When I was fifteen years old I met my future husband at band camp. We were married five years later and as we approach our 20th anniversary (yes—you mommy math whizzes—that makes me 40), and I prepare to send my own kids to camp, I find myself reminiscing about that momentous summer. And being pretty freaked out about what my kids are about to do.
Going to camp is an exciting summer activity for kids. Meeting new people, learning new games and going on adventures are some camp memories that are never forgotten. We have compiled a list of camp must-haves that will make your kids experience at camp even better…
1. Pop Clocky. As most of us know, being at camp doesn’t mean sleeping in. Early wake up calls are inevitable. With Pop Clocky you can wake up the whole cabin with a fun start to the day. Pop Clocky resembles a Jack-in-a-box and makes early mornings fun. Sunny, Rosy, Gilbert and Charlie will make sure everyone up with the birds.
2. Allergy alerts from Mabel’s Labels will ensure that the peanut butter doesn’t pass the lips when the kids come back from canoeing a wee bit dazed and sunburned.
3. A few healthy snacks. Hippie Foods coconut snacks arrived at our office and I’m now hoarding them in my desk…. .
4. A Flashlight. For those long walks back to the cabin, in the woods, a flashlight is useful for avoiding injuries. We found one that’s also a portable music player – the Hipstreet bluetooth speaker/radio with flashlight will keep them dancing around the campfire!
5. A Journal. You can’t experience your child’s week at camp with them, so, by getting them to keep a journal they can keep up their writing skills and share every bit of their experience with you when they get home. We love this robot illustrated Mudpuppy journal/sketchbook from Raspberry Kids.
6. A water bottle. Though you won’t be there to tell them to drink water and stay hydrated every minute, getting them to bring a water bottle will encourage them to drink more water and I’m sure they will be thanking you later. Having one of these adorable SIGG animals will make them want to keep it close.
7. An Eco Lunchbox. For those days when they’ll be going on an adventure and will be needing to carry around some snacks with them.
8. A backpack. A a similar idea to the eco lunchbox, when your kid is going on an adventure they will have a lot to carry. Whether it be sunscreen, a water bottle or a flashlight, your kid will be glad to have a backpack to put it all in. Companies like Land’s End allow for easy personalization.
9. Their own pillow case. She won’t have a chance to miss home when dozing off on this festive Mum pillowcase from Pottery Barn Kids. Better yet – you’ll avoid having a child return home with lice. It will be a reminder of home and be a lice blocker at the same time!
Pre-kids, you used to hoist a bunch of stuff onto your back, portage a canoe and enjoy a romantic long weekend in the woods. Suddenly, there were three of you. Or four. Do camping and kids mix? Absolutely and we’ve got tips for camping with kids and babies so you don’t have to throw away your old life when you have children – you just have to adapt. By integrating the things you love into your parenting approach, your kids will learn from your excitement, and you will be a happier person. We interviewed avid woods-Mom Carrie Roxburgh, a Canadian mom of boys who was a skilled camper pre-kids. She’s helped us compile the UrbanMommies top 20 list of stuff you need to know when camping with children:
1. Car Camping. Drive in, leave the cooler in the car, and don’t even try to hike into a campsite with the amount of stuff you need. There are lots of great fun, kid-friendly campsites.
2. You’ll need a bigger tent, 6 x 6 x 6. Mountain Equipment Co-op is always reasonable and great quality. And grab a tarp while you’re there.
3. Get a cooler on wheels.
4. While a 7 oz camp stove used to suffice, you’ll need something a bit larger, like a Coleman 2-burner stove.
5. Invest in a Kettle.
6. One of the biggest differences post kids for Carrie was meal planning. In considering nutrition for her kids, she realized that you can’t just eat hotdogs and freeze dried food (darn). She pre-cuts veggies and loads up on tinfoil so that there are always healthy sides for the kids.
7. Bring your old smaller tent and split up your children at bedtime to make getting them to sleep easier. Transfer them into your own larger tent later.
8. Make sure you bring a few comforts of home for the kids: teddy bears and pillows are great.
9. Shopping for special new kids’ sleeping bags makes the experience all the more memorable.
10. Don’t forget the toys! Trucks, sand toys, and sports stuff make outdoors fun, and board games can be played in the tent during rain.
11. Speaking of which… don’t forget rain gear.
12. A Wagon – that way the kids can help schlep stuff too. (And it can make for some super-fun photo ops).
13. Bug sprays are a must, but with kids, you have to be careful. If Avon Skin so Soft isn’t your preference, you can try: Buzz Away, available at Lavish and Lime.
14. Lifejackets: if you’re by a lake, save yourself a panic attack and make a rule that life jackets have to be worn at all times when near the water.
15. Baby Wipes. No explanation needed.
16. Lots of warm clothes.
17. Sunscreen: Badger and Green Beaver are great picks, available at Raspberry Kids
18. Buy milk in tetra packs that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
19. Glow sticks (and flashlights with extra batteries).
20. First Aid Kit for the little boo-boos. And while you’re at it, program emergency numbers and the number for the campground or park into your cell phone.
– Keep a journal
– Talk about the birds and the bees. No really.
– Talk about bear awareness and maybe a game of charades would be fun at this point
– Give each child a disposable camera
Kid-friendly Campgrounds across Canada:
Try the Canadian Tire Campsite Selector
Alberta: www.TravelAlberta.com 1-800-ALBERTA).
– Jill Amery would love to take the kids camping, particularly if it means that we don’t have to pick up Lego pieces.