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5 Essential Hacks for Camping with Children

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Camping season approaches, and spending time in the wilderness with your children is a joy but it can be a challenge too. Here are my five essential hacks for making sure the camping experience is a happy one for your family.

1) Bring Lots of Baby Wipes

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If your kids are out of diapers and you don’t think you need baby wipes any more, think again. Baby wipes aren’t just for diaper changes. The cooling, cleansing feel of a baby wipe makes all parts of a camping trip better. We pack three or four containers for each trip. In the morning, use baby wipes to clean faces and hands before breakfast. After breakfast, the tough wipes can clean out pots and pans so the food ends up in your trash bag and not on the ground near your campsite. Swish water in the pans after you’re done and they’re ready for the next meal. During the hot hours of the day, a baby wipe cools and refreshes the skin. At night, baby wipes clean sticky marshmallows off delicate fingers and faces. Which brings me to…

2) Pre-pack Marshmallows to Avoid Tummy Aches

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Toasting marshmallows and eating s’mores is a time-honored camping tradition, but the fun of making those toasty brown cylinders can lead to overeating and tummy aches later on. If you’ve ever had a child vomit during a camping trip, you don’t need me to tell you how bad that is. Avoid the problem by pre-packing marshmallows in baggies. Each child receives their own baggie each night and when it’s empty, they’re done. I reserve the big bag to hand out replacements if a marshmallow takes the Big Dive into the fire. And speaking of fire…

3) Bring a Small Container of Honey for Minor Burns

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Honey is a magical food and a millennia-old medicine for minor burns. The nutrients in natural honey promote healing and stop pain almost instantly. (Honey is not safe for infants under one year). Teaching children to make a fire, tend to it, and cook food over it is valuable camping knowledge, but in the process small burns are inevitable. If you put a jar in your first-aid kit, you can stop the pain of minor burns by applying honey. The tears stop! After a short time the burn can be cleansed and a band-aid applied. A major burn requires medical attention, of course, but the sting from a stray spark can be erased by Pooh Bear’s favorite food. And when we talk about Pooh Bear…

4) Pack a Play Tent

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Children end up bringing all sorts of things into the tent: pine needles, their favorite rocks, dirt, small insects, large pine cones. If you purchase a small two-person tent for the kids to play in, the tent where everyone sleeps can be designated as off-limits during the day. We put spare blankets and pads inside and let the children bring in stuffed animals and books and make their own fort out of the tent. Since we don’t sleep in it, we parents don’t care how messy it gets, and the kids have their own private space to enjoy.

But at last when you’re all together at night sitting around the campfire, there’s something amazing you can do…

5) Skyguide

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The Sky Guide iPhone App might just be the best camping game I’ve ever enjoyed with my family. Skyguide shows you the night sky at your location and gives you pictures of the constellations. Hold it up and everyone can see Ursa Minor or Orion or the gorgeous sprawl of the Milky Way. Once you see the drawing on Sky Guide, the real constellation leaps out at you and the children say “Oooh” and “Aaaah.” (There’s a similar app for android phones called The Night Sky.) The hours spent snuggling with your children and watching the incredible sweep of the stars above your head are full of love. And isn’t that what camping with kids is all about?

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Images courtesy of Shutterstock: Oliveromg, Goodluz, Phil McDonald, Oksix, Zurijetas