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Camping with Kids ~ Adventures with your Bell Tent

Camping with kids People often ask me about camping with children, so I thought I'd put together a few notes on the subject ..... We have been camping with our boys since they were babies and camping for us is such a wonderful way to unwind and be together. Camping with kids can be one of life’s simple pleasures.  Whether it’s in a camp ground with 5 star facilities or out in the bush with the bare essentials. Camping trips have the potential to provide wonderful lifelong memories for your whole family. Camping can be as complicated as you like, but like most things simpler often means more successful. Remember the motto 'spend time, not money on your kids', camping is the ideal setting for this approach. Below are some tips to make your trip a success, but first some inspo shots courtesy of Pinterest:

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1. Set up in daylight Depending on the mood of your little fellow travellers, setting up can be a breeze or a nightmare.  Best not to risk a nightmare in the dark.  Arriving at your destination earlier in the day lessens the chance of anyone being frazzled and cranky and you can see if you’re setting up on an ants’ nest! 2. Use a packing list There is nothing worse that arriving at your destination, only to find that you’ve left something at home. Trust me, I know. Perhaps not such a disaster if you’re able to pop to the shops and buy whatever it is (like 5 pillows at Target …), but a real spoiler if you can’t.  More serious is leaving medications and emergency supplies at home. Make a packing list and use it 🙂 3. Keep food simple Kids (not to mention adults) will be ravenous from all that camping fun.  They’ll want lots of food and they’ll want it now.  Simple food with simple preparation is likely to be appreciated just as much as a meal that’s been slaved over.  Save yourself the effort of lavish meals and go enjoy your camping trip.  An added bonus is less stuff and minimal cleanup. We tend to go paleo with grilled meats and fish, salads and griddled vegetables, sweet potatoes cooked in the fire, scalloped in foil with onions. Of course the kids always love pasta with sauce, baked beans on toast or jaffles prepared in the fire for the kids. 4. Be warm Even on a summer camping trip it can get pretty chilly at night.  Make sure the kids are well rugged up for bed (you too, for that matter) so everyone gets a good night’s sleep.  That way, you can all bounce out of bed ready for the days adventures. 5. Get kids involved Kids love the anticipation of a camping trip. At least younger ones do.  But letting the kids help with the planning stages is a great way to get them involved and excited.  The kids love to help set up the camp, this is all part of the adventure. Even the youngest can help with some aspect of the setup once at your destination. Not only does involving them give them a sense of achievement, but it gives them something to do at those times when you are otherwise occupied. 6. Decide what facilities you need There’s an eternal debate about what real camping is.  The diehards would have you believe you that out bush with no amenities, no electricity with only the sights and sound of nature keeping you company is the only way to go. The point is needs are personal.  What suits one family might be unthinkable for you.  Decide what facilities and amenities you need; or at least the very minimum that would make an enjoyable holiday.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not doing it right.  The important thing is getting out there with your family. 7.  Torches for everyone! Torches are essential for after dark and the kids LOVE them. They are also great fun for night walks, spotting wildlife that would be hiding during the day.  It’s amazing how excited the kids get at the sight of a possum.  Everything seems so much more exciting at night! 8. Keep toys to a minimum Kids are amazing at making up games and inventing toys when given the chance.  Giving them the freedom to do just that without toys from home helps develop creativity and independence.  The might even learn something without even trying. That goes for grown up toys, too.  Leaving behind computers, mobile phones and whatever other gadgets usually demand mum’s and dad’s attention makes more time for family. 9. Relax and enjoy I think that one’s self explanatory!  Some holidays are purely put your feet up and do nothing more than put a worm on a hook.  Some are for sightseeing.  Remember that you are on holiday.  Don’t go crazy trying to see and do everything in an unrealistic timeframe.  You’ll pay the price with cranky kids (and likely cranky adults, too). Relax and go home refreshed.  The whole family will be asking to go camping again before you know it. What are your tips for successful camping with kids? Happy travels 🙂      

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11 Responses to Camping with Kids ~ Adventures with your Bell Tent

  1. Kamryn March 25, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    I guess finding useful, reliable initomaofrn on the internet isn’t hopeless after all.

  2. Lorrie March 25, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    I watned to spend a minute to thank you for this.

