We aren't pros, but we do know alot from just one camping trip! So we've become insta-pros on camping with kids.
Before having kids, we used to camp quite a bit, sometimes at a paying place, sometimes with the cows, sometimes just in the back of truck, I mean, we roughed it right? I thought I had the whole camping thing down. But ever since we've brought babies into the world, we've been just a little shy about going out into the woods with our babies overnight. See, my babies are used to sleeping in their own beds and they sleep like rocks. Getting them to sleep somewhere else, where they can see us right next to them, sleep isn't really in the cards. This being our second time camping with babies was going to be interesting for sure. This was also Stephanie and Dan's first time camping with all four of their kids, so we hoped for the best!
1. Scout Out Your Camping Spot
Since we aren't professional campers, we kind of scouted out our camping area. I have camped multiple times up this canyon, so I had a pretty good idea. There are some paid camping areas that are right by the road and are usually the last to fill up, my least favorite areas. We headed up early in the afternoon so we could get a good camping spot before everyone got off work. In South Fork, they have a bunch of campsites that are nestled right against the river. Since it's been 90 degrees outside still, I knew we wanted a spot close to river. A lot of campsites were already reserved (usually the best ones) but most paid campsites do have "Day of" camp spots that aren't reservable.
2. Pack Lightly.
A double edged sword, I know. But I'm an overpacker. Throughout the years I've been able to comb down my list and refine packing in general, but even with camping I've been able to be a little bit smarter. For instance, I didn't bring a baby carrier, bocce ball, pack and play or my two hammocks that we usually never use. I even could hear my husband saying "We don't really need that."
So I thought I did pretty good, until I realized I didn't bring extra padding for sleeping on the ground in a tent, an extra pillow (because Aiko stole mine), Aiko's kid toilet, or really enough blankets for a family of four to use.
You win some, you lose some.
3. Bring your kids comfort things
This is kind of engrained in my brain anyway, but wherever we go, my kids blankets usually comb. Plus Aiko's monkey. Monkey is key to our eternal happiness. I usually bring along Aiko's toilet, because it's easier and I think the biffy toilets are somewhat terrifying. On this particular trip, I learned that Aiko really likes pillows and doesn't share them.
4. Bring lots of snacks and water.
Whenever we camp we always get hungry. It seems to be never ending. When you add little kids, they are constantly asking for food and something to drink. Always pack enough snack people. Water, I had plans on filling up a big water jug before we left, but then forgot to even fill it up the whole trip. So basically, I just packed around a giant water jug for fun.
(Hat from Utah is Rad, shirt from here.)
5. Pack baby wipes and some kind of hand sanitizer.
I'm not really a germaphobe, but man, can kids get dirty!
6. Pack and plan ahead for each activity.
I'm kind of a free spirit, I like to do random things at any given time. But, I also like to know what options I have to randomly choose. Like I knew we would be by the river, I knew my kids would get wet, I also knew that we could possibly wade or tube down the river. So we packed water toys, swimsuits, life vests, buckets and tubes just in case we went to the river. Most of these items could be used outside of the water. Like the tubes, the kids totally played with them while dinner was cooking. Aiko even liked to sport around in her life vest.
7. Expect dirt, dirtiness and grime. All the time.
Especially if you are by a muddy river. Again, I knew this was an option and a strong possibility, so I brought swim suits that I didn't care if they got stained or ruined. I had just cleaned Orion off and then he decided to literally roll on his stomach and back in the dirt, in his wet suits. So this time I just put his little body into the water and then washed him off and didn't let him touch the ground until we changed out of his wet clothing.
8. Take a deep breath.
I didn't realize what a worry wart I was, maybe it's just the water that freaks me out. The kids wanted to go tubing a ways down the river, so Stephanie walked down so she could catch them. (Ages 10, 8, and 6) I'm not going to lie, it frightens me! But they were completely fine. It's not like it's white rapids or anything. Then, my little almost three year old watches the older kids go down the river and thinks she can too. GAH! She wold just sit in her tube and wade her tiny legs out into the middle of the river. Luckily, the current wasn't too bad and she really isn't that adventurous to go all the way down. She was fine, I was fine.
9. Take some time to learn how to create a fire (a good one) and then teach your kids about it too.
Stephanie's kids are older, so they loved learning about fires and fire safety from their Eagle Scout dad Dan. Dan made a lovely teepee style fire. Make sure to bring enough fire wood too. Starting with the kindling to the bigger logs. Generally, you can also scout out some good wood around the camp area.
