I'm Scared To Go Camping With The Kids
A Camping Holiday With Kids?
I'm terrified. I suggested going camping with kids. I am not a parent. I've spent the last 50 years being a kid myself and now I've volunteered my long weekend to go camping with my wife, her sister and the kids. What have I done.
I grew up camping. By the time I was 12 I spent more of my life outdoors than in. I knew more about the fifty miles around my house then most people did. I grew up wild one would say. But that was a different time and a different place. Back then if I was in trouble or just needed a drink of water I could go to any house I came to and just ask. It was a different time back then.
Kids today rarely stray for sight of home and if they do, they have to be driven somewhere. Kids today are smart but its not that they know more about how to do things they just know more from watching TV and videos. Kids are glued to the Internet. Plugged in. Wired.
I visit my nieces and three quarters of the time they are staring into they're iPhones or iPads texting each other from across the room. And don't even think about walking between my nephew and the TV if he is watching cartoons.
I grew up without all that. I made my own fun in the woods, sometimes with friends but most of the time I was alone. Tracking rabbits in the snow in winter or chasing squirrels in the summer. Keeping a list of all the "wild" animals I either saw or later touched. I taught myself how to make a fire without matches, make shelter from what nature provided, even learned how to navigate using the stars. I've made my own camping gear because I didn't have the money to buy it. I even made my own moccasins when my dad gave me a tanned deer skin.
Needless to say I am comfortable camping. But now I'll be taking 2 women and 2 soon to be women for a long weekend in the woods. Bears have already been spotted in the area - I haven't told them that part yet. We are going to Gregg Lake where I was last month. I know the area it is perfect for what I call camping - but will it be for the girls?
The perfect same family tent in my opinion. Two rooms and a vestibule. Big enough for 4 cots or six on the floor. Tall enough to stand up to get dressed.
The rain fly on the outside goes all the way to the ground so you have perfect rainy weather protection. I have slept through many a gale force wind staked down in my tent. If you are expecting foul weather use all the guylines and stake the tent down good. You'll be surprised.
A designer hat so you don't have to feel foolish wearing one. These hats are the best for doing what they are designed for. I have two.
Start keep a journal today, you'll thank yourself in the future. My mom passed away in 2010 and she left behind a closet full of daily journals she has left for us. What a treasure to keep the memories alive.
Rainy days do happen - make the most of it.
Preparations For Camping With Kids
Can one really ever be ready?
Since we bought our canoe in the spring we've gone on a few camping trips. My nieces laugh at the stories of when I was tipped out of the canoe. So maybe my stories are a bit embellished but really, can you blame me.
Now that I volunteered to take them I must get ready. All my gear is designed for two so I have to gear up for a family-size campsite now. That means more fire power and a change in menu.
I need a bigger stove or at least another like the one I got. A butane stove is still the best bet. I can always use another burner anyways. I'll have to dig deep to think up something new in the way of cooking for more.
Entertainment. I can only do so much canoeing in one day. I guess hiking is out unless I make it more interesting. I can just hear the complaining now. I suppose I could teach them how to make a kite and fly it in the field.
Do you think it wise to teach them how to make a fire? We could make fire-starters for sure. They can be a part of that.
I'll have to make a list of things to take. My field guides of course - I don't have all the answers.
What Needs Be To Done Before The Day
- Make reservations. Nothing would make the weekend start off on the wrong foot if you got to a campground only to find all the sites were filled, especially if you are getting there late. I don't plan to get to the campsite until close to dark leaving me an hour to setup camp but that would be plenty of time if the site was there waiting. Make the reservation. Don't take the chance. In Alberta I use Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca
- Don't get caught up in the Excitement When I go camping myself everything has a place. I'm like that. I try and make things as familiar as possible. Tarp over the table first. Then tent up. When the gear is all stowed then it is time to survey the area. Find the path to the washrooms, the water and the wood. With a group you would think it is easier to accomplish this task but it never fails in taking longer, so be prepared
- Be Properly Papered Don't get caught without the proper paperwork. Besides the reservation there may be other permits. Fire permits, park passes, fishing licenses. You are there to have fun , not stand in long lines before you can do anything. Get the permits first.
- Dress for the Weather and the Activities No one wants rain but if you are dressed for the weather a rainy day hike or scavenger hunt could be fun. When I was a kid the last thing to stop me from doing anything was the weather. I spent more time camping in the winter than summer only because the winter is so much longer here. We have to be protected from the sun too, sun glasses and a hat are a must. Long sleeves protect against mosquitoes as well. A camp jacket for evenings around the campfire. Now I had a camp hat and blanket that I sewed badges and patches from all the different places we visited. Back then the car window had decals from all the parks we went through as well. They don't do that anymore. My camp blanket was lost is a move one year so I have lost that memento but not the memory. Start your own.
- Camp Safety Make sure the layout of the camp is safe. Mark all guy-lines for tarps and tents that cross or are near walkways with bright ribbons to make them more visible. Make sure you have a clothes line up so you can air sleeping bags to ensure they are nice and dry for the night. Every camper needs a flashlight as well, for midnight trips to the washroom if necessary. Myself I hate flashlights but that's me.
You also need a place to dry towels. Camp sanitation is a priority as well Use three dish pans - one for washing, one with a diluted bleach solution for sanitizing and the last for rinsing. Use as hot a water as you can handle and let the dishes air dry before putting them back in their covered containers. Never just toss the dishwater, dig a small hole and pour the dishwater in that making sure you fill the hole back in before you leave.
Never bring food into the tent. That goes for snacks as well. This will go a long way to keeping animals out of the tent. I have even heard of changing clothes before entering the tent so the daytime clothes you used for cooking and eating in never enter the tent. I have never had any animal encounters that close before but then I do take precautions as well.
Food should be locked up in the vehicle over night.
Have a Rainy Day Plan
Make sure you have some board games or some activities you can do if you get rained out or are otherwise stuck in a tent. Or organize and document the days photos while they are still fresh in memory. Encourage the keeping of a camp log book.
The last shot I took before I was dumped out of my canoe.
Sadly our scheduled camp out was cancelled due to a sickness in the family. I'll update this with more pictures when we get another chance. Stay tuned.