· Get them involved in planning!
o We start talking about camping early in the week before we even start packing for camping. We talk about where we are going and what we could do while we are on our camping trip. If we are heading to Banff, we’ll talk about some of the different hikes we could do, we could hit their favorite playground, ride bikes, see waterfalls ect… get them excited and when you talk about it be over the top excited about it. Your excitement will feed their excitement.
· Bring food they love!
o We try to bring food the kids love when we’re hiking. They wake up to a cup of hot chocolate in the morning, which they only get in the mountains. Knowing what toddlers will eat can be tricky, as it changes every day, but there are usually some tried and true things that are guaranteed to be success when it comes to food. Make as much as you can beforehand and freeze it so you can heat it up fast when the kids get tired. We often bring quesadilla, freeze bean and rice burritos (wrapped in tinfoil) and throw them on the BBQ or in the fire to warm them up, spaghetti sauce is always easy as well. Our kids also get visited by the “mountain bunny” on all our hikes. The mountain bunny poops Hershey’s kisses on the trail when they aren’t looking. This is a great way to keep them hiking. When on holidays in Iceland it was a Puffin that was leaving treats on the trail.
· Teach them about the world around them!
o My daughter has turned four this year and we’ve been talking more and more about the world we live in. When we were in Zion, Utah we talked about the canyons and how canyons are formed. When we are in Banff, Alberta we talk about glaciers, how the mountains were formed, the Ice ages, fossils, wildlife and foliage. We talk about protecting nature and treating wildlife with the respect they deserve.
· Be flexible!
o This is one that I struggle with myself. If I have a plan I find it hard to deviate from that plan. Having two toddlers is teaching me to be less rigid with my plans. Sometimes a big hike, is just not in the cards and you can tell when you wake up it’s just not going to happen. We have never been sit around the campground people, we are usually up early and want to get on with our day, but we are starting to appreciate hanging out in the campground and playing. We play soccer, we play with bubbles, we bring their run bikes, we go to playgrounds. This time in their lives is all about building their love of the outdoors and about nature. This is not about you! You need to put yourself aside and for a few years while you build their love for camping, put yourself and your goals second and their happiness first.
· Bring the right Equipment!
o Make sure you pack what your kids will need to be comfortable. I have spent a night in the backcountry with no sleeping bag and freezing cold because my daughter wouldn’t sleep in hers because it wasn’t warm enough. Plan for everything regarding weather, bugs, sunscreen. We usually have a large Northface duffle packed full of gear. We pack down jackets, rain jackets, rain suits, tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeved shirts, shorts, runners, hiking shoes, sandals, tuques, mitts, buffs, sun hats and the list goes on. Basically, bring everything, because the one thing you leave behind will be the one thing you need. This is for car camping, for backcountry you need to be more strategic and look at multipurpose items.
This should get you started in planning a camping trip. The most important thing is to have fun.