Any Words of Wisdom? Camping with Kids

We’re preparing for our first camping trip in nearly three years.

The last time we went camping, Katie had just turned one.


She had the most amazing time.

She worked up a serious thirst…

…got truly dirty for the first time in her short life…

…greeted her first dawn by the campfire…

…and learned the simple joy of hunting for rocks and collecting them in a bucket.

We couldn’t have asked for an easier trip. She was totally in her element. We sat and watched her in complete amazement.

This time?

We’re adding Matthew to the mix and I’m a little afraid.

We’re prepared to chase him all over the campground, because when we call out for him to stop, he just giggles and runs faster.

I’m hoping that those of you who have camping experience can help us with something.

If you have camped with kids, what are three things that we MUST bring with us?

What tips would you share on camping with small children for the toilet situation? Do you recommend composting toilet?

Are there any tricks that we should know?

We’re going to need all the advice we can get!


  1. MamaWantsThis

    Nichole, I have no advice. I have never been camping although my husband has suggested it many times. So I wish you good luck!! And have a lovely time!

  2. Natalie

    Bring things for entertainment like bubbles, puzzles & coloring books. Let the kids have their own flash light too

  3. What adorable pics! We haven't taken the boys camping yet, I guess we aren't much for camping. But now, I want to go. Because it looks so adorable.

  4. No advice to offer since I haven't gone camping in 8 years. The thought of going with the kids frightens me. But the pictures of your first camping trip are precious! What a cutie! Good luck!

  5. mommysparadise

    I never went camping with my tot (so far), so no real life tips. But in addition to the entertainment things Nathalie mentioned I think all depends on the camp site. Just keep them busy with supervised 'physical' games, e.g. playing ball, swimming, exploring nature … And they will drop dog tired at the end of the day, same as you ;-).

  6. Krista

    I have no advice for you, but those pictures of Katie are so wonderful. What a sweet baby she was. Good luck camping. I can't wait to hear how it goes.

    Oh, wait… advice: take any and all comfort items that the kiddos have. (duh!)

  7. Kelly

    Ha! We have a Matthew also…and would do exactly the same thing/giggle and run. Little stinker- must be the name! :)
    Bring flashlights, s'more stuff & bugspray. (oh & wipes to clean the bug spray off hands before eating) and every one should have their own chair. You wil
    Have so much fun!! :)

  8. tracy

    I have no advice except to stay at a hotel. OMG I hate camping. Good for you though.

    Oh, here is my advice – have your husband take them while you go to a spa. Okay, that is what I would do.


  9. We go camping every year so I consider myself a pro ;)
    Plenty of clothes and a rope to hang clothes on
    Be prepared for dirt
    We bought a "shelter"/gazebo thing and put tarp on the bottom. That way if it rained we had a shelter to let our son play in without getting dirty
    Finger food snacks
    If I think of anything else I'll tweet you ;)

  10. Peggy

    Awesome! Where are you going camping? I've camped with my kids all their lives. Piece of cake, you've totally got this.
    Just bring plenty of extra clothes, sunscreen, and bugspray, and they'll be fine. If you have room in the car, bring their tricycles, and/or outdoor push toys. A sand bucket can be handy (if no sand, then for catching frogs). And maybe you could buy one of those cheap kiddy bug catchers and catch fireflies. Katie needs to experience fireflies as a nightlight :o)
    Don't worry about them getting dirty. Funny this about kids, one bath, and they're as good as new!

  11. Jen Has A Pen

    I have no advice, but I do LOVE these pictures of Katie. She's got the brightest, sweetest, most sparkly eyes. I love the picture of the two of you laying together. So sweet.

  12. I am combing through these comments with a fine-toothed comb! We are taking both kids camping in a few weeks. It's only for one night, and I am still freaking out. Dylan is the same way as Matthew; he thinks it's hilarious when we tell him to stop!

    Although your pictures of the adorable Miss Katie camping make me feel like maybe we'll survive the weekend :)

  13. Kir

    I don't have any WISDOM or ADVICE, mostly because I hate camping with the heat of a thousand suns. *ahem* :)

    but I had to comment on how CUTE Katie was back then (she is now too…) but WOW, what a gorgeous representation of that time…it almost made me want to go camping.

    wait! ….. NOPE it didn't ;)

    have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Flashlights – and lots of extra batteries. My son loved doing EVERYTHING by flashlight when we first took him camping! :)

  15. supermomboots

    I am going to take notes on the advice you get. We are considering camping for the first time with our kids soon too and I am a little terrified!! In fact I think I like tracy's advice very much. Don't think the hubby would go for it though :)

  16. Leigh Ann

    When I was pregnant with R&C, some friends gave us a huge camping set for Christmas because we had all gone together and loved it pre-kids. We have yet to use it. They (with their one kid) asked if we were interested in going camping nearby a few weeks ago (with our 3 kids ages 3 and under). I believe my response was "Are you f*#^ing kidding me?!?!?!?!?!" Or something along those lines. I could probably handle a day trip, but I can't imagine trying to get all 3 of my kids asleep in an unfamiliar area, especially since the big girls are still in cribs.

