Wisdom gained from our camping trip


We  generally like fresh air, sunshine, love outdoors, park and nature. So it is natural that we should try out camping We have done camping occasionally, but not enough to be called expert by any means. R and P love outdoors and nature like most kids and we thought we should be brave enough to try camping with 2 kids, now that P is over 1 year! Here is our wisdom and lessons learned from our recent camping trip in early August.

After having kids, we thought to try out camping about an hour drive from where we live, close enough to drive back home just in case of kids emergency. We thought one night was good enough to start with with 2 little ones. It was long overhaul for just one day and we learned a few things or two that we had not thought of. I thought of sharing our humorous experience and lesson here; If you are novice like me, you will learn and if you are expert campers, you already know this and give me lot of tips to make our national lampoon’s type camping to better one. Either case, this will provide you with some entertainment and laugh.

You can not be minimalist camper with family.

You will have to carry everything you need with you including kitchen sink plus more. I am sure some single guy will prove me wrong here, by saying they can camp with just one backpack. I will tell them to wait until they are married with kids and then tell me how much stuff those little ones seem to be need.

As a family with 2 kids, we need so many things, yes I said NEED these stuff. Those of you with kids will know, we parents will do anything, even give kid a candy if that mean having 10 minutes to drink tea in peace.

Here are some of the break down of typical stuff a family with kids need/want to take;

  1. Tent large enough to fit family plus all crap that we bring
  2. Bedding, pillows, blankets, jackets
  3. Tarps for undercover, door mat to keep dirt away from tent (even though it will not work)
  4. Clean and fresh water for cooking, drinking (Take more then you think you need)
  5. Milk/soy milk, Tea/coffee/sugar, salt, spices, fruits, vegetables, knife, cutting board,
  6. Can opener, Serving and Stirring Utensils, plates, cups, spoons, fork etc, Pots, Pans
  7. Cleaning liquid soap, washing soap, shampoo, towels, clothes, extra towels, swim suit
  8. Extra clothes, hiking shoes, regular slipper, torch, lantern, extra batteries
  9. Snacks, ice, other cooking supply, cooler1 and cooler 2
  10. Insect and mosquito cream, camera, video, extra batteries, radio,CD  player
  11. books, fire logs, fire starter, camping folding chair, folding table,
  12. extra table to keep huge food supply you brought with you for 10 people, even though you are only 4 people.
  13. Extra papers, drawing supply to draw wild life which you will not get a chance to touch because your 1 year old is running around keeping you too busy to even eat.
  14. Bring cell phone, laptop just in case you want to check on your blog comment, which no one cares to read during weekend anyways.
  15. Toys, stuffed bears and loveys for kids as they will not sleep without it.
  16. Kids diapers, back up stuff for kids plan A through back up stuff to plan F.
  17. You need a huge extra caravan to fit it all.
  18. You need a day to pack it all and one day to unpack it all.
  19. Extra cash, just in case you forgot to pack something important
  20. ATM card just in case you forgot to pack enough cash
  21. Little bit sanity (which you find only after coming home for 4 days)

After you come back from your camping your own house/apartment will look luxury hotel.

  1. After using those coin shower that gives you 2 minutes of extra hot water for 25 cents, you will know luxury when you use your own hot water in your bathroom and do not have to worry about time running out.
  2. You bathroom is not wet all over and you can change your and your kids clothes without getting them wet.
  3. You will feel your bathroom is 5 star hotel after using camping toilets
  4. You do not need to wait in line at morning rush, you can be king or queen
  5. You do not need to worry about insect biting you inside your home
  6. You actually have a plenty supply of water whenever you need, not worrying about water or ice running out
  7. You do not need to worry about batteries running out and actually enjoy listening to music without time limit
  8. You are not living off suitcases/bags to find stuff
  9. You do not need to clean and put away things right away, you can let dishes sit in sink for hour or two.
  10. you will not to dress up on layers clothes as temperature changes outside.

