Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

June 2, 2011

Can We Talk About Camping?

saturday midday
FROM MY ANNUAL COASTAL EXCURSION WITH FRIENDS | SUMMER 2010

The Edwards’ family is planning a camping trip.

It’s been way too long since we last camped (I think the last time we did was before either of the kids were born) and I would love to read about product suggestions, activities your family enjoys while camping, best tips for camping with a toddler/kids, recipe suggestions, what I’m most likely to forget, etc.

We’ll be buying a tent so if you have one you love I’d like to read about that – we’re looking for one that has at least two rooms (unfortunately our little two-man just won’t cut it anymore).

We’re not going into the back country so we’ll still have basic amenities. We’ll be near a lake. We will be going with some other families so there might be meal sharing involved.

I’m using a basic packing list I downloaded from ListPlanIt.com and I’ve done a bit of researching online and I’ve got a general idea of what we need.

Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestions!

Comments

  • 51.
    Mandy Moore said…

    One other thing:

    Going on your first trip can take tons of prep work, don’t let that discourage you from going again! We have worked over the years to make our camping boxes as stocked and ready to go as possible. I even have a set menu that I usually use so I know what to go get. I don’t have to pack all that camping stuff up (pots, utensils, first aid, bug spray, tent rug, small broom…) it lives in our camping boxes and is set to go.

  • 52.
    Jennifer P said…

    One more thing. If it’s going to be chilly in the morning (I saw your long sleeves in your Anna baby book post) put your clothes in the bottom of your sleeping bags. When you dress in the morning your clothes will be nice an toasty from your body heat over night.

  • 53.
    keri said…

    the REI website has some really good advice and checklists about camping … REI expert advice. the kind of camping we do here in HI is a little bit more low-key (i guess what’s called “beach camping”), so a lot of the advice doesn’t apply to us but there’s an article about camping with kids and i loved printing out activities from the “family adventure program“.

    and omgosh, i just found this: SO PERFECT for simon.

  • 54.
    Tobi said…

    If it is feasable, I would consider renting an RV. If not, you will do fine. One good rule to remember, don’t worry about lunch, just have snacks, and if they want them good, if not, let it go. Breakfast-snacks-dinner=easier on you.
    Don’t forget cocktails, and your pillow.
    Have fun.

  • 55.
    Shannon said…

    Looks like you’re gotten some great tips already. I’d also add those netted covers for your food on the table. I’m not sure what they are called but they keep flies and bugs off the food you have out. Since you will be by the lake don’t forget water toys like floaties and sand buckets and shovels. Also my hubs would never not bring his fishing gear and poles for the kids. It’s one of their fave things to do with their dad.

  • 56.
    Marie T said…

    Like others have suggested — as much of the food prep before helps. I freeze my chicken breasts in the marinade so they are tasty right quick. You can even cube chicken to easily make kabobs. Pasta salad — I would keep the chopped veggies separate from the cooked pasta and mix it right before serving.
    Like others have suggested – those sandwich irons are cool – we used those to make mini-personal pizzas, grilled cheese, sandwich smores. :)
    I like to have extra towels b/c there’s something nice about drying off with a clean, dry towel — and if it rains – things are slow to dry.
    If you can bring bikes — there are often cool paths for bike riding and it’s a nice way to get to the camp shop if you needed extra this or that.
    A power strip is nice for recharging.
    ENJOY!

  • 57.
    jendcnguyen said…

    These are all awesome! I’m going camping for the first time with kids tomorrow. Thanks for posting this Ali. :)

    • ….
      dawn said…

      Good luck on your first camp, hope all goes well.

  • 58.
    telisj said…

    We actually bring our griddle because we get sites with electricity. We cook pancakes on the griddle in the morning. Yummy, quick and the kids favorite! We get the mixes where all you have to do is add water to the plastic container. Easy to pack and make!

    • ….
      dawn said…

      We just bought our first ever griddle and love it. Thanks for the idea, hope we have room.

  • 59.
    Jana said…

    We’ve been camping forever!! Loved reading through all the comments though, since there are some new things I’ve never thought of! We’re off on our first “camp-out” this coming weekend as we help paint the new Oregon Country Fair billboard – we’ll be on site, working in the sign shop, camping in our tent nearby.

    Some ideas we do – for ice we freeze water in clean Darimart milk jugs in our big freezer, always available & last longer than crushed ice.

    Bring a couple of beach blankets – they’re great for on the beach of course, but also back at camp they’re cozy to fold & place on the picnic table bench.

