Dinner’s done, the fire’s crackling and all of you are resting in camp chairs. All of you except the toddler. Murphy’s Law dictates that your 2-year-old WILL melt down at some point. Before that happens, scoop her onto your lap and show her the stars overhead. Your older two will soon move into the tent to play cards by flashlight and your little one will come around.
Don’t put it off! Go camping with the kids! Spring is the absolute best time to camp as a family since it’s not too hot and not too cold. Go for it.
Book Your Camping Spot
A family’s first camping trip is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming thing. The first time you go will be filled with lessons and thoughts that “I should have done this,” or “I should have done that.” But camping is a learning experience, and one that people have enjoyed for centuries. Give in.
Reserve a campsite at one of Tennessee’s State Parks. Tennessee State Parks has a handy online reservation system for camping, cabins and lodges. Camping rates are standardized according to the facilities available. The standardized rates range from $13 (four people) a night and higher for premium sites. Some Tennessee State Parks have self-registration procedures where you register yourself upon entry to the campground. Rates for self-registration camping may be slightly higher.
Doing it With Kids
• Think “simple.” One or two things a day will suffice. Trying to do too much can easily overwhelm everyone.
• Let the kids explore. It’s all downtime, so enjoy being in nature. Rocks, sticks and dirt suffice and if there’s water, even better. A few toys that are great to have in the camping arsenal are buckets, shovels, Frisbees and balls.
• Relax. Camping with kids almost never goes exactly as planned. Your attitude will rub off on the kids.
• Keep everyone warm at night. No one’s going to enjoy camping if they’re freezing.
• Go for a nature walks. Children can have fun pointing out the different leaves, insects, tracks on the ground, vegetation, etc.
• Use a sling and a pack-n-play for infants. Use a plastic table cloth or drop cloth on the ground as a place for all toys.
• Stuff all of your family’s dirty laundry into one large bag, so you can just toss it in your laundry room when you get home.
• Consider bringing a potty seat for toddlers.
• Pack fun food items, too — (kids love those mini boxes of cereal).