Moomah the Magazine
Camping With Kids

Camping With Kids

When the summer season is upon us, it seems as though there are many families who decide that the perfect weekend get-a-way includes a tent, a sleeping bag, and a campground. While this isn't exactly our idea of a holiday, a few *brave families we know have been there, done that and lived to tell the tale. They even stuck around to give other brave aspiring campers some tips for doing it right. 

They say that campground camping is easy, accessible, and can even be civilized with kids. We say, if you are thinking that this summer is the perfect time to take your kids on their very first campground camping trip, make sure you read these tips first! 

Good luck!


Keep in mind that you are campground camping and you are doing it with kids. Don't leave something behind because "it will take up too much room." You are taking a car, not a single backpack, and you are visiting a campground equipped with picnic tables, utility hookups, and bathrooms with flush toilets. Make the experience as realistic and traditional as possible, but not at the risk of your own sanity. 

  • Bring a Pack-N-Play for your kid under 3 and set it up in your tent. Without one, bedtime will be crazy, and nap time will involve a child escaping out of the tent, only to be found by another camper 10 campsites away. Family sized tents fit them and you will thank us later for helping to bring that peace of mind.
  • Don't skimp on supplies. Bring it all! This is campground camping with kids, not survival backpacking.  Make it as comfortable as you need.
  • Put the kids to work. When in the great outdoors, every chore can be an activity. Trick 'em into playing 'house'. Have them lend a hand setting up the outdoor kitchen, scouting out the perfect spot to pitch the tent, and helping to organize equipment. 



Equipment for eating and cooking, through to what you will need when setting up camp, swapping ghost stories, and navigating your way through the campground after dark. It is important to have all the right things, and enough to go around - the last thing you want is to hear arguements over who sits on the chair, or who gets the torch first. And again, don't skimp! Buy the best stove and griddle - they will make your life much, much easier.

  • Plates, cups, utensils and water bottles are all needed (plus bowls for preparing, ie. guacamole).
  • A camping stove is needed for boiling water for tea, coffee & hot chocolate, cooking pancakes, boiling eggs and cooking meat.
    The Classic Coleman Stove with the liquid fuel is easier to manage than the disposable bottle versions, and it's better for the environment. You're not a true car camper until you've mastered the art of properly pumping a Coleman Stove.
  • A square griddle is needed for pancakes, eggs and meat.
    The dream item: Lodge Logic Double Play Cast Iron Double Griddle - sized to fit across two Coleman burners, this is the ultimate car camping griddle for true cast iron cooking.
  • Two big bins for kitchen cleanup - don't forget washing fluid and towels for drying. Fill the two plastic basins with water; one with soap, one for rinse. Warm up some water with your kettle if desired - using warm water can make doing the dishes slightly more enjoyable.
  • Camping chairs for sitting around the campfire. Forget the fancy camping chairs, go for the $9.99 cheapos at your local convenience store.
  • Extra tarps come in handy for camping in tents. Bring an extra tarp to use as a porch for your tent and sweep daily with a small hand brush (or pine branches) to keep your tent house clean.
  • Headlamps! Every person in the family older than 3 or 4 needs their own headlamp.

tip three: keep your kids occupied.

Camping is a chance for kids to get out in the fresh air and do things they don't usually get the chance to do. It's also a great chance to let them go "back-to-basics" and discover new ways of doing fun things, without the distraction of the TV.

  • Bring Kites and get flying. Kites in the mountains?  Best way to help distract the kids when it gets windy and cold.
  • Glow Sticks serve many purposes - your kids will help you figure out what those are.
  • Hot Chocolate and 'Smores are a no-brainer when camping. What else are you supposed to do when it starts to get dark?  Don't forget mini-marshmallows for the hot chocolate - lots!
  • Give Nature Lessons. First nature lesson: how to identify poison oak or ivy. My children learn this at age 3 and it's saved us many times - Luke even teaches adults now.



When taking kids on a camping trip, plan ahead with your food and remember to keep it simple. Think about the equipment you have, and use it in as many ways possible.

Here's an example of a food list for a super simple menu for a camping weekend:


Pancakes - Your favorite Pancake Mix, Eggs and Maple Syrup
Hot Chocolate
Seasonal Fruit


Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bread
Avocado, tomato, Hummus
Homemade Cookies
Seasonal Fruit


Marinated Meat
Canned Beans
Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Garlic, Lemon (Guacamole)
'Smores for dessert-  brings all store-bought ingredients, or make these yourself and bring them along.


Roasted Bagels on campfire (using left over sticks from last nights 'smores)

• Beer and Wine! 


A lot of foods on the menu can be prepared ahead of time, or at least begun before heading out. Be aware of what needs to be packaged in order to keep the food from spoiling, and to transport wisely.

  • Cookies can be baked before leaving the house, and kept in a secure box.
  • Meat for burritos can be marinated before leaving the house and sealed tighly.
  • Pancake batter can be mixed ahead of time, transferred into a plastic bottle and ready for the morning.
  • Seasonal fruit can be cut up before heading out, and kept in a secure box.
  • Remember a spatula and a small pot to heat water.
  • Don't forget to pack a cooler for your cheese, fruits, eggs and meat to sit in.
  • If you're feeling lazier, do sausages for dinner - super easy!

Best thing about Camping with the Kids?

Ice Cream and burgers on the way home!


*A special thanks to Hans, Tracy, Luke & Jesse Ashlock, and Tim, Rachel & Otis Leeds for their fearless sense of adventure and for sharing it with us!
Cover photo by Tim Leeds. Body photos by Hans Ashlock

Posted in: Parenting   

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