Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Camping Adventures Part 1 - Why We Camp with Little Kids

Fall is my favorite season to camp.  In my younger days I enjoyed "real camping" where we hiked for several days and stopped and set up camp for the night.  But now I'm a fan of "car camping".  It's only kind of roughing it.  There are air mattresses involved.

We've gone since the boys were 3 and 1.  Back in those days Blueberry used a pulse ox to measure his oxygen levels so we had to get a site with power.  And now that we don't need the pulse-ox anymore, we still get a power site. wouldn't do it any other way.  We often end up being the only tents in our area surrounded by RVs, but they are nice people too :).  All of these pictures are from our first camping trip in September of 2017.  I'll feature other trips in my other posts!

I didn't camp as a child.  But I enjoy sharing this time with my boys.

1) Intensive Family Time
We are stuck in pretty close quarters with not a whole lot to distract us.  Without all the noise of our daily lives we really get to focus on the moment and on each other.  Often when I am with the boys, I'm only kind of with them.  There's food to be made, toys to pick up, toilets to be scrubbed, laundry to do.  You get the idea.  It's all about us and being together.  It's about naps in the hammock or just sitting near the fire watching the boys play.

2) No screens
Okay, we do bring the tablets along for when we got out to breakfast, but there's no TV and no possibility of them bugging us to let them watch whatever is their show du jour.  Parents also have a no screen rule unless it's taking pictures!  It's as important for me as it is for the kids.  Let's face it, Facebook is a bit of a siren call to me at times.  I enjoy the opportunity to unplug.

3) Inexpensive and better
You don't have to book a trip to Disney to get great memories.  And honestly, while I'm glad we've done the Disney thing and we will again, I'm sure, I have more fun camping with the boys that I did on the over-loaded-with-magic-Disney-craziness.  And at the end of the day, my boys enjoyed the nature walks poking at bugs, playing on the playground with other kids, the marshmallows roasted over the fire, the glow sticks so much better than any amusement park.

4) Appreciate Nature
Camping forces us to slow down and appreciate the nature around us.  We can hear the sounds of the animals.  This also teaches them about dealing with being a little cold or hot or wet (though we won't camp if it's really rainy, windy or the weather dips to below 50 at night...but still, there's no heat or AC).  They also learn about what plants to stay away from and that fire can be dangerous.  We also use it as an opportunity to talk about different species of plants and animals.  While we point these things out on nature walks and in our neighborhood...there's nothing like being surrounded by it for kids to really notice.

5) Builds confidence
The boys are learning to sleep in a place that is not their bed room.  They are learning to try new things and visit new places.  They are learning new skills like how to start a fire.  And it builds confidence in us parents too!  We gain confidence that we don't need all kinds of stuff to keep the kids happy!

6) Teaches simplicity and mindfulness
We only take a few toys with us when we camp and the kids learn to play with just those toys or make toys out of the natures that is around them.  They don't need all this external entertainment.  They find ways to amuse themselves.  They make up games and focus on the moment.  I do try to prioritize giving them opportunities for free play, but with school and therapies and sports, the length of time isn't what I'd love it to be.  When we camp, it's basically all the time for days!

7) Memories
And really, the most important is that it's creating memories that will last us the rest of our lives.  They get to roll around and get dirty and then no bath (until we get home).  We try to camp at different places throughout the season and seek out local events and festivals.  This takes a bit of advance planning, but adds a lot of fun.  Although some of our best trips have been those that we didn't make it away from the campground except to hike.  But we like to mix it up each time.  Though, certain things are routine...hot dogs for dinner, going out for breakfast, smores for dessert and glow sticks!  Our older boy recalls events from past camping trips with such fondness and I hope that it continues to be a precious way for us to connect as a family as we grow together!

Now that I hope that I have inspired you!  Here are the next articles in the series:
Part 2: The Basics of Camping
Part 3: What I Pack and How I Organize When Camping with Little Kids
Part 4: More than S'mores and Hotdogs: Favorite Camping Recipes

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