    Speaking of that picnic table, we like to bring 2 plastic/vinyl/oilcloth tablecloths – one is never big enough. We usually sweep off the table with a little whisk broom before laying on the cloths. One end of the table is usually where we put our camping stove, with the cooler underneath. Works for our family of 4 but when we’re with more people, it means people have to eat in shifts around the table, or utilize the camp chairs, leaving the table for the kids.

    We have 2 dishwashing tubs – they nest together, and one is used for soapy water, the 2nd for rinse water. This chore was always given to the kids – when with a big group, it can rotate between 2 – 3 kids at a time. At first they might grumble, but kids love playing in water, so if you start them early, they’ll probably enjoy the opportunity—and it can keep them occupied for a while as they play, wash, giggle, & chat together!

    One year my husband brought a rope & made a zipline for the kids using climbing harnesses & attaching the rope on a slope. Lots of supervision during the use, but tons of fun memories!

    We also brought scads of “inflatable plastic” (floaties) & would pile them all into the back of a pick-up to take to the beach/lake. This way you don’t have to deflate them each day!

    We also don’t worry about laundry, letting the kids wear the same things as long as they were dry.

    One more idea – make hard boiled eggs ahead of time – easy quick protein snack for everyone.

    You’re going to have so much fun introducing your kids to camping – so many great memories to make! We squished our family of 4 into a 5 person tent – which we’re going to use again this coming weekend. My “kids” are 22 & 26 now, and still love camping. We had a blast backpacking with our 22 yr. old daughter last June and all 3 of us squishing into our 2 person tent… What a luxury to have a 2 room tent!! You’ll love it!

  • 60.
    Susan said…

    We always bring books to read in the evening around the campfire. One camping trip we were in the Chronicles of Narnia series. We were by ourselves as a family so after dinner we dug into the book we were in the middle of. It was a great evening.

    Meals: Hobo type meals are great. But I love going camping and having a big cooked breakfast too. We usually bring on the eggs, sausage, and cheese and make burritos. We let go of ‘diets’ when we camp and go ahead and have hot dogs on sticks and of course s’mores.

    We have a big 10-man tent so hubby and I would put two cots together with a mattress on top for a nice double bed. The kids always got cots too (if we go as a family). If the boys rough it for scouts they take smaller tents and just sleep on the ground.

    We always make a big batch of trail mix (the kids mix it up) then divide up into bags and they go in the cooler so nothing chocolate melts.

    Hope the tidbits help.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I love the idea of having a book to read as a family – wonderful idea – thank you.

  • 61.
    Marie said…

    I love camping too, but not as much as my husband. Here are a few suggestions for camping food.

    1) Cheddar Brauts (Hillshire Farm) are a must. There is just something about the fire-cooked taste of them, plus they pop while roasting!

    2) Omlets in a bag. Super easy breakfast that everyone can personalize. Just use freezer bags (quart size, plus they are thicker than the regular sandwich bags) and pour in your egg mix and anything you want in it and place into a pot of boiling water until they are cooked through (about 7-10 minutes). And a bonus is NO CLEANUP!

    3) Baked Apples. Core out the apples and add in butter, cinnamon and sugar (or whatever you like), wrap in foil and put into the hot coals of your fire. Approximately 45-60 minutes later they are super soft and ready to eat! Top with whipped cream.

    4) Popcorn. This is a fun thing for the kids. Just buy the old-style popcorn in the foil pan to cook over a small fire.

    5) Fire Starters. If you have time to make your own fire starters, it will save you lots of time (especially in the wet and humid Northwest). Just take clothes dryer lint, candle wick, and melted wax. Combine into a mold (mini icecube molds work awesome for this) and let set. Light and go. Serious time savers!

    And Don’t forget to pack twine for a clothes line, extra toilet paper, baby wipes, insect repellant, sunscreen, hats, lip balm, matches, etc.

  • 62.

    You ladies are hard core campers! I love it!! I am bookmarking these comments so that I can make some revisions/additions to our camping list. Maybe I’ll have to add more pages :-) Thanks, Ali, for being a part of ListPlanIt!

  • 63.
    Julie C said…

    Dutch oven cooking is the best! Our kids even help out with the desserts. We have a 12 qt. dutch oven for 6 people and it’s perfect! The kids LOVE monkey bread and we use the Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix to make a blueberry coffee cake (you only have to add water to the mix). You put 18 briquettes on the bottom and 12 on the top and let it bake.
    I also highly recommend the glow sticks to keep track of the kids and keep them entertained at the same time. Bubbles are also a big hit. I also love taking bikes/scooters with us. The sense of independence the kids can have by riding around the campground is great.

  • 64.
    KimD said…

    What a great idea to gather all these suggestions! We went camping over Mother’s Day and stayed in yurt and my 5 yr old had a blast roasting marshmellows. Also made Campfire Mac & Cheese which was big hit :http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/campfire-mac-n-cheese-687708/
    Have fun and can’t wait to see pics!

