Spring is a great time to get friends and family together and go camping. Never been camping before with kids, or ever? No worries! We are here to help!
First things first..decide where to go.
One of our favorite places to camp when the kids were little and even today is at the lake. This is where we do most of our “car” camping. What’s “car” camping, you ask? It’s basically where we pack everything but the kitchen sink for the camping trip! For this type of camping, it is usually at a campground where we reserve a site ahead of time.
What do I need to bring with me?
If this is your first time camping, chances are you are going to have to purchase a good amount of items. The upfront cost can be expensive, but once you have essential camping equipment, it’s a pretty cheap weekend getaway! I always suggest purchasing good quality gear up front. It may cost more, but in the long run, you will not be replacing it as often, if at all!
How many people are you going to sleep in the tent? On the outside of the text bags/boxes, it will show you how many people can sleep in that tent. If it shows 4 people on the box, technically 4 people can sleep in that tent. That does not account for clothing bags and gear that you have in the tent with you. Usually, if I am trying to fit my family of 4 in one tent I use a 6 – 8 person tent to account for all of our gear and sleeping. If you have smaller kids a 6 person will be just fine. Now that my kids are 16 and 18 we use an 8 person tent.
2. Sleeping Bags
Sleeping bags have different temperature ratings. I recommend a sleeping bag with a 32-degree rating and a fleece sleeping bag for a few different reasons. The first reason is, in the summer months I use the 32-degree bag underneath me for more padding and then I cover up with a fleece. The second reason is, in the fall/winter/spring I use my 32-degree bag as my main bag and then I can put the fleece inside if I need it for more warmth.
Tarps have all kinds of usage when camping. We use one under our tent to keep moisture from seeping under our tent and getting inside the tent. We also hang one above our tent so that way if it rains and we get out of our tent we are covered from the weather. And we put one above the cooking area in case of rain so we don’t get wet while cooking! Plus it gives us a dry place to sit and eat or play games. Do not buy cheap tarps! They will tear up after a few uses and you will have to keep replacing them.
4. Head Lamp and/or flashlight
When the sun goes down, you are going to want a flashlight or a headlamp. There are about 10 billion options available. My favorite is the MagLite SP2201H Black Mini Flashlight. It is small enough for little kid hands or for it to fit in my pockets but powerful enough to shine a good bit of light so I can see where I am going.
5. Cooking Gear
I cook at a campsite just like I do at home. Really..I do!! I have two camping boxes just for cooking equipment, including a full-size coffee maker. I must have my coffee by the pot full, there is not an exception to this. You are going to want a camping stove, fuel for the stove, pots, and pan to cook in, plates, cups, bowls, mixing bowls, soap, something to wash dishes in and to rinse them with. I literally bring everything under the sun but the kitchen sink!
I could go on and on with stuff that you need to bring with you camping. REI has a pretty great list already made up that you can use to make sure that you have everything that you need! You can find the Camping Checklist here. You will not necessarily need everything on the list but it is a great guide to get you started.
Camping is a great way to get out of town and away for a weekend with the family. It helps to decompress and let the stress melt away. Camping always helps me regroup and get centered again. With the kids older now we seem to all be moving is different directions and never seem to be home together anymore, so it is wonderful to reconnect with my family!