothes)
  • garbage bags
  • extension cord
  • raincoat/rain boots
  • cooler
  • ice
  • clothes that can get dirty
  • Swim clothes
  • dishwashing soap/sponge/towel for drying
  • bins with lids for food storage
  • air mattresses/pad for sleeping (online forums help in deciding) 
  • Chairs
  • 2 water containers (one for drinking and one for hand (dish) washing)
  • Toys (balls, buckets, shovel...outside toys)
  • firewood

I thought camping with kids would be more difficult than it was. But it turned out to be a blast.