  • 65.
    Jen said…

    We camp as a family and love it!
    My kids are 5,3,1. Here are some of our camp activities. If the weather is good, we do scavenger hunts (I make them up based on the campground and what I think we will find there), we bought some bird books and look for birds, we typically bring a “riding” toy (bike, scooter, etc), ball, frisbee, Bubbles. I also have a small craft bin, pipe cleaners, google eyes, glue (we collect sticks and make stick bugs), bendaroos, different color books and markers. We also have built fairy huts under trees, collected things in nature and constructed a little fairy hut. I have a tote with toys they don’t play with ever – that way there are new treasures! $1 store toys are the key element in the bin so if they get trashed no harm.
    I know others may scoff but I do bring a portable DVD player. This works for bedtime when I need them to relax and calm down – tunes out the funny new noises outside. OR if we get in a really bad rain storm it helps.
    Everyone elses snack tips and dinner prep is great – I learned some new things too!! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!

  • 66.
    candice said…

    You have tons of great advice so I thought I’d just support a few of the other comments! We’ve been camping with Grant and Cole a few times this year since moving to Texas.

    First off, I agree with one of the first comments if you haven’t done it letterboxing really is so much fun for grown ups and kids! My boys love it and I’m guessing Simon will too. It’s also a fun way to document all the places that you will camp or hike. You can look up and see if there are any in your area at letterboxing.org it also explains the process. Basically you create a hand carved stamp out of and eraser and create a name for your family. Then you get a clue from the website and go on a treasure hunt for a box that will contain the creators stamp and book. You stamp your stamp into their book and then you stamp your own notebook with their stamp and the location and date.

    Secondly, we decided we would camp enough that we just wanted to have plastic bins with all our gear, i.e. one for cooking supplies, one for sleeping items and so on. That way we don’t use any of our pans or dishes from home and we can just put them right back on the shelves in the garage when we get home it makes it really easy to pack and unpack. I also like to keep one empty plastic bin to wash the dishes in while we are camping.

    For Food:

    Tin foil dinners are my boys favorite and I like bringing them as well because you get to make them ahead of time and just add them to the coals to cook as you are setting up camp. That way you have a quick dinner.

    Walking tacos are really easy and don’t require a lot of dishes because you just make the taco salad in the fritos chip bag and the kids think that is really fun!

    Hot dogs are easy and again the kids can make them themselves on a stick and they think that, that is great.

    French bread pizza is also super easy and the boys love it.

    I always bring lots of easy to eat fruit like grapes, bags of apple slices and berries for snacks and sides as well as trail mix and Mark loves beef jerky. Again, I keep all that in a little plastic box so no animals are tempted by them!

    We always bring Dickens(our dog) with us. Most parks allow dogs on leashes just be sure to check a head of time. Dickens is kennel trained so we just bring his kennel with us and he sleeps in the tent at night. I wouldn’t leave him outside alone. I think he loves getting out into nature as much as the boys do.

    Be sure to bring bug repellent. I like to have the spray and some candles in areas that we are going to be sitting a lot. Like by the campfire or at the table.

    Hope that helps!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Just have to say that I miss you and love reading your suggestions!

  • 67.
    Kendra said…

    I haven’t read thru all the comments but here’s my 2 cents off the top of my head
    Inflattable mattress for you and Chris
    Egg crate mattresses for the kids
    Flashlights for everyone – there are some cute ones out there just for kids
    YOUR own toilet paper (you just never know!)
    You said CHris is the pancake maker in your family – make a batch ahead of time and freeze them. Then rewarm in a pan along with some precooked frozen sausage. A great hardy meal before a family hike or walk.
    bug spary – not only for people but a fogger to spray around your tent

  • 68.
    Shana said…

    I have been camping since I was three months old, my son began taking trips at 6 months. It is a wonderful way to connect with family and the outdoors. It is wonderful.

    Things that make it more wonderful – headlamps. It is great to be able to wear your flashlight. Everyone in our family has one. The kids bring their scooters and waterguns. We also bring extra bags to pick up trash and give back to the place we are staying. Finding “treasure” is fun and provides a great way to encourage family service projects. We all love it.

    Have a wonderful time.

  • 69.
    Carole said…

    The two items I found to be most helpful (and also that I did not think of beforehand) are: 1) Glow sticks. We hung one from the tent at night as the kids got scared in the pitch blackness (with weird noises). And 2): Tablecoth clips to keep it secured. A must!
    Have a great time!