Surprising things that I would have never guessed before camping;

  1. You will need a jackets and fire to warm you at night, in middle of hot summer.
  2. We do not know how to protect and survive if bear is outside the tent, no bear are not cute as teddy bears always.
  3. You will need more water and ice supply than you can imagine
  4. Without city lights, and night light, how dark it could be at night, pitch black.
  5. Your tent walls are not thick enough, so you will get to hear all sounds, such as cricket, animals (if any), someone walking by (night restroom use) or next tent snoring, your own kids crying and waking others in near by area, it is all fun and embarrassing sort of way.

Final summary:

When you come back and takes you whole day to unpack and 2 days more to recharge, you will swear you will never go camping again. Then you see all these wonderful pictures and friends call you and you think why not? It was not so bad. We can improve and have fun. So the vicious circle of camping adventure starts again.

Lesson here is that do not worry about learning any wisdom from here, just go out and have fun, camping, cabin, hotels, motels, vacations or staycations. Summer is meant to be enjoyed, so we are going to go again. Only this time we are prepared to know that no one should sleep close to our tent, until little P learns to sleep through the night or we have a silencer on our tent.

Did you enjoy this story? This is real account of our recent camping and we have gained no wisdom what so ever. We are planning to do it again!

Your Turn: How is your camping experience?

Image Source: Johnson outdoors

About Author: This post is written by Preeti who writes under name of Zengirl on Heart and Mind Blog. She writes articles about self improvement, stress free and slow living and believes in slow blogging.

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I am stay at home with 2 kids, married to my best friend zenguy. I am in to simplifying, slow and sustainable living, I am frugal, love reading, writing and watching romantic movies. I believe in family, friendship and community.

45 comments

  1. rob white says:

    Hi Preeti,
    Ha, ha. Yes sometimes we don’t need to look for profound lessons and enlightenment in everything we do. Over analysis will drive us nut. The purpose of life is joy and freedom and you seemed to have achieved this marvelously. I’m sure you will all have great memories years to come… that alone is worth the adventure. Thanks for sharing…this was fun to read

  2. Radhika says:

    Loved it. We have never done camping before as TH things that it is insane to stay in those camping grounds. On the other hand I would love to experience this before I judge. I am gonna show this post to my husband so that I can convince him. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us

  3. TheSimplePoppy says:

    Ha, we aren’t brave enough to go camping with two little kids, especially after a few trips we made that weren’t even camping trips were kind of terrible. And you DO need to pack virtually everything, which is kind of exhausting. But, I still would like to go camping one day, maybe when they are a little older!

  4. taurian says:

    Yeah preeti, Camping is the most excellent way to hook up and bond with your family. If a hectic work schedule is greeting you with little moment for your family members, a weekend camping trip is the perfect answer. With no TV, PC and cell phones to hand out as distraction, activities such as setting up camping, fishing and food preparation will have everybody running and spending quality time together. Add to these fun activities such as camping games and bonfires, and everyone will have a blast.

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  6. Eric | Eden Journal says:

    Interesting synchronicity. I’ve been looking at our big shelving unit full of camping gear all week. We usually camp very heavy (meaning we bring lots of stuff.) We have a huge 15×15 tent, several bins full of cooking stuff and camping supplies, two big air mattresses, a fold out picnic table, heaters and fans (we usually camp near electricity,) and random other camping supplies.

    We usually load the back of our pickup truck full of all this camping gear. Lately, we’ve been driving the Jeep camping instead of the truck, and that leaves only half a back seat for camping supplies. Because of the smaller space, I’m considering shedding some of that camping weight, and just bringing less stuff. I’m still working through some of the details, but I’m shooting for less. I’ll let you know how it works out. :)

  7. ZenGirl says:

    Rob,

    This was tongue in cheek post, basic wisdom is we are going camping again with even low exceptions and come back to our lavish small house! We do love outdoors and fresh air does wonder even if we have to lug whole house around, it is worth it! I am glad you enjoyed it, that makes my day! Thank you.

