In the final of our Made to Matter, Handpicked by Target™ challenge, we took Edie out for her first camping trip last month in the Sierras. Camping with kids is a topic I get emails about all the time. I’ve posted some tips before for backpacking with kids but thought I’d share a few ideas for making a car camping trip with the family more fun enjoyable for everyone (even for baby!).
This is the last in our Made to Matter, Handpicked by Target™ challenge featuring some easy on the go organic baby food perfect for camping trips like Plum Organics Stage 2 blend pouches, Ella’s Kitchen Organic Pureed Baby Food pouches, Plums Organics Little Yums Teething Wafers, Ella’s Kitchen Organic Raspberry and Vanilla Puffits.
Keep reading for more photos from Edie’s first camping trip and 5 tips for camping with your family…
Photography by Liz and Jared Stanley
We don’t like campgrounds as much as we do dispersed camping, which just means wherever you want in national forests and other managed land areas. Sometimes if we are unfamiliar with an area we’ll stop in at a Ranger Station on the way. The first night with Edie it was colder than we expected. There was SNOW on the ground and despite having plenty of layers, it wasn’t an ideal situation. The good thing about little ones is they can get snuggled up with you in the sleeping bag. The best scenario is that you and your partner have 2 bags you can zip up together so there’s a little more room to put the baby in-between you.
After we set up the tent we started working on dinner while Henry collected sticks for the campfire. For dinner we make shrimp and chicken kabobs with veggies. Kind of fancy for us but so delicious! I also made some buttered orzo beforehand that I brought as well in a ziplock bag as a simple side that could be served cold and didn’t spoil or get soggy.
The next morning we made an egg scramble for breakfast, thinly sliced potatoes, and sausages (more on food down in the tips section below) and had some stick races down the little stream. All the noises and movement of the stream were fun for Edie to watch. We took her car seat out so she’d have somewhere to sit while we prepared breakfast and took down the camp. A stroller would work as well or a big blanket if they’re sitting up and not too mobile yet.
For Edie’s food, the Plum Organics Stage 2 Blend pouches and Ella’s Kitchen Organic Pureed Baby Food pouches were perfect for travel. It would have been way too messy to try to feed her jarred food, I love how convenient those pouches are! I squeezed some into a spoon and she gobbled that stuff down. It was so satisfying since it was really one of the first times I can remember her enjoying real food! We also loved taking Plum Organics Little Yums Teething Wafers and Ella’s Kitchen Raspberry and Vanilla Puffits with us. Both are more entertainment that food at this point but a great way to start self-feeding, introduce flavors, and help promote hand coordination. We use them all the time!
Here are 5 tips to make car camping enjoyable for everyone:
1. Everyone needs a job. Even if it’s collecting sticks for the fire, keeping tally of animals we see, or taking pictures of the tent. To prevent boredom (and whining) keep those kids busy!
2. Camping food tastes like heaven. The accommodations may not be as comfy as home but the food tastes even better when you’re camping so here’s how to make good food without it being too much of a hassle. The more you can prepare at the campsite the better because there is always so much to do before you go. Making dinners beforehand it a lot to take on. For breakfasts, I love to mix up eggs and chopped veggies beforehand for an morning egg scramble and then seal them in a sandwich bag for easy pouring onto the grill the next morning. We’ve done the same with pancake mix (mix it up before and just put it in a sandwich baggie). You especially want breakfast to be quick. Kids always wake up hungry!
For dinners, I love tin foil dinners (the fish variety I posted about here) but they do take some prep. We either make them before and put them in the cooler or try to make something even easier like kabobs there. If we’re feeling like we don’t want to do dinner prep we’ll just roast hot dogs, maybe with a can of chili. The more things you can pick and assemble on your way the easier it will be to get out of the house! Sometimes we’ll even eat out our first night to avoid having to prep too much food beforehand.
3. Adventure walks! or Treasure Hunt! (sounds way better than ‘get lost while I set up the tent’). We love to look for animals, signs of animals, small treasures, pretty colors (‘let’s find something from each color of the rainbow’), really big or really small things (biggest leaf, smallest flower). If there are a lot of large sticks you can try to make a fort, even! Or take turns floating things down a stream (Henry’s favorite). There are so many things to keep them occupied. In this case on the second night (and a different camping spot), we took a hike up to the top of this huge rock and had a fantastic view of the valley.
4. Portable devices. Okay so it may sound lame to bring your iPad camping, but up until Henry was three or four this was the only way we got him to sleep! We’d face the iPad down at the top of the tent where the mesh is so he could lie down and watch it while he fell asleep. Also be sure to let your older kids stay up and take photos of the stars with a long exposure (there are iPhone apps for it too). They’ll flip out!
5. It’s all about the campfire. Be prepared with spooky stories, songs and whatever you do don’t screw up the s’mores. Make sure you have folding chairs, roasting sticks and plenty of chocolate. Here my tip for perfect s’mores: be patient with the marshmallows (let them cook slowly above warm coals) and warm the chocolate up on a rock close to the fire on the graham cracker so it’s not cold. Also, a smear of peanut butter couldn’t hurt.
Do you go camping with your family? Any tips or tricks to share?
PS The time we camped under the Golden Gate Bridge!