  • 70.
    Leslie P said…

    A 2 room tent with headroom is key. We have the Columbia Cougar Flats II Tent (10×15) which is awesome, though feels embarrassingly large when you first set it up. Embarrassing or not, having all of that ‘indoor’ space with the little ones is definitely worth it. The thing I like best is that ours has a front room and a back room, meaning that there is only one entrance in the ‘front room’ – we make the back room our sleeping space and use the front room for all of our activities and gear. For the most part, we are able to keep the dirt in the front room…or at least that’s what I tell myself :)

    Thanks for the post and to all of the folks commenting – so many great ideas, I’m thinking I might be brave enough to camp this year with a 1 and 3 year old after all.

  • 71.
    Teresa Zuehls said…

    What we have done is made a list on the computer of things we always need when camping. So when the next camping trip comes up we just print another copy and mark things off as they get packed.

    It always seems like our kids lived in their swimsuits when we went camping. The only time they take them off is when they showered and put their PJs on at night.

    For meals I figure out how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners we will be eating then made up a menu plan for that many meals. I try to make some things ahead and freeze in Ziplock bags so all I have to do is pull out a bag and heat it up (like sloppy joes, chili, jambalaya).It also helps keep the cooler stay colder longer with frozen food. I always make a tuna salad for our first lunch and make that up before we leave.
    We usually keep drinks in a seperate cooler from the rest of the food. Just makes it quicker to find the drinks and helps keep the coolers organized.
    Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray along with sun glasses and hats and of course you will need sweatshirts, jackets and pants for the cooler night temps.
    Don’t forget extra batteries for anything that has batteries and books and other reading materials are good for downtime.
    Most of all have fun!!!

  • 72.
    Ann said…

    Don’t camp but those glow bracelets are in the Dollar Spot at our Target — 15/$1
    I’ve brought them to several gatherings with friends with kids and they had a blast. Cheap entertainment!! Going to buy more to have on hand and also using them for prizes at our library’s summer library program.

  • 73.
    Lu said…

    We had a sun shower bag. Fill it with water in the morning then let it heat up in the sun. Before bed, a quick shower gets rid of bug spray and dirt. So nice to be clean before bed. Have fun!

  • 74.
    got2havefaith said…

    I am not much of a camper but I do have this awesome and easy s’mores recipe: http://got2havefaith.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/easy-smores/

    This on impresses people every time!

  • 75.
    dawn said…

    WOW ALI, I’VE JUST READ THRU ALL THESE COMMENTS SO FAR AND LOVE THEM. YOU GUYS ARE SERIOUS CAMPERS, THE FOOD IDEAS WERE AMAZING. WE JUST DO BORING HOTDOGS/HAMBURGERS/PANCAKES/SANDWHICHES/SMORES. I HAVE BOOKMARKED ALL THE LINKS AND THE NEW IDEAS I’VE LEARNED HERE. MY FAVORITES WERE THE HEADLAMPS/GLOW STICKS/ FREEZING SCRAMBLED EGGS???DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT. I’VE SHARED SOME OF THESE WITH MY HUBBY AND WE ARE SO EXCITED AND CAN’T WAIT TILL WE GO CAMPING THIS SUMMER. ALL YOU READERS ROCK, GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU AND HAVE FUN AND BE SAFE.
    P.S. My hubby just reminded me of one of our rules, the kids know they can’t leave without one of us (adult) and we tell our kids where they are allowed to go, like say from this tree to that tree and to that tree and that’s it. Since little Anna is used to a fenced in yard this will help her know. Good luck and can’t wait to hear about it.

  • 76.
    Amy Wilson said…

    Do ya’ll have a Dutch oven? If so, line the Dutch oven in heavy-duty foil, dump in your choice of canned fruit pie filling. In a large gallon-sized Ziplock baggie, dump in a box of yellow cake mix and one can of Sprite. Mix together then pour on top of the pie filling. Put on the Dutch oven lid and place inside your fire (if you have some charcoal, add some briquettes to the top of the lid). Let bake for 20-25 min or until golden on top. And what do you get? a warm cobbler!

    • ….
      dawn said…

      this sounds so yummy, we don’t have a dutch oven though. Any other way we could cook this?? Thanks for the idea.

    • ….
      Katrina Kennedy said…

      We love our dutch oven and use it every time we camp! We laugh that we eat better camping since the pace is slower and we have more time to put things together! There are some great dutch oven recipes online.

    • ….
      adelina said…

      I totally agree about the dutch oven!! We bake cakes on every camping trip since we bought our dutch oven. I didn’t believe it worked, but it’s amazing. It’s a great activity for kids to mix the cake batter. We also did corn bread in it once. Really great idea and they’re not that expensive at all.

