This summer we were blessed with an abundance of quality family time! We managed to head out to the great out doors and camp for three different weekends throughout the summer. We did one weekend just the three of us and then two with family (one with Matt’s family and another with mine). We had so much fun and are planning on a few longer trips next spring/summer.
We are big fans of camping for several reasons but here’s a few to share:
1. No technology. The only benefit to having a cell phone plan with terrible service is whenever we are away we can’t use our phones. It’s amazing how often we get distracted by our phones and it’s always so refreshing to be away and break the habit.
2. It’s a cheap family vacation. For a premium campsite at a Provincial Park without electricity you’re looking at spending $43.22 per night! You seriously can’t ask for a better price than that. You can still get cheaper sites depending on discounts (ie Seniors or individuals with disabilities) or if you really want to rough it get a site that doesn’t have a shower station. Food is cheap too! Bringing your own food for the vacation certainly cuts costs, especially when you shop around for deals and plan your meals ahead of time.
3. Great bonding time. When you commit to camping you need to be flexible. You never know what weather, what kind of neighbours, roaming animals, or mood your kids are going to be in. There are certainly some challenging moments but no matter good or bad they definitely bring the family closer together. When Matt and I took Hannah for her first camping weekend it was well below 0 degrees at night and Hannah decided to cut a tooth. The site was soaking wet when we arrived and we were swarmed by mosquitoes – not an ideal situation for camping with a 9 month old! I ended up spending the night in the car with a screaming baby and Matt trying to get our Labradoodle to sleep on the air mattress with him so he didn’t freeze to death! It was a crazy adventure but we have a good story to laugh about now 🙂 Camping with family involved a crazy rain storm where we were stuck under a giant tarp and the boys dug trenches around our tent. Camping with Matt’s family involved more rain and raccoons getting into our food while we were at the camp fire! The weekends also provided some great hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and plenty of time to reconnect with family without distractions.
Even though Matt and I both grew up camping we learned a few things about camping with a baby.
Tips for camping with an infant:
1. Bring extra warm clothes and blankets! Camping in May was freezing to say the least. I was very glad we had extra blankets, a winter toque for Hannah and warm fleece jammies. Next time we go camping in the spring we will be considering an electrical site where we can bring a little space heater for our tent 🙂
2. Plastic tub for bath time. The first weekend we went camping Hannah was not impressed with the camping showers. The showers are quite tiny so it was difficult for us to try to bathe her and change her. She also started crying as soon as we entered the shower ( I don’t blame her lol). The next time we brought a small plastic tub that we filled in the shower and bathed her in . She was much more comfortable in there and she could splash around with her toys. It also prevented us from getting soaking wet while bathing her!
3. Baby carriers are life savers! I love love love baby carriers. Right now we have a Snugli carrier that Hannah loves. I used it while I cooked and Matt worked on our fire. We also used it for the hiking trails that we could not take our jogging stroller on.
4. Extra Pack-n-play if you have one. We used one for Hannah to sleep in and one for outside the tent. It kept her sleeping space fresh and clean and we didn’t have to worry about it getting damp in the rain.
5. Make your meals ahead of time. We made Chilli the night before we left and enjoyed it on one of cold evenings. Making dinners on the little camping stove take more time so it was great just to heat it up when we were hungry! Here’s a link to an easy and basic Chilli recipe. I usually add two peppers, mushrooms, a can of 6 bean melody, occasionally bacon, and grated cheese to it. We usually have enough for lunch the next day too. We also prepare tacos for a dinner. We will marinate and cook our favorite meat (either chicken, steak, or a roast) and bring all of our pre-cut toppings (peppers, salsa, grated cheese, mushrooms, onions, sour cream, and tomatoes). We either heat it all up on the stove or cover them in tinfoil and heat them up in the fire.
6. Outdoor toys. We never bring a lot of toys for Hannah. In an SUV with a dog and a jogging stroller we are usually cramped for space with all of our gear. We use a roof box but we are still pretty limited. We usually bring some board books and then hard plastic toys that can handle the dirt and grime. She loves “building” sand castles aka eating pounds of sand on the beach and is fascinated by our dog catching/eating bubbles. She’s usually distracted enough by our natural surroundings and family that she doesn’t even play with most of the toys we bring.
7. Travel Sound Machine. Hannah sleeps with a sound machine at home so we decided to bring a small battery-powered one with us. We were definitely grateful that we did! Unfortunately, you can guarantee at least one rowdy neighbour and a tent screen isn’t going to keep the noise out. Thankfully with the sound machine and a full day of activity our little one slept better than we did.
I know camping is not for everyone, but for our family it was a great way to have a fun and cheap vacation surrounded by God’s beautiful creation. I really encourage any family, no matter what age your kids are, to try even just for one night and enjoy all the experience has to offer.
Hope you had a great summer!