10. Bring a few games for slow times.
Camping seems to drag on yet go by so quickly all at the same time. Especially when you have made hobo dinners that need to cook. Aiyayai. Bring games that don't have too many pieces and that you don't mind if some pieces get lost. Stephanie's kids love Blokus and make us their own rules all the time. Luckily, she also brought the Spot It game that Aiko really likes to carry around.
11. Minimize electronic time
That being said, make sure to bring your camera. This is a tricky one. I love camping for the fact that I don't have cell service and I don't have many distractions other than my kids and hunger. I feel like it also brings out your kids imaginations too. Why not play with a stick? Or go snipe hunting?
12. Plan for meals that will fill the belly and prepare ahead of time if possible.
We planned on hobo dinners, because we could make them ahead of time. We wanted just a little more than hot dogs and s'mores. Also, know that your food will likely be burned or contain ash. It's okay.
I was quite impressed with Stephanie's first attempt at Hobo dinners. At first, we had a good laugh, because she wrapped her meals so flat looking. In the end, it happened to work out amazingly! Tips: keep it flat and cut meet into small bite size pieces. It cooks faster and evenly.
Her meals cooked super fast, were tender and delicious. She took hobo dinners to a whole new level.
Stephanie's Mexican Hobo Dinners : Chicken breast, canned black beans, frozen corn, taco seasoning, salsa. She brought sour cream in a little ziploc with cilantro to add on after. Cooked about 10 minutes on each side over the fire on a grill rack we brought.
For the kids Stephanie made hamburger and tatertots with taco seasoning and added kethcup.They ate those puppies right up.
Harmony's Hobo Dinners. I work in a more chaotic way. I follow no recipe and have yet to figure out how to wrap foil dinners to look pretty. A key factor in good hobo dinner is making sure to seal in the steam, it helps cook faster and more evenly. But I do label my hobo dinners with markers. Generally, they are readable even after being in the fire and ash.
For the husband I put cooked ground hamburger, frozen hashbrowns onion, cut carrots and then half a can of cream of chicken/mushroom. I didn't realize people even put cream of stuff in their hobos until I married him. I still find it weird.
My hobo dinners tend to be just vegetables. I don't love cream of anything, so I just put some coconut oil, sweet potatoes, onions, hashbrowns and S&P in mine. I usually make a giant one for the kids and I. I always make extra hobo dinners, because everyone is always wanting more right?
Generally, they only need to cook the carrots, since everything else is already cooked. So I just cook mine for about 20 minutes, but I laid mine right on the ash/fire.
Luckily, we didn't burn quite as much as we usually do.
13. Check the weather and temperature.
Nothing is worse than being cold, especially cold babies at night. During the day, it was like 90+ degrees but at night we definitely needed a jacket for everyone. Even with the fire. Also, always put up your rain flap for the tent, I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about people getting rained on when it isn't suppose too. Jackets always work well for make shift pillow as well.
14. Go for a little nature walk.
It's always fun to walk around the camp and check for wildlife. Especially after eating a good meal. We watched a herd of deer bound up the mountain.
We had assigned my little sister to bring the s'mores, but she took a while getting to the campsite, we we weren't able to do s'mores in the light.
Stephanie did bring some popcorn for us to try.
We weren't very successful with it. The instructions did say not to cook over an open fire...but what else would you do?! Next time, we'll get one of these.
I actually love to take popcorn kernels and through them in the first. Sometimes they pop out on the ground and then we scoop them up and eat it. Told you, germs aren't a big deal when camping.
15. Plan a snipe hunt.
Don't know what snipe hunting is? Well, they are quite evasive creatures and somewhat of a good campfire story. Our snipes are very small and only come out a night. They love marshmallows and are drawn to noises like taking two sticks and hitting them against each other. How do you catch a snipe? You have to use a pillow case and lure them out with a marshmallow in the pillowcase and knocking on sticks. We actually caught a snipe after a good 20 minutes or searching for them! Zarin was jumping all over the bushes trying to catch the snipe. The kids loved petting it while it munched on a marshmallow IN the pillowcase. One is not always successful at catching a snipe, so we were very lucky.
15. Prepare for very little sleep.
Because you'll be having too much fun talking around the fire, playing Spot it and just giggling in the tent with the babies. Or maybe you'll get super lucky and your kids will sleep like champs. Either way, I feel like I mentally prepared myself for little sleep, so it wasn't quite as bad as I thought.