  • 77.
    Kirsti said…

    You’ve gotten a ton of really good advice, so I’ll just add a few things:

    1. I pack in Rubbermaid tubs, too–I learned this from my mom. (I’ve been camping my whole life)

    2. A nylon shower curtain from Goodwill is a great table cover, and you are re-using something, so it’s much more green than buying something new.

    3. Headlamps are amazing.

    4. Wisconsin’s DNR does a special “Explorer Badge” program for kids where they complete the activities outlined in a guidebook (either over the camping trip or over the summer) and earn a badge upon completion. It was really exciting this weekend for the little ones I was with (Two 7 year olds and a 4 year old) to earn their badges. It also gave the families some structure & guidance to answer questions like “What kind of tree is that?” or “what kind of animal left this poop?”

    Have so much fun!!!!

    • ….
      Kirsti said…

      And I meant to add that you could check with your state’s DNR to see if they have a similar program. The WI DNR has the guidebooks on their website, so you could also download and complete the activities from the WI DNR, but the wildlife and plant guides are specific to our region of the US.

  • 78.
    GeneB said…

    We go camping 2 weeks and at leats 2-3 weekend during the summer. Always in a tent and sometimes we do canoing and portaging. Our 2 kids are 9-11. For the kids; head lamps, pails and sholves to play in the sand, a few bug catching boxes, balls, frisbee (anything they play with, games and books. they usually just like to explore. We try to bring books that relate to the nature around them. we go on hikes and identify trees & plants. For night time a map of the sky is perfect.
    Food should go in a boox that closes tight so that nothing gets into it. A few extra towls are handy. If you are going with a few friends you could share the meal planning, it’s usually more fun that way. Pancake mix for the morning is a big hit and some kind of pasta for supper is usually fast & easy. Keep meals easy and try to prepare some stuff in advance so you can enjoy the time your have with the kids instead of cooking. Bring an emergency kit just in case if you are far it might come in handy.

  • 79.
    Sarah said…

    You have a lot of great suggestions in the comments. I used to camp for a living, and now I own a business centered around camping. We have taken our kids since they were babies.

    Since you are camping near a lake, you should really consider a life jacket for Anna. Try to avoid the ones with the large collar (designed to keep the child face up in case they are unconscious in the water). Kids hate them, and they are uncomfortable! A life jacket will give her more confidence and give you a little peace of mind. This is a good option: http://amzn.to/mvk01j

    Other people have suggested these items as well, but they are must-haves for our family: headlamps for everyone are a must, they keep your hands free, and the light is always aimed where you need it. Raincoats and rain pants for everyone just in case.

    You are giving your kids a great gift by taking them camping. Not only will it create memories that will last a lifetime (as I am sure you are aware), but it instills a love and respect for nature that just can’t be duplicated in the backyard.

    Have fun! I can’t wait to hear how you trip went!

  • 80.
    Rachel Witthaus said…

    Our family camp here in Australia at least once a year. We do the rural camping with no amenities so we need to take our own toilet and shower.
    Main needs : shelter, warmth and food – Tent (halve the number it says it can sleep), mattresses, sleeping bags/bedding, clothes, camp stove (which you won’t need if the place you’re staying has a BBQ or camp kitchen), dry pantry (I use a large plastic tub) and cold items (we have a 3 way fridge that holds about 40L and runs off a gas bottle – we did the frozen bottles and frozen foods but the most we could get out of it was 3 days and we normally camp for 1 week+).
    Chairs and at least one table – we have a concertina folding table that we eat at as well as a stand for the cooker (which has room at the sides to put the wash up bowls and utensils) and a fold up table with canvas storage underneath which is my prep/serving area with the pots, plates, cups, cutlery, etc. stored underneath.
    We are able to collect firewood and build a fire where we go. If it gets really cold you might take hot water bottles too.
    I pack a kit for the girls to colour/draw in the car and we play “I spy” or other travel games and listen to music.
    I can’t wait to read about your adventures :)

  • 81.
    slmnontec said…

    We always brought too many clothes. Who wants to pack suitcases? Who wants to change clothes? Dirt is part of the experience especially of tent camping. We started when my daughter was a few months old. Nature takes care of activites. There’s so much to explore…

  • 82.
    Carrie H said…

    We LOVE to go camping…
    * a few years ago we traded our tent in for a tent trailer ;o)
    * we do a lot of http://www.geocaching.com/ the kids (ages 9 & 7) will hike for hours/miles if we go geocaching instead of hiking.
    * we love to leave a note for the next campers if possible. We like to wish them a great trip and to tell them a bit about how ours was. The kids like leaving a piece of themselves for the next campers. & we LOVE to find notes left for us.
    * After our trip I write in a small journal to remind us about the spots we have been.http://www.amazon.com/Camping-Campers-Journal-prompts-recycled/dp/B001LEXTLG/ref=pd_sim_misc_3
    * We also always send a postcard home and keep it’s own box.. the kids love to look through the box and remember where we have been. It is also a great conversation piece on our living room table.

