Camping. I love it – sharing space with nature, simple living, the bonfire scent that infuses everything from hair to sleeping bags. We’re all there together enjoying whatever it is that’s in front of us. Unexpected things happen when we lose the walls – distractions are replaced by trees. The daily grind pushed aside by fresh air. Tactile problems that need solutions (busted tentpoles and the like.) It’s refreshing to every part of my being.
So, I’m excited to gear up for another trip this weekend. We’re headed to Olympic National Park (!!!!) and my dad is flying up to join us. I cannot wait! Camping is family value and a pastime we will (hopefully) be enjoying for decades with our kiddos. Sure, camping as a family is not as simple as it was back in the day when it was just me and Isaac. But, camping with kiddos is where the magic’s at. Really. I love camping with our kids. And as far as I know, they love camping with me too.
As we drive home from each camping excursion we ask the girls, “what was your favorite part?” Their answers are different each time – the campfire, riding bikes, making friends from another campsite, swimming in the lake, hiking in the forest, peeing in the little toilet, etc. My favorite part of camping with the kids is the change of scenery. Trading a house for a tent. Walls for fresh air. The dialed-in routine for make-it-up-as-you-go adventure.
Now, I’ve talked with some people who aren’t sold on camping with youngins. And I get it – there are risks. Will they sleep? Will it be messy? Will they complain? Well, nobody knows. And if it sounds fun, then it’s worth a shot.
A few things I focus on when preparing to camp with my kids:
- Pack simply: Try to pack less than I think I’ll need. Because, what’s the worst thing that could happen? My kid smears s’mores on their PJs and doesn’t have a back-up? But, always always always bring bathing suits.
- Eat simply: It’s about exploring and enjoying the outdoors, not eating the best food that’s ever crossed the plate. Tasty food that doesn’t occupy too much time. Simple breakfast (oatmeal, nut butter and fruit), easy lunch (sandwiches, veggies, protein, fruit), no-fuss dinner (pre made soup, BBQ chicken and veggies) and lots of snacks.
- Plan for fun: Bring the fun-gear. Bikes are where it’s at for my girls. A surfboard is where it’s at for my man. And me, I guess it’s a yoga mat, running shoes and wine. Easy enough.
- Embrace the dirt: Just stop worrying about your kids feet/hands/face/everything getting dirty. Do that until you can’t take it anymore and then jump in a river/lake/ocean with them. But, forget the shower for a few days. And leave the antibacterial at home. I actually feel cleaner after a day at the campsite than I would after a day spent at Target or something. It’s like a clean dirty. Anyone feel me?
Raise your hand if you’ve been to Olympic National Forest? Must see places?