  8. ZenGirl says:

    Radhika,

    You should go camping it is fun! It is great to be outdoor in to the nature. I am sure your husband will love it once he tries it. I am not sure my post is very convincing but sure it humorous! Let me know if you do try out camping experience! I love to hear about it.

  9. ZenGirl says:

    Simple Poppy,

    Welcome. Yes, we also found out that going out with 5 yr and 1 yr old was a huge challenge but it sure was worth it, even though my 1 year did not sleep well most night and cried throughout! When we came back, we decided to not camp again until they are older but we have not learned much as we are going again before summer officially ends, but this time with no expectations. Let’ s see how it goes.

  10. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    Yes, there is something about being in nature without any technology to interfere, we can really connect and bond with friends, family and nature around us. It was almost zen like experience, if it weren’t for little P keeping us busy and R asking us million questions about animals that we had no clue about! :-) Great experience nonetheless! Everyone should camp once!

  11. ZenGirl says:

    Eric,

    I hear you about the camping stuff, we are novice campers but we have tons of stuff! We need it all to cook, live and be! Maybe need is not the right word, we want many stuff! With 2 little ones, we seemed be “needing” a lot! :-) It was fun though that is why we may go again with friends before summer is officially over!

    I really admire minimalist campers who can camp for a week in one backpack. I am opposite, I need Van full of stuff for one day camping, at least for now. I hope it changes soon. I recently got rid of lot of stuff in house and trying to simplify my life slowly in past 6 years but new stuff keeps coming in form of gifts and life!

  12. ZenGirl says:

    Emma,

    I am glad the post made you giggle. Now, that experience is done, I can laugh with you on it! It is so true, my same house felt like a lavish hotel after camping! Now I know if someone is feeling dis-content, they should go camping, nature has its wonderful effects! Thanks for stopping by, as always.

  13. taurian says:

    Yes Preeti, it is very difficult for us to answer to describe about the animals and creature which we don’t know abt !

    However that’s real fun to create your own stories for that moment , later you can go back home google it then you can explain them :)

    good posts ! and looking forward to see many more :)

  14. Armen Shirvanian says:

    Hi Preeti.

    I like that you discuss the realities of camping and what you need to know about it that you wouldn’t think of beforehand. Pitch black is quite different from night black in a city.

    When I read your part about how not enough water is taken, I pictured about 4 empty water bottles in a tent and 4 people inside thinking that 4 water bottles was not enough.

    Being in nature makes us better appreciate not being in nature, and also opens up more to the world as it is, untouched by us(sort of).

  15. Jean Sarauer says:

    This brought back so many memories. I haven’t been camping in a zillion years, but I used to go a lot. The reason I quit was because of all the prep and packing for the family. And then the unpacking and washing things up. It was great fun though around the campfire and just being away from it all. Last night here at home I sat under the stars for a long time–that’s about as close to camping as I’m likely to get these days :)

  16. ZenGirl says:

    Belinda,

    I knew that parents of little ones will understand the humor and irony of the situation. Littlest kids seemed to needing so much stuff! Have you gone camping with your kids?

  17. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    I thought I knew a lot, until my son started asking me questions…Now I know I do not know much, so I say, let’s find out together and I am learning a lot with him :-) Yes, we create stories and check to see if we were right, it is fun in its own way! Thanks for your input.

  18. ZenGirl says:

    Armen,

    Yes, pitch black is really black in the woods! I would have not imagined it before, sometimes I appreciate all modern amenity!

    Nature during the day is beautiful, so are trees and most wild life, if you do not bother them, most will not bother us, (So far it has worked for us).

    About water, we had 10 gallons or so for 2 day and 1 night and we barely made it as we used it for brushing, cooking, making tea and drinking! 4 bottles would have been finished in no time. Have you gone camping?