    Have a wonderful time and let the kids get messy…. they aren’t going to have fun if they are clean heeheehee

  • 83.
    Melissa said…

    We love camping. Everyone has shared great ideas. I have a simple one. I vacuum seal a lot of the food in the ice chest. No hamburger juice in the ice. Turkey and cheese are packaged in the package size I will use for one meal. That’s my tip.

    Oh and take me along!

  • 84.
    Tonya said…

    Camping is so much fun. I’ve been doing it since I was four months old, and most of the really important stuff has been mentioned, so I won’t repeat. However…

    plastic/vinyl table cloths are a must. Pack extras and use on the picnic table benches. If you’re headed out to camp in Oregon before July, it’ll rain.

    Make sure you have extra batteries for flashlights.

    Pack a first aid kit. Include lots of bandaids, Neosporin, Benadryl and any medications your family needs. If you’re going to be hiking, make sure you know what poison oak looks like. Pack some calamine just in case.

    Pack a shovel. You can find the foldable ones in the camping supply department or at military surplus stores. Sometimes you need to clear some rocks or other debris.

    Hand sanitizer works well for cleaning pitch off fingers.

    Oregon State parks has a Junior Ranger program for kids 6-12. Info available at http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/juniorrangers.shtml

    Bottom line, relax, enjoy and go with the flow. :)

  • 85.
    Christine said…

    Hi Ali,

    I camped alot as a kid and have fond memories. I started camping with my youngest when she was about Simon’s age. I, like you, found lots of good info on the internet. My list would include:

    1) Toilet paper (just in case)
    2) French press for making coffee
    3) Thermos to store extra coffee to keep it hot
    4) Costco, Fred Meyer, and REI have great camping items
    5) Two coolers: one for beverages and one for all other food
    6) Goodwill and other thrift stores are a good place to get pots and pans
    7) Extra batteries for flashlights
    8) plastic table cloth and metal things to attach to table.
    9) Extra tarps
    10) Foldup cooking station is nice to have (Coleman)

    Last 4th of July my daughter and I went camping with her BFF. This girl had never been camping before and brought along a hair dryer, a flat iron, and fancy luggage lol. I was happy to introduce her to the realities of camping. She had a great time and we are planning another trip this year. My husband doesn’t like to camp but he is into hiking, so it usually just the two of us.
    I feel strongly that camping and being in nature is something I want my daughter experience. So she has the best of both worlds- camping with Mom and hiking with Dad.
    Have a great time camping with your family. Oregon and Washington have some of the best National Parks and State Parks. I will put a plug in for the two state parks in the San Juan Islands. Moran and Spencer Spit.

  • 86.
    Michelle Evans said…

    We have camped for 20 years now….Make sure to bring flashlights, anti bacterial gel, sunscreen, bug spray, anti-itch cream and anti-biotic cream etc….I also always pack extra paper towels and toilet paper! (campground bathrooms often run out). A soft plastic bin with all the toiletries works great for going to the shower house …

    For food, like everyone says, prep as much as possible in advance. i also freeze what I can, it helps things to stay colder longer in the cooler if there are “bricks” of things such as spaghetti sauce or taco meat, salsa, vegetables etc!

    Have fun!

  • 87.
    Terry D. said…

    We have been doing a lot of research also looking for camping equipment. This week Bi-Mart and K-Mart have some great buys for 2 – 3 room tents. We are also going to invest in a shower/changing “room”. K-Mart has one for sale too.

    The one thing that is a total must for me is my own porta-potti which will go in one of the changing
    rooms”. I hate using public toilets in a campground. LOL Have fun this summer. We are camping while we look for gold on our gold claim. Hope to find the Mother Lode!

  • 88.
    CanadianKristin said…

    As a camping mom of 4 my best advice to you is this: S’mores are easiest made if you buy the LeClerc cookies from Safeway that are shortbread cookies with chocolate on one side. Seems silly, but seriously, as you are building S’mores and struggling with non-melting chocolate bars that just make the graham crackers frustratingly break with the first bite and trying to keep up with the S’more-happy-demands of your kids you will be super happy I shared this tip with you! ;-)

    And pack in laundry hampers because they are easy to rifle through but the stuff inside stays contained…plus it’s easy when you come home with laundry to do! Suitcases are not camping friendly!

    Enjoy!

