Tips for Camping With Kids

Mar 22, 2016
By: Ann Whittaker

To Bring or Not to Bring Hot Dogs?

Blessed are the parents who take their kids camping, for they shall inherit sanity. Camping is a skill, and learning what to pack is an art that develops after mud, sweat and tears. You won’t forget the baby wipes ever, ever again after you do so the first time. And you’ll find out why you wish you would have brought a harmonica. Find out what to pack for food, hygiene, gear, clothing, and fun activities.

Hygiene & Campground Cleanliness

Baby Wipes: a package of baby wipes. A big package. For use on the human body and also those stickified dishes.

Toilet Paper: An entire roll. Yes, the whole roll because it weighs nothing and can be squished into small spaces. You'll want one roll for every two nights you'll be out. Don’t be fooled if there’s a public restroom at the campground--you’ll be glad you have your own toilet paper because you might have to blow your nose and you don’t want to trek all the way to the bathroom just to blow your nose.

Table Cloth: Because picnic tables at campsites can be covered in old spills and bird poop. Yes, you’re camping, but you don’t have to live like barbarians!

Garbage Bags: for garbage, of course, but also as a dirty clothes hamper. And if you think kids get dirty at home, boy oh boy do they get dirty in the dirt, and mud, and rivers, and moss, and swamps, and s’mores, and hot chocolate.

Baggies: all kinds.

Emergency Toilet: Some campsites don’t have toilets (check before you go!), and it’s nice to not have to dig a hole--especially in redrock country where digging a hole isn’t very easy in a lot of places.

Rope: for a clothesline to dry your clothes. If you forget the rope, you can always go old-school and hang them on branches.

Our top 5 favorite campgrounds:

Ruby's Inn RV Park & Campground (Bryce Canyon National Park)

Sandcreek RV Park & Campground (Capitol Reef National Park)

Zion River Resort (Zion National Park)

Escalante Outfitters Campground (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument)

Cedar Springs Campground (Flaming Gorge)

Hiking to Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park

Clothing & Gear

Soft knit hat: for sleeping in--even in the summer months. Remember, Utah is a desert and, even though the days get freakin’ hot, the nights will cool down quite a bit.

Stretchy gloves: (as opposed to stretchy pants if you’re a luchador). You’ll want stretchy gloves in the morning because they’re great for holding hot mugs and stuff.

Head lamps: you’ll want enough head lamps for everyone. You don’t want to share your light. In fact, hide it under a bushel so no one steals yours. Then you’re in trouble when you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Light is essential to your willingness to leave the tent when you really, really, really have to.

2 lanterns: and they better be good. You’ll want a lantern for the tent and one for your picnic table.

Fire Starters: not fireworks. Lighter fluid or prove your mad skills with two sticks and the magic of friction.

Flip-Flops: because you shouldn’t allow hiking shoes in the tent, and it’s nice to have something to slip on and off with ease to give your boot-suffocated feet some air.

Camping on BLM land near Moab, Utah

Food

Pro-tip: avoid bringing food that needs refrigeration like milk and meat

Condiment Packages: stock up on mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard packets because they’re compact and you don’t have to worry about keeping them cool.

Yogurt: yogurt keeps better than milk, and it’s packed with protein...and, if your kids won at the grocery store, it’s also got some sugar in it that they can run off when you’re on that morning hike.

Cream Cheese: refrigeration isn’t as necessary, but keep it in a shady cool place because Utah is the desert and it gets hot and cream cheese hates heat.

Lovely Pre-Cooked Meats: like hot dogs. If you gotta bring some meat, stick with hot dogs and maybe some vienna sausages. And if you’re feeling really fancy, bring along the potted meat. It’s a classic. Or, you know what, just bring some jerky.

Bagels: not bread. Your bread will get squished in the car or in your backpack or in between a squirrel’s massive hands before it steals an entire loaf and hauls it up a tree and chirps at you in mocking laughter. Anyway, spread some cream cheese on some bagels for all those hiking excursions you’ll be taking.

Oranges: Cuties for the kids. They’re juicy and delicious and come in their own packing (the peel). Plus, they smell good.

Water Cooler with lots and lots of water.

Hot Drink Mixes

Oatmeal: if you make your own mix of oatmeal, add some powdered milk.

Tin-foil dinners: carrots, potatoes, garlic and your favorite veggie medley, all wrapped up in tinfoil. Tip: they take a very long time to cook. Pre-cook the insides at home, and then just warm them up in the campfire. Bonus: bring along some rosemary bread to accompany this hearty meal.

Hiking in Negro Bill Canyon, Moab

Campground Fun Activities

**Card Games

Harmonicas

Knitting + Yarn** for making God’s Eyes

Books that all kids would like to hear (Harry Potter, Chronicles of Prydain or the Hobbit)

Stop at Visitor Centers: they usually have kids’ packets and activities like pioneer games and science expeditions

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