July 2, 2012

Toddlers and Tents

Camping is my favorite way to spend a vacation. Maybe it is because my mind is so restless that vacations where I am supposed to lounge around just make me anxious. I've been told this might change with age and I am still waiting for that transformation, but for now I like being busy with lots of tasks all day and then chilling out under the stars with a good fire at night.

We finally kicked off this season with our first car-camping overnight of the year. I had no idea what to expect now that we have a very mobile little boy to chase around the campsite. Yes, it was more challenging than last year with a small baby and a small tent... but it was way more fun because Little Smith 'got it' and he loved it all as much as his mom and pop.

We ended up going to a new to us campground on a lovely lake. There was lots of beach going (which I will share in a future post because I had a hard enough time widdling down campsite photos to these few!).

Little Smith ruled the campgrounds and ran in circles and chased after balls for hours. He did not want his fun to be interrupted for anything and diaper changes on the picnic table were fit-worthy (no knocks about the sanitary questionability of this strategy... it worked!).

One of the best decisions we made was bringing a booster seat with a tray. It kept Little S way more focused on his meal than if he were roaming free and it also gave us a safe spot to contain him for a bit while we did some chores. I am a new fan of this inexpensive one we got recently. I will sheepishly admit that I'm a total design snob when it comes to baby stuff so I wasn't sure, but that tray is heaven and it's very secure.

Another strategy that worked well was our firepit warning lines. We drew two lines around the firepit and talked to Little Smith about it being 'hot' and not crossing the line. He actually understood pretty well and if he forgot for a moment and crossed that first line we would tell him to 'stop' and look at the lines and he would pause and then back up. Success!

We decided to lug along a playpen for this trip. I love the idea of all just flopping down together but we've been there, and this kid just seems to do better with some boundaries. Getting to sleep was rough because it was so bright (yellow may not have been the wisest choice for tent selection). We ended up forgetting our normal 7PM bedtime and hanging out on the beach watching the sunset which was actually fun. Once it was dark Little S did sleep well... until the sun rose. We all got less sleep than usual but it could have been worse. I'll take it.

I thought our  new four person tent was so gigantic, coming from our backpacking tents this thing is a palace. As it turns out though almost every family at this campground had an even bigger setup so ours actually looked petite. Still, being able to stand up inside to change is an exciting new luxury!

We really lucked out with great weather, nice fellow campers, and being right on the lake. Sadly this place seems to be booked for most of the summer on the week-ends. I am pushing for a mid-week visit and hopefully scoring one of the gorgeous lakefront sites.

I have been smelling the campfire ever since we returned (two weeks ago!). I mean literally, I kept smelling campfire. I finally discovered my hoodie hanging on the back of the closet door... acting like a giant campfire scented air freshener. Now that it's finally been washed we are ready for our next camping adventure!


  1. Beautiful! There is nothing like time together in the great outdoors!

  2. Great pictures. Looks like you had an amazing time.

  3. The tent looks great, I have a 4 sleeper but it's a bit too cramped! Funny about the hoodie, I love the smell of a campfire but I notice how much they make my clothes stink, definitely need to go straight in the wash. Enjoy your week :)

  4. The trip looks like so much fun! The closest we've come to camping since we had Gus was once a tent in our living room and then an overnight in a yurt recently. I've been kind of unsure about camping with him AND the dogs but your pictures make me think we should just do it. Glad you guys had a great time!!

  5. Great idea with the firepit warning lines! Such a good way to put things into very understandable terms for a toddler instead of just saying "no" all the time. And I really like Little S's Keith Haring bib.

    Wouldn't it be so cool to have the kind of tent they use in the Harry Potter books? Small tent on the outside, fully furnished condo on the inside.

  6. I echo Allison-- brilliant idea with the fire lines! Everything looks sunshine & bliss-- how much fun!

  7. I love that you guys do this. I think it is so brave! You do make it look like fun. When I was a girl and teenager, I used to love camping. But we haven't taken the boys camping yet, more due to lack of equipment than anything!

  8. I love the fire lines idea too! I remember bringing the booster seat camping. It was a big help indeed. Looks like lots of fun. Amazing how far ahead people book the sites for weekends isn't it? I just can't decide in February where I'm going in the summer. We will have to do mid-week too! :)

  9. it looked like such a great time! i love how you drew the two lines around the campfire..that's such a good idea. little smith looked like he was really enjoying himself on the table in that chair!

  10. I love these pictures! They remind me of camping with the boys last year when we fit two pack-n-plays in our 6 person tent. It worked well when they were younger. On this last trip we all slept together on the ground and that made for some pretty cuckoo night adventures but it was fun all waking up together - super EARLY but oh well! ;)


  11. Looks like such a fun family camping trip! Great pictures- you all look so happy (except for the changing table one).

  12. It looks like you had so much fun! It's awesome that Little Smith was able to enjoy the camping as well. And how neat that he understood about the warning lines!

  13. There's something special about cooking a meal outside.
    These photos are super sweet!


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