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Camping with kids for beginners

This post was originally published on the 2nd November 2011 on the website Mums on the Go. With Mums on the Go closing down in March 2016 I wanted to ensure this story was preserved.

Camping was a really important part of my childhood. My Dad had a great group of friends from Uni who all had kids around the same time and would set off on bush camping adventures … dig a trench for a toilet kind of camping. In turn I grew up loving bushwalking and being away from the hustle and bustle of other people.


camping with kidsMy favourite childhood camping spot – Snowy River, NSW

Before having children my husband and I had many great hiking/camping adventures together. Multi day walks, carrying everything we needed to eat, sleep and stay warm on our backs which meant keeping things small, light and to the bare essentials.

treking in Nepal

My honeymoon – treking in Nepal


So when it came time to think about camping with small children it was quite hard for us to adjust to a new way of thinking. More gear, much bigger tent, probably driving to our destination and camping with lots of other people around.

When my eldest was about 18 months old we invested in our “family” tent and set off camping for 1 night. We invited another family with an 18 month old and we all shared our tent together. I couldn’t bring myself to ‘car camp’ so I picked a campsite that involved a 500m walk from carpark. It was a great weekend but as it was only 1 night it didn’t feel “real”.


family campingOur first night in our new tent


So last weekend we set off for 3 nights to Wilsons Promontory with a 3.5 year old, an 11 month old baby and a good friend. The weather forecast was for showers, wind and top temps of 13C … hardly enticing.

I reached out on facebook to seasoned family campers for tips to make this a great weekend – tips included:

  • Take lots of things to keep them entertained in the tent if its raining
  • Take lots of snacks
  • Take lots of blankets or extra clothes to wear in bed
  • Buckets to put wet shoes in
  • If your child is toilet trained at night, use the bucket to pee in, so you dont’ have to do the horrid walk to the toilets in the middle of the night!!!
  • gumboots and a rain coat
  • take the car dvd it is good as well when raining to sit in the tent and watch movies
  • Lay out nappy changing gear and kids spare clothes before you go to sleep and have a small torch next to you.


So what was our camping adventure like and what did I learn?

  • Wombats like gumboots: our first night a wombat came to visit, dug a hole under the tent fly and left a “present” on the gumboots we had borrowed for Miss 3. She thought it was fantastic a wombat had come to say hello!
  •  It is really cold at night: the nights were cold and VERY windy. We all slept in many layers of clothes and that seemed to do the trick. I dresses my kids in their clothes for the next day, then PJ’s on top … that way I didn’t have to strip them the next morning in the cold.
  • Camping with the masses has an upside and a downside: The upside was there were plenty of kids for Miss 3 to hang with, play hide and seek with etc. Hot showers were also much appreciated. The downside was how noisy it was at night … I craved the silence of the bush as I listened to the really annoying teenage girls next door still shrieking, swearing and carrying on like idiots after 10pm.
  • Snack and Activities: lots of snacks was a very good tip – both my girls had extra appetites. A result of fresh air and activity but I also think an important part of staying warm.
  • Babies, tent, sleep: these things don’t seem to go well together
  • Camping brings out the best in Miss 3: she really was wonderful to be with. She listened well, she played really happily in the tent with colouring in and finger puppets when the rain forced us to say indoors, and she had a great time bushwalking with a few “treats” to help keep her spirits and motivation up along the way.



kids campingAn upside to camping with the masses … Icecream available while adults set up the tent.


Overall we had a great weekend and look forward to more camping over summer when we return to Sydney … hopefully this also means much warmer camping! I did find managing the cold and little kids the hardest part of the weekend.

Like all things it will also get much easier the more often we do it.

Linda {RGB}

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