It’s Memorial day weekend, and many of you are headed out into the woods seeking adventure and camping fun. Some of my fondest, childhood vacations were the ones spent by the side of the lake, breathing in the fresh forest smell, and picking the dried mud from my toes.
My camping fun-o-meter has dropped substantially since becoming a parent. I love the idea of it, but somewhere between the massive sleep loss, the ruined clothes, and the I-can’t-find-my-child panic attacks, I come home determined to never be talked into going again.
For those of you who have forgotten how miserable it is or are simply gluttons for punishment, here is a list of 10 Things You Should Take Camping With Kids:
An Extra Bag of Marshmallows – We all know at least half of them are going up in flames.
Pizza – Tinfoil dinners always take at least 3 times longer to cook than you were planning. If you would like to avoid an ugly Hunger Games like scene for the last of the pringles from the trip up, bring a pizza to tide everyone over.
Corn Flakes – Your mouth watering breakfast menu of open-fire bacon, eggs, and pancakes is going to be a huge hit. Unfortunately, the kids are going to up and hungry long before it’s completed, so give them a bowl of cereal to keep the wild stomach growling down. We wouldn’t want to disturb the other campers.
Costco Size Bottle of Hand Sanitizer – I hate to break this to you, but wipes aren’t going to cut it. You may be able to cut through the quarter inch thick mud momentarily, but between the watermelon juice and the endless supply of mud, clean hands and faces don’t stand a chance. Don’t stress it. Just give them a squirt of the germ juice before dinner, and hope for the best.
A Top Secret Water Bottle Stash – Any water your kids are aware of is going to be dumped out. Half of it will go to the dirt underneath the 5 gallon water cooler. They know they aren’t supposed to press the button, but they just can’t help themselves. The rest will be wasted in a hopeless battle against little grimy hands or in mixing up a mud concoction that muddied the hands to begin with.
Rain Tarp – You’re camping! It’s going to rain. Instead of grumbling over your misfortune, be grateful for the free shower your kids are getting. Top each of their heads with a drop of shampoo and send them out while you scramble to pile all of the sleeping bags in the center of the tent.
Copious Amounts of Sunscreen – The kids are still going to come home sunburned, but hopefully you can moderate the intensity of the redness and limit your parent guilt.
An Extra Pair of Shoes – You’ll be glad you did when your child’s shoes disappear in the woods, get buried in the mud, or melt due to close proximity to the fire.
A Pillow – I know you’re roughing it and all, but you are not as young as you used to be. Between nighttime bathroom run assists, children crawling into your sleeping bag for warmth, and the calls of the wild around you, you’re going to need all the help you can get. At least be comfortable while you’re awake all night.
A Camera – You may never want to go camping again after this outing, so take lots of pictures. The kids will look back and laugh at how filthy they were, and there will be photo documentation that you were an adventurous parent, at least once.