  3. Sutapa March 25, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    Stay warm, dry, hydrated and well-fed.Each human body puts out beweten 70 and 500 BTU/hr of heat (depending on activity level and available calories). A decent tent will trap some of this heat, to take some of the edge off the cold, but not enough to substitute for the insulation provided by clothing and/or a sleeping bag. The use of type of heater inside a tent is discouraged for safety reasons. So to stay warm, you need an appropriated-rated sleeping and clothing system.(Note that each body also exhales about 8 ounces of water each day, and without adequate ventilation and tent design, this moisture will condense on cold tent surfaces and possibly run down walls to get sleeping bags and other gear wet.)On the sleeping end, your first concern should be a sleeping bag rated appropriately for the lowest temperature expected, with an additional 20*F margin. I.e., if you expect 20*F, your sleeping bag should be rated for 0*F. There’s a few reasons for this: 1.) most sleeping bag ratings are optimistic, and are seldom truly comfortable down at their minimum rating; 2.) it might get colder than predicted during your trip. If you don’t have and can’t afford a properly-rated bag, it is possible to improve a bag’s cold weather performance by using a thermal sleeping bag liner, by doubling-up on sleeping bags (i.e., one inside the other), or by using additional blankets on top of the sleeping bag. In addition to the sleeping bag you will need a foam or insulating air/self-inflating mattress to protect you from the cold, hard ground.As for clothing, use layers of clothing that you can remove or add according to the temperature and activities. It is important to stay warm, but crucial to stay dry. Wet clothing does not insulate as well as dry clothing, although wool, silk and many synthetic materials still provide insulation value when wet. Cotton should be avoided as it becomes a heat conductor (rather than insulator) when wet, and takes a long time to dry. The basic layers are:1. On-Skin (underwear top bottom)2. Base Layer (long johns)3. Outer Layer (thick to thin, depending on activity conditions)4. Wind/Rain shellDon’t forget essentials such as a hat and gloves. If the weather will be wet or you will be very active if would be worthwhile to bring an extra set of underwear, socks and base layer. Aside from the insulation, there are some things you should do to keep warm:1. Drink lots of fluids, particularly warm fluids. But avoid sweetened and/or caffeinated beverages. If your body gets dehydrated it will affect its ability to regulate temperature. Warm beverages help keep your body core temperature high without consuming calories.2. Eat extra calories, particularly fats. Your body will need extra calories to generate heat. Fat provides the ideal fuel for your internal furnace. In particular it is beneficial to eat a hot, high fat meal close to bedtime. 3. Stay active. The more you move the more heat your body generates. Be cautious not to overheat and sweat.Finally, if additional heat is needed you can fill water bottles with hot water, wrap in extra clothing and stuff them inside your sleeping bag. These will need to be refilled every 4 hours or so. You can also use chemical hand warmers that will last 8 to 12 hours.

  4. Halaty March 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    The major differences beeewtn a 3 season and a 4 season tent are that the winter rated tents are designed to be able to support or shed a heavy snow load without the frame breaking or the tent collapsing. They also tend to have the rainfly system designed to maintain a more reliable space beeewtn the fly and inner tent wall to minimize condensation and having the fly press on the tent due to a build up of snow. Winter rated tents tend to have smaller window and ventilation areas and will more often have an exterior vestibule arrangement to block wind and to give you a place to leave snowy gear outside the sleeping area or to cook on the ground but out of the wind during storms.Unless you expect heavy snow loads or severe blizzards and extended bivouacs, a good quality (not discount store) 3 season tent can be perfectly adequate for winter camping. I have winter camped many times with 3 season tents, in fact, probably more often than with my 4-season ones (though I own several tents of each type). If your tent pitches tight so that the fly doesn’t blow around and snap in the wind and has strong poles and a vestibule or good fly overhang over the door, you will most likely be fine in it. For winter camping in snow I always carry a microfiber towel to wipe condensation off the inside of the tent walls at night and before I get out of my bag in the morning. Be certain you have stakes that will work in the ground conditions you will encounter. Fat plastic stakes will not work on frozen ground get the thin metal ones that twist in. If you will be camping in deep snowpack, you will want to be able to make dead man anchors by attaching the guy lines and corner staking tabs to buried stuff sacks that you fill with snow or rocks or tying your guy lines to buried branches. You will probably need to stake the tent more solidly than in warmer weather due to the higher potential for wind. Nothing is worse than watching your dome tent bounce down the mountain and out of sight over a cliff (hasn’t happened to me but I’ve seen it happen to others).