  • 89.
    Margaret C said…

    We too are taking our first family camping trip this year ! One tip from pre-DD trips I will continue is packing clothes into large clear boxes – no haouling every piece of clothing out to find a pair of trousers, and the boxes turn into mini tables as well as stacking easily for a smaller footprint. It really works !!

  • 90.
    Barbara said…

    Camping with kids is great ! We packed one IKEA bag ( the blue ones) for each family member. The bags are cheap,easy to stow in the car, the kids have easy access to their stuff, they had their bag beside their sleeping matress.To live out of an IKEA bag, that is easy living;-)
    Have fun !

  • 91.
    Dori said…

    Bring some SOLAR LIGHTS! You can get the ones that have a spike to stick into the ground, or solar string lights that can be used in a variety of ways, and the smaller square or rectangular ones designed to fit the top of fence posts. Charge them up in the sun for a few days at home before your trip to be sure they’re working correctly. Put them in the sun during the day near your tent and use them at night to light the area around your campsite, mark your tent doorway, hang them in trees, etc. Bring the fence post solar lights into the tent for safe, odor-free night lights.

    Have a great time!

  • 92.
    Lisa said…

    My family owns a campground and one thing you should check before you leave is whether you can even bring your own wood for a campfire. I agree with the person above who said it is cheaper to bring your own, but some states have limitations. In NJ, you cannot bring your own campfire since insects (like moths and woodboring beetles) can travel in the wood and populate an area and decimate the trees. Therefore, you can only use wood that is from the region you are camping in.
    My kids have the cutest flashlights from Melissa and Doug. I also love carts from kiddie go. They have wheels and each child brings what they want (toys, books, beach and sand toys) and can only bring what fits in the cart:
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_319378-742-188814_0__?productId=3340818&Ntt=kiddie+gokeyword+or+item+%23&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dkiddie%2Bgokeyword%2Bor%2Bitem%2B%2523&facetInfo=

  • 93.
    Karen said…

    Camping is so much fun! The ideas posted so far are great!
    1. Think about having French toast for breakfast; it’s so yummy and if you prep ahead of time, it is easy.
    2. We have a easy up we take camping. When it rains, we can still be outside, and enjoy the weather while staying dry (note: when camping with other families, this becomes a popular hang out if there’s rain).
    3. We keep everything in rubbermaid totes. When it rains, they keep things dry without the need for additional cover.
    4. Bring extra towels. Especially if you are brining your dog!
    5. If you have a place to hang them (i.e. easy up above), buy cheap hanging wire baskets from wal mart to hold thing you need to access. This also keeps them out of dog height. We keep suns reenact, hand sanitizer, tissues, paper towels, bug spray (you ge the idea) in ours. We also use real plates and silverware, so it doubles as a drying rack. If you see one in copper, take it. Our copper one always attracts hummingbirds!
    6. We use the Coleman marine cooler. You sacrifice space in the cooler since the walls are so thick, but if you prep your food in advance (we do, and freeze, reverse order like mentioned by another poster), then it’s good for up to a five day trip without needing more ice. I hate to go into town for ice halfway through a trip.
    7. Remember bring hats (beanies) and gloves. The temperature drops once the sun goes down.
    8. Lastly, but fire starters. They make starting a fire easy, even if it rains and the wood is wet.

    Have fun!

  • 94.
    Theresa Blohowiak said…

    A bottle of Elmers white glue will go a long way in making keepsakes from the trip. My oldest who is 27 still has his rock that has small pebbles glued on it to form Orcas from our camping trip to Orcas Island when he was nine. A bug kit or Mason jar is a great way to look at all the wonderful little pets the kiddo’s like to pick up.

  • 95.
    Teri said…

    We camp every summer for our holidays!

    One thing I want to try with my kids is to create a scavenger hunt list before going and then one afternoon (if the weather’s nice) take good long stroll around the park/campground looking for items. Things like: bread clip, pine cone, sparkly rock, etc. This is something Anna and Simon could both play. Or, you could even use Simon’s creativity and have him help create the list before you go! Make all the items into a centre piece for your supper that night! :)

    I think someone mentioned this earlier, but preparing a lot of things (foodwise) before you go, like chopping onions, browning meat, etc. is really handy, and takes less space when packing.

    Happy trails!

    • ….
      Teri said…

      PS – Bubble blowers are great for kids too, while camping. It’s outside, kids love them and the mess stays on the ground!

    • ….
      dawn said…

      Teri, I also make like a I spy kinda treasure hunt for my kids. We go to a campground that doesn’t have much walking trails and woods. They have families that live there in their RV’S and lots of campers. So on my list it’s stuff like flags, clotheslines, bathing suits, an orange tent, a boat, a dog, just stuff that you’d normally find there. My kids like it though. Last year was cool because for some reason their was a lot of cleveland browns and even the Steelers stuff around us, the kids got a kick out of that. We also look to see how many cars are from out of Ohio. Hope these give you some ideas too.

