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25 June . 2024

The Do's (and Don'ts) for Camping with Your Kids in the PNW

Camping is one of the more affordable vacations that will create countless memories for the whole family. You see kids of all ages on trails all the time, so it must be easy! Yet in the back of your mind, you might wonder: would my kids be that well behaved or will I do something wrong and then they’ll be scared of camping for the rest of their lives?

One breath in. One breath out.

Camping with your kids can sound pretty daunting for many parents. Every new experience seems like an experiment – even putting sunscreen on can be a whole rigmarole. Certainly, there’s an understandable pressure when you want to ensure the excursion goes well. However, with a few extra tips and thoughtful planning you can cover the bases and venture into the bountiful nature at Tehaleh’s doorstep to set yourself up for success. Let’s discover the best camping strategy for you and your family.

What to Know About the Planning and Preparation for PNW Camping

  1. Plan Ahead & Choose Family-Friendly Campsites: That campsite 10 miles deep into the wilderness on a picturesque alpine lake? That’s a steep learning curve. Instead, opt for campsites that offer amenities like clean restrooms and showers, running water, and open spaces for children to play and explore. State parks tend to be safe bets and often have playgrounds. Doing a quick search for family friendly campgrounds will be easier to find the fun rather than create it. To keep your mind at ease, always check for campsite reservations.
  2. Check the Weather: What’s happening at home is not necessarily how your campsite will be. Prepare for rain, sun, wind, and definitely bring a tent (and stakes and a waterproof fly!) that can handle the weather you’re expecting.
  3. Involve Your Kids: Engaging your kids in the planning process builds excitement and can teach them the value of being resourceful. Let them help with packing and choosing activities for the camping trip. Your 8-month-old may not have the best suggestions just yet, so your mileage may vary.

Packing Essentials for PNW Camping with Kids

First off, keep it simple. If you overpack, no sweat. Every trip will be a new learning opportunity. Stick to the essentials and expand on the other necessities to ensure a smooth transition.

  1. Layered Clothing: Pack layers to handle the PNW’s variable climate. Include rain gear, hats, and extra socks to keep your kids dry and warm.
  2. Comfortable Sleeping Gear: Ensure everyone has a cozy sleeping setup. Bring sleeping bags, pillows, and possibly air mattresses or sleeping pads. The more it feels like a pared back version of home, the better. And of course, bring blankie.
  3. Nutritious Snacks and Meals: Pack plenty of easy-to-prepare meals and healthy snacks that your kids enjoy. Peanut butter, apples, and tortillas are perfect quick snack options. Rice, chicken, and a little bit of seasoning can do wonders. For those perishable items, bring a cooler and ice.

Packing Checklist

  • Tent(s) with a rain fly and stakes
  • Clothing for various weather conditions
  • Extra emergency clothing, dry and stowed in the car
  • Sleeping bags, pillows, and sleeping pads
  • Portable crib or air mattress for younger kids
  • Rain gear and extra socks
  • Food, snacks, and cooking supplies
  • Paper towels, napkins, cleaning wipes, trash bags
  • Water bottles and hydration packs
  • First-aid kit and medications
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Toys, books, and games
  • Flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries
  • Comfort items like blankets and stuffed animals
  • Towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Soap and shampoo

Extras for babies & toddlers:

  • Diapers or pull-ups, wipes, changing pad
  • Toddler-friendly snacks and meals
  • Sippy cups, utensils, and a portable highchair or booster seat
  • Toddler-safe sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Shade or umbrella

Safety first, last, and always.

Getting to the campsite with everything you need is the first step, next is a little lesson plan to keep everyone safe. You are the family nature ranger, and your kids are scouts. Keep lines of communication clear from the get-go so that everyone is on the same page.

  1. Set Boundaries: Clearly define campsite boundaries and discuss safety rules with your kids. You can bike around the campground loop but don’t go wandering into other people’s campsites! And don’t eat any berries!
  2. Emergency Plan: Have a plan in case of emergencies. Know the location of the nearest hospital, triple check that your first aid kit is restocked, and have a fully charged phone. Remind your kids that the campground host is someone they can go to for help.
  3. Supervision: It goes without saying, but keep a close eye on younger kids, especially around the campfire and near water.

Activities for Kids While Camping in the PNW

  1. Nature Exploration: Plan hikes, nature walks, and exploration activities. Bring a guidebook or use an app like Seek to help identify plants, animals, and insects native to the PNW.
  2. Campfire Fun: Teach kids about fire safety. Explain the delicate art of making s’mores. Tell stories, like the one about the squirrel who loved camping because he could always sleep soundly throughout the night. Tread carefully with scary stories and keep the mood light.
  3. Scavenger Hunts: During the day you’ll have lots of time between meals. What better than a nature scavenger hunt to keep kids engaged? On a hike, see who can find the most insects. Count how many dogs you see. Or how many different flowers you can find.
  4. Crafts and Games: Bring materials for coloring books, nature crafts, or simple card games that can wile away the hours when you’re back at camp.

Comfort and Routine While Camping in the PNW

  1. Maintain Routines: Even though the sun sets later in the summertime, it’s important to stick to regular meal and bedtime routines to help kids feel comfortable and secure.
  2. Comfort Items: Bring favorite blankets, stuffed animals, or books to help kids settle in at night.
  3. Nighttime Essentials: Bring flashlights, lanterns, and glow sticks to help kids feel safe in the dark.

Additional Tips

  1. Stay Flexible: Be prepared for plans to change. You know how it is. When you’re away from home, not everything can go as planned, so the key is to improvise and embrace the unpredictability of camping with kids.
  2. Teach Leave No Trace: Teach kids the importance of leaving the campsite as they found it and respecting nature. The scariest bug to find at a campsite is a litterbug!
  3. Have Fun: Embrace the adventure and enjoy the opportunity to create lasting memories with your kids. Someone is likely going to cry, but it’s important to be resilient and not let one bad moment define the entire trip.

Explore & Experience

As you venture out and away from Tehaleh, you’ll miss some simple things like a hot shower and your cozy bed, but it’s even likelier you’ll appreciate the extended neighborhood that is now a part of your true home. Living in Tehaleh is living life in the PNW at its best. If you would like to learn more about Tehaleh, we’d love to show you where nature and life begins.

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