Twin Cities Mom Collective

Camping With Young Kids? Yes, You Can Do It!

Camping With Young Kids? Yes, You Can Do It! | Twin Cities Moms Blog

My family and I recently returned from a 10-day road trip that included two cabins, three campgrounds, hundreds of miles, and countless memories. Of those 10 days, four nights were spent in a tent in three different locations. Yes, that is correct. A tent with a four-year old and a 22-month old. And let me tell you, it was so much fun! I know some of you are giving me the side eye right now, and I know that camping is not for everyone, but let me tell you that if you enjoy camping, do not let having kids stop you!

I have to admit, when we go camping we lean more towards the glamping side of camping vs the roughing it type. I often joke to my husband that our raised queen size air mattress we use camping is more comfortable than our bed at home! But none the less, it is still camping. So how do we have fun while camping with two young kids? Here are a few tips we have learned!

Pick a family-friendly campground

When camping, location is very important. There are so many amazing campgrounds within a few hours of the Twin Cities. First I suggest putting together a must have list. Here is our list when camping with the kids:

Must Have List:

Drive-in tent site
Bathroom facility close by
Activities for parents and kids to do
Electricity nice, but not required
Beach or swimming close by

Once you have your list, then you can begin researching campgrounds in the area you would like to go. We love campgrounds that have activities for the kids as well as the adults. The first campground we stayed on our trip was Jellystone Park in Warrens, WI. This is basically a campground on kid steroids. Waterslides, splash pad, lazy river, mini golf, wave pool, craft time, and Yogi and his friends. The kids absolutely loved it here and us parents had a pretty great time as well. Our second stop was Gooseberry Falls. They have great tent sites, clean bathroom facilities, and amazing site seeing. Although there was much less activities for the kids to do here, they still had a great time hiking to see the waterfalls, playing on the beach, and roasting s’mores at the campfire. The last campground stop in Orr, MN was the perfect compromise of the first two stops. We snagged the perfect tent site next to the lake with our own dock and family of ducks to greet us in the morning. They had a great beach, kayaks, playground, water trampoline, and clean facilities.

Preparing for the trip

Be genuinely excited for your camping trip and explain to your kids where you are going camping and what it will all include. Kids often feed off of our behavior so if you are excited, chances are they are going to be too! Also, get them involved in the packing. Our daughter has a small backpack that whenever we travel on the weekends, she will pack all of her must have toys in there to bring with on the trip.

Equipment tips

Tent: When camping with kids, the easier setup the better for us. We invested in a 10-man Coleman Instant Tent. This tent is big enough for all of us with room to spare and the best part is that we can have it setup in less than 5 minutes. I am sure if we timed it, it probably would be more like two minutes! Another great feature is the room divider. Our youngest daughter doesn’t sleep the best in the same room as us so we put her on her own side of the tent and put up the room divider and she slept great!

Beds: We have a raised queen sized air mattress for us, a toddler sized air mattress for our four-year old that she loves, and a pack’n’play for our youngest. The pack’n’play fits in the tent nicely and since our daughter is used to sleeping in one at daycare and when we travel, she feels comfortable in it and makes sleeping much easier.

Camping With Young Kids? Yes, You Can Do It! | Twin Cities Moms Blog
Chairs : When camping, we always bring our camp chairs for around the fire and have two smaller ones for the girls. Most sites have a picnic table, but having separate chairs is much easier when relaxing by the fire.

Noise machine: Both of our girls sleep with a noise machine. We have an app on our cell phone so when we travel we can put the noise on when it is time to sleep. This helps block out the noise outside the tent and also helps as it is part of their normal bedtime routing.

Backpack carrier: Chances are if you are camping, you might walk around the campground or do some hiking. Our youngest daughter loves to ride on our back in the ergo which allows us to go places that we can’t with a stroller.

Camping With Young Kids? Yes, You Can Do It! | Twin Cities Moms Blog
Food: Keep it simple. With young kids, you will be busy enough and don’t need to worry about making an elaborate meal. Also, prep whatever you can before you leave on your trip to make mealtime easier.

At The Campsite

Organization: When setting up camp, try to keep everything organized. This will minimize stress of looking for things later.

Include the kids: Make sure to involve the kids in the setup and tear down. Our oldest is always so proud of herself when she makes her bed and gets her side of the tent all ready.

Enjoy the outdoors: Have a campfire, go for a hike, go swimming, catch frogs, the list goes on and on of all the fun outdoor things you can introduce your kids to while camping.

Relax and enjoy: Kids’ schedules are probably going to go out the window when camping, but go with the flow, relax, and enjoy the quality time with your family.

Camping With Young Kids? Yes, You Can Do It! | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Camping with kids can be a lot of work, but oh so worth it! I can’t wait to go on more camping trips and create more memories with my family this summer!

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K September 4, 2015 at 9:30 PM

Thank you for this great article! Where is the picture with the steps from? Thanks!

Jen Pajerski September 8, 2015 at 8:31 AM

Thanks K! The picture is from St Croix State Park which is just outside of Hinckley.

Suzy Jones May 23, 2016 at 7:20 AM

Cant thank you enough for sharing ur simple but necessary ideas & advice on family camping.Couldnt be better timing w/summer knockn on our doors! I find it so sad knowing majority of Americans miss out on our Great Nations beauty, treasures, parks, natural attractions, phenomenons. Your family trip can be full of options & ideas as the list is affordable, fulfilling and endless. America & camping should go hand in hand. At least the opportunity too exposure yourself to both Rv or tent camping.

Also of all times to dabble in couple camping (which is my setup, unable to have children) or family camping. Wata great time to try it out w/remarkably low fuel costs (& diesel). Tho airliners have yet to pass down the savings, so travel w/airfare, now more than ever is outrageous (an most kno of the billions of profits). Lil too much pinch for the pocket book. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy a good hotel w/ammenities like waterslides and pools, w/the best of em’. But generally that type of travel or vacation will revolve around many fancy attractions, and at an expense that boggles my mind. Couple travel is expensive enough, wen hoteling, can’t imagine a family of 4 purchasing Hopper passes at Disney for under a $1k, b4 airfare – GOOD GRIEF!

Camping or glamping pik your flavor…Its a rich & rewarding experience when getting in tune w/oneself & nature. Relax, it’s the next best thing and travel brings with it exposure to other ways family & friends choose to do it. Nice way to get outa town & packd full a potential. FUN AFFORDABLE EXPERIENCE, quite sure the kiddos will gladly share their travel adventure, make a memories happen & enjoy your Summers. Mental & physically alone, ur biorhymns will sync up & you’l ur best.
Be open to the unknown. Kinda like my beloved Mystery Spot; tourist gizmo (not trap) super-silly fun that create many fun times & memories to build upon. Wata Hoot!

Wouldn’t it be something to box up these fons, tablets & othr techy gadgets that no-doubt will most likely prove to be hazardous in the yrs to come. But to open your mind to opportunities millions have yet to enjoy but rather another summer of chaos & stress rather than relaxing & “normal” (on a dime too!).

Best of luck to you and the many families who enjoy justa a smidge of what Mother Earth and our great nation has to offer. *Pls reachout to all your girlfriends and see if their fam would indeed benefit from an unusual & possibly newfound love for it. We had tag along families, what wonderful times we shared. Shooting Stars & skipping rocks…enuf said♡

Go for it, step outside your comfort zone. No way the stress & razzle-dazzle of our city or suburbia grind can hold a candle to all the fresh air & peace & quiet. Nada problem, all compliments camping, glamping or RV.
SEE YOU THERE, the more the merrier!


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