Shall we?

Let’s go camping!

WITH the kids!


Let’s do it.

This is the perfect weekend to try it out. Now, I realize camping is a bit of an acquired taste. I do. And, honestly, there is always a moment (or 5) on our trips when I think maybe I should just wander into the woods and leave the madness behind. BUT. The other 95% of the time? Camping is a good time. You just need to be prepared. Living simply doesn’t necessarily mean you can just walk out the door without a plan. Or a list. Or, in our case, spreadsheets. What DOES camping mean?

Break from the usual schedule

24-hour double-parenting

new parks and adventures

mandatory beach time

mandatory campfire time

poor cell phone service

freedom from regular chores

I’d gladly trade the extra work it takes to make meals happen outdoors for that list above. In a heartbeat. Even with my children involved… and they’ve all been ten-camping since they were 5-months old… EVEN WITH THE KIDS, it’s a good time.

We leave tomorrow for a quick trip down the Michigan coastline to Hoffmaster State Park. I’ve actually never camped here overnight before, but it’s close and it’s a long weekend and it’s time to break out the gear.

Absolutes for me:

  1. baby powder – baby powder gets sand OFF and OUT of everything/one. It soaks up the moisture and allows the san the just brush right off. There must be a large bottle of baby powder in the vehicle at all times.
  2. pickle wraps – I’ve talked about pickle wraps before, I know… but these are a Mulder Staple when camping. If you’re eating a pickle wrap, you must be camping. It takes the burden off of meal-planning lunches everyday. Lunch = pickle wraps. And what’s a pickle wrap? A tortilla with cream cheese, a couple slices of lunch meat (roast beef or turkey or ham), and a pickle slice. BOOM. Portable, delicious, and super fast to make. Add some fruit and a juice box and you have yourself a meal.
  3. cots – our family happily slept on sleeping pads for years until I was pregnant with Abby and just couldn’t get off the ground anymore. Now, the kids sleep in bunk cots (yes) and Curt and I each have our own. The cots have kept our tent sooooo much cleaner now that everything is up off the floor. Our clothes boxes (regular ol’ rubbermaid boxes for each person0 slide under the cots easily to leave lots of space in the center for changing clothes, dance parties, and time-outs.
  4. really decent food – Y’all. We eat on real plates with real silverware. We don’t eat baked beans from a can and hot dogs. Well, the kids do, but only because they choose to. Our meals are fantastic. We eat well because I plan easy meals with real ingredients and I don’t make shortcuts. This means we take trips to the local grocery store for ice updates and eggs or milk as needed… even if that means every day. Tacos and fajitas have sour cream and fresh salsa. Spaghetti includes garlic bread and corn on the cob. IT CAN BE DONE and it doesn’t have to be hard. Promise.
  5. Lighten up. I have to tell myself this 4 times every day.


[we only played this game one time]

But what about the kids, you say. Yes. The kids. Basically, you have 2 options when there are Little involved: keep your home schedule (afternoon naps, meal times) or push the limit (no naps) and stretch it to an early bed time. We’ve done both depending on the child/ren involved. There is no point in pushing it to the limit every day… part of camping is about relaxing and being flexible. Sometimes, that means hanging out in the campground while Abby sleeps and the other kids decorate the parking spot with sidewalk chalk. Seriously changing up the schedule for kids affects the whole family. Try to keep things like eating times and sleeping times as normal as possible.

Sleeping? Right. Bring the pack and play. Yes. Put it right in your tent, and pack a lightweight king-sized comforter to secure over the top. It get dark later and light earlier when you’re sleeping in canvas walls. The cover will let your Little keep to their 8pm bedtime while you sit around the campfire a little longer.

Kids don’t care where you go. The location is totally for the adults. All kids want is dirt and water. If you can find a stream or lake or ocean to play in daily, a hammock to swing in, and ice cream within walking distance… it’s a win for the kids.

This Memorial Day Weekend, we’re headed right down the road and there will be FRIENDS! Friends with KIDS! Other families camping at the same time! We’ve never been able to do this since we’ve had kids other than within the family. So. WE’RE EXCITED. Gideon has been packed for a week. I still have ALL of my stuff left to do… because I do it at the last  minute. Because I need my toothbrush until we leave. Because I like to put my marriage in jeopardy every single chance I get.

What’s stopping you from getting out into the woods?

I bet I can talk you out of it.

Other camping posts:

Do you camp?

Gearing up!

What’s cookin’?


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

7 responses to “Shall we?

  • Jen

    The biggest thing keeping me from camping is that I once made the mistake of GOING. CAMPING. Oh my lordy, never again! We were living in GR at the time. I had FOUR children ages, 7, 4, 2, and 8 months (still nursing 4 times a day and taking 2 naps). We camped at Pentwater with friends for TEN (yesyoureadthatright) TEN days in early June. We FROZE. That was almost 15 years ago. I still have not recovered. Some people are just not meant for the out of doors. I, for good or for bad, am one of them. Have a great weekend!

  • Jess Newland

    Come to colorado and camp in the mountains with us! 🙂

  • Mandi Watts

    You make it sound so doable…and fun! 🙂 I love that you guys love camping! I hope you have a wonderful trip and a very happy Memorial Day!

  • Aunt Regina

    Oh… Kate…. We love to camp…. And yes ours is a little different… Since we are in a motorhome… But the food and fire are the same… No short cuts there…as I type Uncle Gene is driving us to Southern MO. Jimmy Bird included.. We will canoe, build fire and have a shrimp boil on the open fire… As well as pie irons for our famous hobo pies….oh yes.. Don’t be surprised if you hear we might be coming to Michigan…. Tim Allen’s commercials make me want to come there…. Happy Camping…

  • Anna

    Some of the best memories of my childhood are of us camping as a family. There are multiple stories that begin with “Do you remember that time we were camping and (Stephen nearly got run over, we saw a bear, the rolled in cow manure).” Good times!

    I wish I could go with you!!

  • Marcia

    One of the best times with my kids was the first time we took them camping at ages 2, 2 and 4. We went to Land O’Lakes in IN, where we met my sister and her family. Husband and kids ages 3,5 and 7. It was a great time . We went canoeing, played in the sand and on the playground. We did nature crafts. Had fires with marshmellows, the kids all spotted raccoons in trees with their headlamps and flashlights. I still have the plaster molds of the kids hands and toes with stone and pinecone decorations printed in that we made on the beach.
    And then it rained. Hard. So the kids had a blast hill slidding in the mud and dancing in the rain. It was great. I would do it again tomorrow if I could!

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