  19. ZenGirl says:

    Jean,

    I thought you might be a nature girl! Yes, camping packing and unpacking can be daunting, it took us one day to unpack and 3 day to pack, all for one nighter camping! Before kids, camping was still work but right now it little bit more. Best part is to be in nature, away from all technology and phones, it is kind of nice to get a break once in a while. Sitting under stars is always has its charm of camping without the work, so good for you!

  20. ZenGirl says:

    Betsy,

    I am glad you enjoyed it. We can surely laugh about it now that is done. I am not sure how the next camping will be! Do you and bargain guy camp?

  21. Sibyl - alternaview says:

    Preeti: I can’t say that I have ever been this brave or ambitious to actually go on a camping trip. I am actually somewhat intimidated after reading your list :) but I think as you said, in the end, the fun of the experience probably makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for sharing your camping knowledge.

  22. Marko says:

    Great story :) Camping would not be camping without some challenges. ;) I’m glad you’ve all had that experience, it’s nice that you and your husband done that for your children…

  23. Dia says:

    Oh Preeti, I haven’t gone on a camping trip for a very long time. Your post brought back so many memories. I agree that it is intimidating at night as you never know what or who will show up. After the camping trip is done and you start looking at the photos though, you would want to go again :) Thanks for sharing

  24. taurian says:

    you are welcome preethi!!! I found this web page when I was searching about happyhearthappymind at wordpress.

    and I found your page. Now I found this post “25 tips to make your marriage rock”! and it worth reading !

    Looking for more posts :)

  25. Andrea DeBell - britetalk says:

    I’m originally more of a city girl but lately I’ve being lured by the seductive powers of camping. The only thing that still freaks me out is using the out house. Thanks for the detailed list. Camping with kids can be quite challenging as well and enjoyable. Loving blessings!

  26. Marion Anderson says:

    Preeti

    Well done. I was never brave enough to take small children camping. In fact I have never been camping. I get the impression that it might be a very good way of remembering how to appreciate what you have at home.

    Thank you for a lovely post

  27. Farnoosh says:

    Oh Preeti, too funny – I have NEVER been camping and I don’t think you could pay me enough to go camping. I prefer the 5-star hotels (and I don’t mean just my own sanctuary) – The insects bite me when I am just outside walking and the idea of using those toilets and showers, gosh you are brave! I can see how much planning it took with the kids but I bet they loved it and the memories you created makes it so worthwhile. So nice of you to share your wisdom – and your ever-present sense of humor!

  28. Susie Michelle says:

    Your post made me smile. I can so relate. My friend, who has very young children, says she doesn’t like camping because it’s like her normal everyday job – only in the dirt and with no plumbing. That’s about right!

    Still, we camped a lot this summer with our three kids. And there is NOTHING like those conversations with your spouse and your kids once the sun goes down – when all you can see are each other’s faces, illuminated by the campfire. It’s like we all slow down and step back in time and we are together, in the dark.

    I love it. It makes the three days of preparation/cleaning well worth it!

  29. ZenGirl says:

    Sibyl,

    Camping is fun just for being in nature and out of noises of day to day life. It is we as people have made it, complex. I am sure it would get easier without young kids in tow. Try it for one night or stay in cabin! If not, you can always enjoy nature for a few hours outing too. Getting out in sun shine is always helps!

  30. ZenGirl says:

    Marko,

    Kids generally loves outdoor, nature and sunshine and it was sure fun for them and us, hopefully we can learn to take less stuff next time around! Nothing is life is without challenge, so why camping should be any different! Have you gone camping?

  31. ZenGirl says:

    Dia,

    We are doing many things we would not have done, if it is not for the kids, some I am glad for. Yes, looking back at the memories always brings happy smiles even in not so fun situation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  32. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    I am glad you found this blog and liked a few older post! I am happy that you read and also left comments. Thank you. I hope 25 tips to make your marriage rocks, rocks your marriage too! :-)

  33. ZenGirl says:

    Andrea,

    Do not let my post scare you out of camping, it is not 5 star hotel but not bad experience compared to what you do when you travel during day time site seeing places.