That night, it was kind of rough. I had my husband bring the pack and play and set it up on one side of the tent. Orion wouldn't have it. My babies have a hard time when they aren't sleeping in their beds, so my husband went to bed early with them. (So nice of him right?!) It took a good hour before everyone fell asleep. When I came in around 11:30 there was just sleeping babes everywhere. Aiko had stolen my pillow and all the blankets. So I snuggled in close and made her hold my finger. She never cuddles when awake and never falls asleep in my arms so it was kind of fun to steal some snuggling time from her. The babies woke up a few times during the night, but for some reason, they wanted nothing to do with me. My husband is the favorite parent, so they wanted all his love. At one point he had both babies snuggled in his sleeping bag with him.
Stephanie's littles did pretty well sleeping through the night, but Stephanie said she was freezzzzzing all night! Come to find out, she didn't have anything under her queen size sleeping bag so the cold just crept right in. Her husband didn't sleep much either. Baby Ellis woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to snuggle. You'd think with all that queen sized sleeping bag they would have been all warm and cozy. Next time, she'll bring a blanket to put under or a mat.
All in all, it was a magical night. Really.
Morning came much too quickly and early. Aiko woke up because she moved and smacked her head against mine. After that, everyone was up and we were ready to roll for the day!
Our family was in charge of breakfast.
So I brought my little Coleman stove to cook eggs, sausage and muffins. I also brought some cheese. I recently inherited a large wooden box with all my uncle's camping stuff in it. He has everything in there, plates, utensils, a cast iron griddle, pots, pans, shovel...everything. The wooden box weighs a ton but it's like Mary Poppins magic bag, it just keeps on giving! Except for I completely forgot about hot chocolate or tea for breakfast.
Always bring hot chocolate or tea for breakfast when camping.
The cast iron griddle worked great over the fire to toast the bread. I cooked the eggs in a large pot and the sausages I actually cooked on the griddle before we put it on the fire. We even let the kids cook their own sausages over the fire if they wanted.
I've always hated clean up when camping. Since we were only staying the one night, I will usually just pack up the dirty dishes and take them home to wash.
My little sister Hali brought along 3 friends and they all hung some hammocks and slept in them. Apparently, this is what all the college kids do. They slept like logs. Luckily, we brought along our Hobo Hammock to play in. One day, when our kids are older, I plan on trying this out for everyone. Hali says its quite comfy and keeps all the bugs out.
17. Create lasting memories.
I'm about to get all mushy. I know it seems stressful sometimes, but you'll create these crazy moments and memories you'll never forget. Heck you may even laugh about them and then tell the funny stories around the fire. I know that's what we do. We camped all the time as kids and have all sorts of terrible, funny stories. Nothing is better than a good belly laugh by the fire. It's amazing, try to camp at least once in your life with your kids, you won't regret it.
- South Fork Campground is located on the banks of the South Fork Ogden River at an elevation of 5,200 feet, just 7 miles from Huntsville, Utah. Campers love the park for its great river access. Tubing and fishing are very popular activities.
- This scenic campground is situated among cottonwoods and willow. Moose and deer wander through the campground on occasion. The South Fork runs alongside the campground.
- This campground has first-come, first-served sites
- A per-day, per-vehicle fee is collected on-site for extra vehicles
- Campers enjoy fishing and tubing on the South Fork. Several hiking and mountain biking trails begin in the area.
- The campground contains several single and double-family sites with picnic tables, campfire rings, utility tables and cement site pads. Vault toilets and drinking water are provided. Firewood is available for purchase from the host. Roads and parking spurs are gravel.
- Beautiful Ogden Valley has numerous boating, fishing, hiking, horseback and off-road vehicle riding and scenic driving opportunities. Pineview Reservoir is a short drive from the campground with boating, fishing and swimming.
- Causey Reservoir is close by, offering great canoeing and fishing, as well as hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
- Highway 39 continues on to Monte Cristo Summit with sweeping mountain views. ATV and hiking trails are abundant in the area.
Reservations must be made 4 Day(s) ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 Month(s) in advance.
- Sun Sep 06 2015 - Wed Mar 02 2016
Campground allows and includes
Biking (bring your own), Campfire Rings, Drinking Water, Firewood (forage or purchase), Fishing, Hiking, Host, Parking Area, Picnic Area, River Access, Trash Collection, Tubing (bring your own), Vault Toilets.