  5. Dawid March 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    No. No. No. No. No. I am a frequent wtnier camper. I camp in snow up to my knees. I camp in open tundra with high winds. I camp at 11,000-13,000 feet. I camp at freezing to sub-zero temperatures. I camp in one of two $300 tents: Fly Creek UL-1, tight 1-person, 2 pounds, and Hubba Hubba, 2-person, 4 pounds. I do not want to carry a much heavier four-season tent five miles up a mountain through knee-deep or better snow. I sleep on a sleeping pad with some insulative qualities. I sleep in a down sleeping bag. I sleep with extra water and a good stove. With a cheap car-camping tent, your support poles of fiberglass will flex and bend and flatten your tent in high winds and under heavy snowfall. However, if you spend a reasonable amount of money on a tent, the frame and tent material strength should provide adequate support under most severe weather circumstances.

  6. Mohammed March 25, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    I’m leaving witihn the hour for three nights at about 7,800 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains right along the north border of Yosemite, Supposed to be a 30% chance of snow tonight, I’m not taking a tent, I’m using a 10 X 12 waterproof tarp.Short answer: No, if you think it may rain or snow take some very lightweight plastic to put over your rainfly to insure you stay dry. Hardware stores sell 9 X 12 plastic, 1 mil, dropcloths for painting, cost a couple of $ and only weighs 2 or 3 ounces. A little insurance goes a long way.

  7. Marie March 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    i can’t believe you have never been capinmg together! i’m shocked! what about that wyoming event with your family, doesn’t that include capinmg?anyway i suspect you two will be hooked as long as you go somewhere beautiful and peaceful and not like i did last week with my hub’s family. can’t wait to see the photos. i bet you’ll be the cutest campers ever.

  8. Tommy March 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    It’s about time soemone wrote about this.

  9. Izabela March 25, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    My fondest chloohidd memories are growing up on Lookout Mountain in Sand Rock, Alabama. The man who owned what is now Cherokee Rock Village would take me and other neighborhood children to pick up rocks. The road to the top was not much wider than a trail. We would have a blast climbing the rocks (long before rock climbing became popular in these parts), and hiking the paths that overlooked Weiss Lake. Wow, is all I remember thinking! We managed to get a lot of work done too. Little River Canyon Mouth Park, Cashes Lake and Yellow Creek are other places where I spent hot summers swimming and exploring. I remember taking off with a few other friends to explore the falls at Yellow Creek around noon and not figuring out where we were at until well after dark. Our parents were upset but they knew we were okay and would find our way home or someone that knew the family. Young explorers were we!I have many great memories of where I grew up. It is truly a blessing to be connected to nature. My passion for the outdoors has led me to be an advocate for the environment. I now teach in the outdoors with an organization my husband founded in 2008. We get to help plant memories in children today or rekindle a fire in adults who have been disconnected from nature. I share my life with my husband Billy and three wonderful daughter’s, Haven, Caitlyn, and Ellie. We live a the foot of Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama. Our organization, One World Adventure Company is a grassroots 501(c)3 that provides Outdoor Education programs to local youth and families. Life is good! 10 months ago

  10. Jodie March 25, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    I grew up living my life oudtoors. Our neighborhood was very wooded, with a creek and lakes. My favorite plant to find in the shady woods was wild ginger–red rooted and so sweet smelling. My grandmother taught me the names of things in nature–birds, creatures, and plants. She thought that was important–to know the names of things. She also told me that fairies lived in the woods, but I never did see one of those. 10 months ago

  11. Yusuf March 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow Angie, sounds like a wudrenfol place to grow up and thanks for sharing that with us! A perfect example of how growing up and connecting to nature at a young age can really stick with you and become such an important factor later in life. Thanks for your work in outdoor education. Tell others about our site and please tell us more about your Adventure Company when you have a chance. 10 months ago

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