    Anything can be challenging when I am dealing with 2 small kids and most fun adventure too!

  34. ZenGirl says:

    Marion,

    I do not blame you for not traveling and camping with young kids. I have traveled with R to various states within US and other countries when he was young, have not done so much with P, while I agree traveling and camping with little kids is not the easiest but it can bring lot of happy memories when we look back. But I also do like my laid back days at home with kids too. :-)

  35. ZenGirl says:

    Vaishali,

    I think you and Desi would love it. Some of the places and park are dog friendly too so you can enjoy it all together. If you go, let me know how it went!

  36. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    I can imagine and understand where you coming from. 5 star hotels sure has more glamor and charm. However, having done with both nature camping and 5 star hotels it is like comparing oranges and apples. Even if you do not do camping, enjoying out in nature while you are staying in hotel could bring same joy without the extra fuss!

    I am glad you enjoy the humor and irony of the whole situation, after finishing the trip, we did too, not during!

  37. ZenGirl says:

    Susie,

    Welcome and thanks for the first comment! Doing anything with little ones can be hard and challenging, at least that is what I feel but still it can be adventure in itself. Zenguy is good father and husband so having him around helps my outing and day much bearable!

    You are brave to camp with 3 kids, I agree when we are out there, we connect as a family as there is no technology to interrupt us bonding. So true. I would hear any tips or suggestions to make camping more fun! Let me know, as we are planning again next weekend.

  38. Manu says:

    Hi Preeti,
    Very nice write up about your experience. I landed on this blog when I was searching for tips about camping. I was totally hooked on to your blog. I have a few questions and was wondering if you would be kind enough to answer those.
    I too live in the bay area and have kids exactly as old as yours :) Did you find it difficult to camp out with them since the weather here these days is unpredictable? I read your post but was there anything that i need to be aware of specific to their age that I need to keep in mind?

    Where did you go camping? I am looking at Mt Shasta. Would it be a stretch? Where did you buy your tents? I do not want to spend too much on tents and accessories and would like something frugal and nothing fancy. Finally, what did you cook for dinner and lunch for yourself and the kids? :)
    sorry too many questions, but I thought you will be my best help since your family /area of home is almost similar to mine. :)

    Have a wonderful day and keep smiling. :)
    Manu

  39. ZenGirl says:

    Manu,

    Welcome! wow, I am not sure I am right person to give any answers as our camping was far from success but we had fun. Here are some suggestions and answers that you asked.

    Yes, camping was difficult and unpredictable with kids as well. Having layered clothing, jackets helped. Try to camp close to your place, maybe an hour or so away, so in case you can come back. Try one night camping only in the beginning, until you and kids gets hang of the camping. Mt. Shasta might be too far, depending where you live. Try Uvas Canyon, Mount Maddona, New Brighten State Beach for close by camping experience.

    I cooked easy meals such pasta, rice, daal, soup, veggies bbq and easy snacks. It will depend on what you and your kids would like to eat. I bought some items from stores and other items we borrowed, we bought a large tent because we need more space. Let me know how your camping experience goes! Good luck.

  40. Manu says:

    Thank you for the response Preeti. Whatever you said helps too. With kids it is always a challenge and any outing is always a hit or miss thing. But I don’t believe in waiting until to have fun until the kids grow up. We would’ve aged by then :) So I am glad you took the step to try it out and experience it atleast once.

    Did you buy your family sized tent online or at a store? Any tips on that, anything to note before buying?

  41. ZenGirl says:

    Manu,

    Yes, do not wait until kids gets older, I agree you should have fun right now, even though it may not turned out always well like our camping, we can always learn. Good for you to feel this way.

    I bought 8 people tent from Walmart and set it up at home first to try it out. It is much larger than what we need but with 5 and 1 yr old, it was great!

    You can buy stuff from walmart, target, camping store or try craigslist, amazon also has great choice for camping things.

    If you can borrow first, borrow some items until you become regular camper to save money.

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