  17. Cate

    I have no camping advice, but Katie was TOO CUTE!

  18. michonmichon

    All I know is S'Mores!!

    I suck at camping.

    Have fun though.

  19. Nancy C

    We played hard, until the boys were exhausted. That made bedtime easier. We also had special chairs for the boys, and little tent where they could chill out.

  20. julie gardner

    Best. Advice. Ever.

  21. julie gardner

    The sunblock, bug spray, wipes suggestions are great. Also bring a table cloth. The tables are usually really dirty.

    Plus, bring extra toilet paper even if there are bathrooms because they sometimes run out. (And I really hope there are bathrooms… :-0

    If you're feeling creative, you could bring baggies so the kids can collect treasures while they "explore" (with your supervision of course) or if you go for hikes.

    If you have glue and construction paper, they can make collages of their discoveries. You can make up stories together and write them at the bottom of each page. Homemade camping books. Yay!

    (This advice is coming from the LEAST crafty person on the planet, but I liked my kids to do stuff that didn't involve their same toys from home, too.)

    And then, when all else fails, fall back on wine.

    Don't forget the wine. :-)

  22. Lyndsey

    I brought rain boots for Max so all the dirt didn't get inside his pants and socks. It worked well at night too if I gave him a shower I would just slide the boots on over his PJ's. Also my favorite thing a friend brought was glow necklaces. It helped us keep track of the kids in the campsite all night long. Max also loved bringing a bug collecting kit (got it at the dollar store)….have fun!!!!

  23. lilyalayne

    How old is the little sprinter? I guess what you really need is something to keep him really busy and interested when you need to put up the tent, make the fire, cook, etc. And if he runs? What do you do when you are other places? Could you have a little stash of surprises to lure him back when he wants to bolt? Or maybe engage him in a favorite activity right before you undertake something requiring both adults?

    The warm bedding and tons of extra clothes is the absolute most important thing. My husband teases me for bringing way too much stuff. I would rather not use it and look silly than not have it and need it. Bug spray to keep them from getting itchy is important too. Novel toys and a list of things to do while you are there for those important moments. Trikes/Bikes? Or push toys (not sure how old they are)? Games? And if they are old enough to understand, i always do a really solid bribe for my kids if they fill in a whole sticker chart (almost entirely dependent on going to sleep well). We don't do these charts normally but while camping they are very helpful. I would also suggest really taking notice of your camping neighbors and letting them know ahead what you are going to be dealing with. If they look like loud college kids or rowdy drinkers you might consider switching spots!!! :)

  24. ksluiter

    first? WINE IN A BOX was made for camping.

    and then i am done because I only go camping once a year and that is because it is mandatory. We don't take Eddie because we go canoeing and that would be, well, not good.

    also? I hate camping. so you know, boxed wine.

  25. sherrikuhn

    OK, first off I have to get this out of the way. How CUTE was Katie??! Wow, adorable.

    Wine/beer is essential for the campfire, but you already know that one! My kids love camping, but each new stage of their little lives brought a new challenge with it! I can't wait to see the pictures!

  26. John

    I have friends in Georgia & Virginia who we used to get together with 3-4 times a year to go camping. Then the couple in Georgia went & had twins (this was before my wife & I decided to have two of our own). To make things "easy," when we got back to camping, we rented a cabin, and it worked quite well. The kids sure got dirty, but we didn't have to worry about striking a tent in the middle of a downpour.

    It wsa certainly "cheating," but it worked so very well. I'm going to start taking my two out on hour/two hour hikes this summer, and we're hoping to get back to "tent camping" this fall. I'll check back to see what advice you've received.

  27. Tonya

    Great advice above and I will be checking back for more.

    I love the wine comments the best! :)

    I'm not a huge fan of camping, but I think one of the reasons my husband wanted kids was so that he could take them. A tent and chairs arrived on my doorstep just last weekend he has a weekend booked for late October to take Lucas. I've been told that I'm invited, of course.

  28. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    Oooh, those pictures of Katie…But my fave is the one where you're gazing at her, showing so much love…

    Trying to envision a scenario in which camping with a toddler sounded like fun. Can you imagine Xander? He'd probably find a bear and ride it.

  29. What a fun post! Your daughter is too cute, I love the "extreme thirst" picture! Hope you had a great time :)

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