I grew up exploring the great outdoors and it produced some of my best memories as a kid. I became interested in camping when I was in college; and after taking a few trips with friends, I was hooked. I started tent camping, and here I am 15 years later towing a camper behind my soccer mom-mobile.
Before our first child was born my spouse and I tent camped in some beautiful places; my favorite by far was White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire where we saw a giant Moose swimming in a bog. It’s a day I will never forget.
I knew that one day I would want to share moments like these with my kids.
My daughter was born in 2016 and my son followed in 2019; we found ourselves in a camping drought however the urge to get out and be one with nature only grew.
So how do you take 3-year-old and 10-month-old camping in the middle of a quarantine pandemic…? Easy, you buy a camper…
Or so we thought.
Wait, what… we’re going to buy a camper?!
It all happened so fast. What are we doing? I went in knowing there would be a learning curve and boy was there! Deep breath in, deep breath out… I decided to bury my worry and go for it, because I was so excited to take my kids camping and let them explore different parts of their world.
Fast forward to 8 months later and we are doing much better. I even towed the trailer through downtown Atlanta traffic. <Insert Happy Dance.>
Camping with your kids is so rewarding but it can also be trying. When encouraging others to go camping I always say start with patience. Think about what is best for your family. Cabins at campgrounds and state parks are a great way to try camping at a beginner level. Transitioning to a camper with kids can be challenging, and it’s important to be prepared prior to all the fun you’re going to have.
TIPS FOR CAMPING WITH KIDS
1. Research Where You Want to Go
Find out how far you want to travel with kids in tow. If it’s your first time camping with your kids start somewhere closer to home and work your way up to longer travel.
National and State parks are a great place to go and are less expensive than privately-owned campgrounds. Although, privately-owned campgrounds are also super fun and often have activities planned especially around the holidays.
2. Book in Advance
Spots fill up quickly so book in advance. It’s good to call ahead or review websites to see if a campground has a playground, pool, bike trails and more.
There are also camping social media pages for tips and great places to go. We follow Mississippi RV Camping on Facebook.
3. Get There Before Dark
Try your best to arrive before dark. This is helpful in all aspects of camping. It’s much easier to set up your site if you can see what you’re doing.
Another helpful tip is to determine boundaries with your younger kids, find things around your site and let them know they need to stay within those borders. Parents are faced with a lot of distractions at the campsite while unloading, packing, cooking, etc. and it’s easy for kids to get out of sight.
4. Make Lists
Lists are important. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for what you will cook and what you will require to cook and clean up.
Think about each person in your household and what they require in their daily routine.
Take LOTS of snacks and water! Flashlights, headlamps, sunscreen, bug spray, lip balm, batteries, trash bags, extra blankets, and above all toilet paper and baby wipes (you just never know.)
5. Slow Down
Avoid being in a hurry. Don’t rush, this is your time to be with your family and relax. Be aware of quiet hours a campground or park may observe; be respectful to other campers and do not let your kids invade other sites.
6. Prepare for Weather
The weather is constantly changing. Always keep raincoats or ponchos for everyone. Bring along cards and board games, try playing the game at home ahead of time so you can jump right in if you’re faced with a rainy day.
Sometimes it’s good to have wardrobe options for both cool and warm; oftentimes you can have warm weather during the day and breezy cooler temps at night.
Don’t forget those blankets…lots of blankets especially if camping outside of summertime.
7. Remember to Have Fun
Kids need to unwind and unplug just like we do. Camping is an excellent opportunity to get your kids outdoors and explore something new. The kids may need some additional entertainment so remember to bring things for them to do outdoors like play-doh, crafts, and bring your creativity.
We do a lot of exploring when we go camping and walking around the campground spending time together. The kids love to see nature and discover new ways of playing. Most all campgrounds have playgrounds so new friends are sure to be made.
Many sites also allow golf carts or even have golf cart rentals which the kids really enjoy. Remember to bring your patience and wilderness spirit.
OUR FAVE CAMPGROUNDS
- Paul B. Johnson State Park in Hattiesburg, MS
- Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, MS
- Little Black Creek Campground in Lumberton, MS
- River Vista in Dillard, GA
- Lake Lurleen State Park in Coker, AL
PARKS WE PLAN TO VISIT
- Flint Creek in Wiggins, MS
- Yogi on the Lake – Jellystone in Pelahatchie, MS
- Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL