Did you give up your camping adventures the minute diapers entered your home? Ya, me too.
I had never camped as a child, only as an adult. I fell in love with camping for:
• The satisfying feeling that would come over me from having pushed my body hard from the hiking, canoeing or portaging to get to the site.
• The heavenly feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but read my book or take a nap.
• The romantic nights, sitting around a campfire sipping red wine.
Now, review that list again and imagine putting children in the picture. Doesn’t work, does it? All the reasons I loved camping … *poof* … gone.
But recently, my husband and I have headed back into the outdoors – two kids in tow. Although our much-loved list is now adapted, we haven’t had to give it all up entirely.
• If you’ve been a hard core camper, the notion of “car camping” is depressing indeed! But rather than throw in the towel, seek out quiet, more rustic sites (hint: look for sites that don’t offer facilities like showers). These will have far few people and don’t line up camping sites in a parking-lot style. Instead, each site has been carefully developed for some privacy and remains treed. (You can see photos of a camping site we recently stayed at in Algonquin Park here.)
• Take turns with your spouse to allow for some quiet time. One parent takes the kids for a hike or simply stays as the alert and awake supervisor, while the other is free to doze off or get completely absorbed in a book.
• After all that time in the fresh air, your children will be tired and ready to drop into bed! But, unfortunately, so are you. Try hard to stay up for at least 15 minutes of time together – alone – cuddling and staring at the camp fire, before you join the kids in sleepy-land.
There are plenty of great tip-lists available via a simple google search on camping with kids, so I won’t even try to replicate them.
Instead, I will share with you a list of tips directly from my seven-year-old daughter.
• Go for hikes! Go on an animal safari and look for garden snakes.
• If not in public, let your kids swim nudie!
• Let the kids get as dirty as they want.
• Collect sticks and make a tipi or a fort.
• Let the kids read as late as they want!
• Bring your two-wheeler bike.
• Make s’mores after dinner.
And, last but not least, she offered these wise words of wisdom to camping parents:
• Don’t be worry warts!
Julie is an Ottawa local and mother of two. Her personal blog is Coffee with Julie.