When people found out we were still going camping this year — with two under two in tow — the reaction was usually some combination of shock and awe. John and I weren’t entirely sure what we were getting into, either, but figured our general parenting strategy of keeping our expectations low would serve us well. And it did! We had the best time with the Rays and our little ladies, and can’t wait for the next trip. (We’re even considering upping our frequency to twice a year!) Here are a few thoughts from our experience camping with an eight-month-old and a 1.5 year old, along with a few photos from Nancy! (Except the ones at the end, which are obviously by me :))
— Had we not camped recently and been familiar with our gear, I think bringing the babies would have been much more overwhelming. Since we were, the only new aspect was the girls.
— We upgraded from our ultralight backpacking tent to the REI Kingdom 6 thanks to a generous Christmas present. It felt like a palace! It zips down the middle to create two separate rooms, which made coming and going while June was sleeping much easier.
— Milly’s and June’s ages both had pluses and minuses. Milly, at 1.5, could walk, so she could more easily explore the campsite, whereas June would sometimes get frustrated because she wanted to move but it was uncomfortable to crawl over the rough terrain (pinecones, stones, etc.). She was mostly confined to the big blanket we spread out.
— Milly being older, however, made sleep a little harder to come by in the Ray’s tent. She was more aware that she was IN a tent (and thought it was a bit weird), and that her parents were sleeping an arm’s length away (party!), whereas June just went down in her pack and play and had a normal night’s sleep.
— Make sure you allow even more time than you think you’ll need to set up camp and get everyone fed before the sun goes down. Previously, John and I would have set up our tent together, but since someone was on June duty the whole time this time, set-up took longer that it used to.
— We were not confident that the kiddos would nap in the tents during the day, so instead of trying to put them down, we opted to drive to a hike that was about 45 minutes away. They both slept on the way there and on the way back, so although they didn’t nap as long as they might have on a normal day at home, they did have a chance to sleep.
— Packing in big, clear, plastic Rubbermaid tubs is the best! They’re easy to stack, don’t rip like paper bags, and make it easy to see what’s stored where.
— As you’re considering campgrounds, weigh nicer bathrooms pretty heavily in the equation. The ones at Blue Bear are clean, well-appointed, and single-stall, which just makes everything much more pleasant. We also opted for one of sites closer to the bathrooms (though still half a football field away) because we knew we’d be making more frequent trips.
I hope these observations and tips encourage you to give camping a try, whether or not you have kids! I look forward to our camping weekends all year, and I imagine they’ll be even more fun as our crew gets older. I would love to answer any questions you might have or try to allay any concerns, so feel free to ask away!
P.P.S. I love our conversations here. Last week I added a reply button in the comments section to make it easier to respond more directly to individual contributions, so feel free to try it out!