Are you wanting to get outside now that warmer weather is upon us, but camping with kids seems a little too daunting? It doesn’t have to be. My selling partner, Rachel Frazier, and her husband, Ron, take their two kids camping and it all started with a group camping trip with neighbors.

Ron’s family was always outdoorsy and spent a lot of time at Lake Norman. The group camping trip with their kids, 5 and 2 at the time, reignited the camping bug from when he was a kid.

“Watching how much they enjoyed running around the woods with other kids reminded me how much we enjoyed doing the same when I was young with my brothers and cousins,” he said.

From there, the Fraziers started with a cheap tent from Walmart and got recommendations from friends on locations, gear, and managing kids. While the Walmart tent worked great, Ron said they found out about the REI garage sale.

“So we stood in line at the REI in south Charlotte, and managed to score the exact tent we wanted at a huge discount because of a broken pole,” he said. “We put the tent together in the store before we left and discovered the pole worked fine.”

The last item of research was sleep pads and sleeping bags. “That was the one item I insisted my wife try out and pick out because I wanted to make sure she would be comfortable sleeping outside,” he said. “And coffee. I let her do whatever she wanted when it came to coffee in camp.”

That initial group trip was two years ago. Since then, the Fraziers have some tips for camping with kids. 

Cheap iPads
“A lot of folks probably don’t want to admit it, but being able to distract kids with something like a movie or their favorite cartoon is great when we need them to settle down, whether it be due to bad weather or putting them down for bed for the night,” said Ron. They make sure to download a few movies or some of their kids’ favorite cartoons in case they’re not feeling the outside or are stuck in the car.

Go with the flow
For first-timers, make the trip an adventure and go with the flow. “We always give the boys something to do, like gathering sticks for the fire or helping set up their chairs. It makes them feel involved and increases their comfort with being in camp,” said Ron. You’ll also want to be open-minded and flexible with the schedule. “If the kids aren’t feeling it, we’ll pack up early or go get ice cream and come back,” he said. “We had rain flood the tent once, so instead of being miserable we took the kids to the mall and let them do build a bear. You have to be OK with things not going right every time, especially with kids in tow. It’s all a part of the adventure.”

Have a plan
Try to have an easy hike, a stream, or some games around to help keep kids busy so they aren’t just sitting around. Try to make kids feel involved. Pro-tip from Ron: cat litter and scented trash bags.

Stay organized for easy access to supplies
Use clear bins to keep items separated, but also visible so you aren’t wasting time digging trying to find the cooking supplies. Organize everything beforehand, just like you would at your home. The Pragmatic Parent recommends sorting into the following categories:

  • Kitchen Supplies
  • Food & Snacks
  • Bathroom & Bathing
  • Toys
  • Tents & Sleeping Bags
  • Clothes & Laundry
  • Music & Entertainment

Must have baby wipes
Not all camping accommodations will come with bathhouses or showers, and you don’t want to crawl into a sleeping bag or tent with dirty hands and feet. The first step is to put down a covering (towel, blanket, or tarp will do) outside the front of the tent opening to make sure you don’t track any of nature inside. Next step is to stock up on baby or antibacterial wipes. Before going in the tent, just do a quick wipe down to keep the dirt at bay.

Be prepared for the dark
Safety at night is important, but it can be fun, too. Headlamps are inexpensive and a fun accessory for nighttime. You can put the headlamp around jugs of water for more illumination. To really make it a party, pick up a variety of glow sticks. Kids won’t mind wearing these, and you’ll know where they are in the dark.

Have a favorite outdoor escape? Let us know in the comments!