Sometimes when people find out we go camping with a two year old and a four month old they’re a little shocked. Reactions range from admiration to wondering if a call to child protective services is in order. Fortunately nobody has done the latter…yet. Nevertheless, Audrey and I love being outdoors so even though we don’t make it out as much as we used to, we have gone camping several times with the kids. We just got back from an especially pleasant trip to Maroon Bells, near Aspen, Colorado and feel to share with all of you some of the pearls of wisdom we have learned on how to be successful in roughing it with our posterity.
- Reserve a campsite. If you have a place to camp for sure that you’ve already paid for, you’re less likely to back out like we did a few months ago the first time we planned on going to Maroon Bells.
- Make simple food. This time rather than make some dutch oven menagerie that wouldn’t be done cooking until 10pm, we had hot dogs and corn on the cob.
- Let the little ones explore nature. Cooper did a lot of the hikes/walks on foot this time and had a blast. Giving him the opportunity to enjoy nature on these trips while he is small will help him want to do more when he is older. (I have no empirical evidence to back this claim.)
- Have a backup plan. However, there will surely be those times when you are halfway there and the kid has a meltdown. This happened to us, but we had brought the baby wrap in the pocket of the baby carrier so we could move Ellen to that and put Cooper in the backpack as a contingency plan. Had we not done this it could have been a very long hike back to the car.
- Don’t expect to do what you used to do. Before kids we’d plan and do days of hiking 20 miles to get away from the crowds and see the areas most other people don’t get to. Not so anymore and that’s okay.
- Naptime. All that hiking wore Cooper out. Ellen too. Taking time for a nap was a nice break for them and us. We even got in a game of Scrabble.
- Keep them warm.Do whatever it takes. Onesie, socks, Fleece pajamas, hat, many blankets = full night’s rest. Cooper even ate his breakfast in his car seat wrapped in a blanket one morning before the sun peeked over the mountains.
- Driven to Sleep.Going to sleep in a tent can be difficult for a toddler, so sometimes we’ll drive him around until he zonks out. We’ve had mixed success with this and with gas prices so high it’s hardly worth it, so your mileage may vary.