  • 96.
    S Gragg said…

    If you have the space bring the two man tent along with the larger tent you purchase. Makes a great play space for the kids and when they are both old enough they love to sleep in their own “house”.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Thanks for that suggestion -we are going to do that.

  • 97.
    Stacy said…

    Here are a few camping tips of mine:
    ~ Make sure you bring a tarp to lay down on the ground before you pitch your tent. This will provide some insulation and protect the bottom side of your tent.
    ~ Invest in a nice camp stove if you haven’t already. Also invest in a plastic egg carrier that will fit in your cooler. Eggs and bacon are yummy for a fancy camping breakfast. (Don’t forget a pan!)
    ~ Bring dish washing supplies to wash dishes and pots after you eat.
    ~ Bring a rope and clothespins to hang wet clothes and towels
    ~ Bring cheap flip flops to wear while taking a shower in the public bathrooms (or wear your watershoes while showering).
    ~ Consider bringing a travelsize foldable toilet seat protector in case there are no paper gaskets for the toilet. (I invested in one of these when my first child was potty trained and I love it!)
    ~ Bring life vests for all little people.
    ~ Cook ahead and reheat for dinner. I often make a delicious minestrone soup and bring a pot to reheat it. You can also bake cornbread muffins ahead to eat with the soup. Other favorite soups will do. Even spaghetti can be cooked ahead, placed in the cooler and reheated for dinner on the camp stove.
    ~ Bake muffins or have cereal for easy breakfasts.
    ~ Bring table cloths for the dirty picnic tables.
    ~ Bring non-toxic bug stuff to keep the bugs away at night.
    ~ Bring sunhats and sunblock
    ~ Bring extra blankets. It always gets cold at night.
    Have fun!!
    P.S. This is off topic, but I have a Q&A question for you that I wish I had remembered to ask you a few weeks ago. I thought I’d ask anyway in hopes that you may be able to answer it in the near future. I’m wondering what you do with greeting cards that you guys receive throughout the year (i.e. Mother’s Day cards, B-day cards, Anniversary cards, etc.) Do you display for a while and toss or do you save them and if so how? In archival boxes or what?

    • ….
      Megan W said…

      About the greeting cards…
      Have you seen her Christmas card pages? Really cool and would work great for birthdays too. Just use a big punch or a paper cutter and punch out a square from each card. Make a grid on a piece of cardstock and voila. Sometimes I use the picture on the front, sometimes the sentiment inside, sometimes the handwritten notes/signature. I’m sure you can look in Ali’s archives for samples of her Christmas cards. I think there have been at least two posts.

    • ….
      Stacy said…

      Megan, Thanks for the tip! Yes, I have seen her Christmas card posts, but it’s been a while and I’m going to do a search to refresh my memory. I really didn’t think about doing the same thing for greeting cards. I guess I kind of feel like I want to save the cards as is without altering them at all. That’s what I currently do. I always feel guilty about saving so much stuff, though, which is why I was wondering what Ali does with them. Who knows I may be inspired to change up my method after revisiting Ali’s Christmas card posts.

    • .
      Ali said…

      Here’s a link to last years post about the holiday cards: http://aliedwards.com/2011/01/2010-holiday-card-layout.html

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Usually I just don’t keep other cards (birthday, etc) – unless there is something very sentimental about them. I do keep anything that comes from my Mom though or from the kids to me. Most cards I’ve wanted to save this year have gone into Project Life :) .

    • ….
      Stacy said…

      Thanks for chiming in Ali and thanks for the link to your Christmas card post. This year I’ve also put greeting cards into my PL album. It’s perfect for that. I imagine that’s what I’ll do from now on. We’ll see.

  • 98.
    Sarah said…

    Cabelas.com is your place!! They have everything you could possibly want for camping.

    They have great tents. I own the Cabela’s Deluxe Backwoods Three-Room Cabin (http://tinyurl.com/3dx8qgc). It’s fantastic. Not hard to put up, takes 2 people about 20 minutes.

  • 99.
    Megan W said…

    If it’s feasible, bring a BBQ. We have an annual camping trip and we always bring at least one BBQ. It’s a nice option for good food that isn’t cooked on a camp stove. And don’t forget the little things. I forgot dish towels one year and it was a nightmare!

  • 100.

    Fantastic and thanks for sharing. Camping is truly an amazing time and experience that has been passed down from generation to generation. Camping is one of the things that I really enjoy doing. It brings me so much peace and ideas.

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