Camping with Kids – Part 1

This past weekend we camped with two kids for the first time. This year Peter and I decided to invest a bit into camping as much as possible with our girls. One of the first “big” purchases we made after we were married was our two-person hiking tent. We’ve used it quite a bit since, including every camping trip we’ve done with Pearl. (You can read about Pearl’s first camping trip here. And a little about last year’s camping adventure here. Keep in mind, I was seven and a half months pregnant!) We’ve obviously outgrown the tent so this year we bought a four-person tent, along with new sleeping mats and another sleeping bag. We also decided to purchase in a travel bed for Rose and we bought a Kidco Pea Pod.

I thought it might be fun to share our first experience camping as a family of four and then, hopefully, share again at the end of the summer and see what we’ve learned.

With our new gear we were all set to start off the summer with a long weekend camping trip to Powell River.

And then the forecast called for rain. And Peter and I considered the thought of spending a weekend, in a tent, in the rain, in the cold, with two little kids, a ferry ride from home. And we cancelled. Our girls are generally really okay with rain (they are West Coast kids after all) but continuous damp for days just didn’t sound like fun. So we stayed home, enjoyed our local Canada Day festivities, and it didn’t really rain.

So on Sunday afternoon we decided to do a camping trip locally. We packed up the car and while Rose napped at home, Peter and Pearl drove fifteen minutes away to scope out a camping spot.

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It was a little breezy and we could see the rain clouds coming in but we headed down to the beach to do a little swimming. Or, in Rose’s case, sand-eating.

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This is a beach we visit pretty frequently because it’s nice and sandy and also has a playground nearby.

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Pearl loves the beach and happily could play for hours, running through the waves and building sand castles. One of my current parenting mottos is: “Leave while it’s fun.” Which means leave before anyone starts crying. So we headed back to our site to get dinner started.

And it started to rain. Okay, fine. We’re all used to rain.

It really rained. We hadn’t set up a tarp. (We’re optimists.)

So we pulled the car up and set out a tailgate party. The girls and I sat under cover and ate chips while Peter grilled hot dogs. (He’s a good man.)

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One of the things we’ve learned from past camping trips is that it doesn’t work to send Pearl to bed at her regular time by herself in the tent. So she gets to stay up late (at least until dark-ish) and we all go to bed together. Last year Peter and I were able to sit up and read after she fell asleep. This year though we thought maybe Rose would go to sleep first and the rest of us could eat ‘smores. We all went for a walk and I headed back first with Rose to put her to bed.

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This plan did not work. I’ve been putting Rose down for naps in her Pea Pod since we got it. (It’s basically like a small tent that goes inside the regular tent and works as a travel crib.) She’d napped in it fine but somehow the whole day and the new location and sounds were too exciting and she simply would not settle. I eventually gave up, put her in the carrier, and we ate ‘smores while Rose watched.

As it got dark we settled down in our tent together and read stories by lantern light. Rose was still awake (approximately three hours past her normal bed time now!) but happy in her little pod knowing we were all nearby. Pearl fell asleep quickly between Peter and I and I lay awake listening to Rose settle down and eventually fall asleep before I slept too.

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Early morning. Pearl is awake but hiding and Rose has been up for a while. Rose woke up close to her regular time but Pearl actually slept in a little.

Our tent was great and kept us cosy and dry and all in all I think we did okay. Rose spent half the night in her pod and the other half tucked in next to me in my sleeping bag. I think we’ll keep her napping in it at home and hopefully she will get more used to it.

The next day was cool but sunny and we enjoyed a short walk and some more time on the beach before heading home for lunch and laundry (so much laundry!) and naps.

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Overall, there’s not too much I would change. Pearl loves camping and is happy to spend her time outdoors. She slept well and had no trouble falling asleep – probably our best night camping with her yet! I was a bit optimistic about the weather and could have packed warmer clothes for her. She was cold in the morning.

Rose is at a tricky age. Because she’s crawling but not walking, campsites aren’t the friendliest places for her. We had brought a big blanket to put on the ground for her but since it rained so much we didn’t do that. The bumbo seat with the tray was great for meals (pictured in our tail gate meal) but Rose doesn’t love being contained for too long. She did love crawling around the tent since it was soft and covered. She woke up about her normal amount in the night but the novelty of having everyone so close by made it harder to settle her back to sleep after she ate. We’ll have to see if that changes.

Wish us luck as we continue our summer of outdoor adventures!

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