Tent camping with our kids was very much an adventure. We all got dirty, had less sleep, and smelled like campfire. It was awesome, and I would certainly do it again. As we sat around the fire one evening, we discussed some of our lessons from this camping trip, and things to remember for next time.
Here are some of the things we learned:
- Make sure you find a camp site with ample shade. We camped on desert terrain in the mountains north of Los Angeles, where it was crazy hot with little shade. Midday was miserable, and our kids were too hot to take naps.
- Bring a cast iron pot/pan. We cooked some really great food in our cast iron Dutch oven over the campfire, like bacon & potato hash and peach cobbler.
- Assume that everyone and everything will be dirty. At one point, Alex took fistfuls of dirt, and poured it over herself like a waterfall. That's when I decided to not even bother cleaning her off till we got home.
- Invite an Eagle Scout on the trip. My brother Stuart, a certified Eagle Scout (and generally handy guy), came with us. Since camping requires so many skills, it was nice to have him with us.
- Bring earplugs so you can sleep through the noise from other nearby campers. Our campsite was near another family who really enjoyed yelling, cursing, and verbally abusing each other. Fun.
- If, in the middle of the night, you think your kid is lost and wandering around in the dark, first make absolutely sure that he or she is actually missing. The short version of the story is that we were woken by a kid yelling "Mom! Mom!" outside our tent. Thinking that Aaron had somehow wandered outside, and was lost in the bushes, we frantically ran around the dark calling for him. After several minutes of searching, we realized that Aaron was actually still in our tent (asleep, and totally oblivious to our little search and rescue). The cries for "Mom!" had been coming from another family's tent nearby, whose kid was sad that his mom had left to go to the bathroom.
- Pack lots of s'mores ingredients (dark chocolate...you know what's up). And some good metal skewers.