Have you gone tent camping? Would you consider it with a family of 6 and a dog? Well, we did it and let me tell you about the experience. Read on, friends.
Two weeks before our scheduled and online booked camping trip (at a campground we had never been), we started prepping for the adventure. When you have as many people in your family as we do, it takes a little bit of prep work. Besides this, we had not camped in 10 years…2 kids and a dog ago.
First, we had to make a list of what we thought we would need on the trip. Little did we know, the list would continue to grow until the day we left for the trip. There was a lot of online shopping as I prefer that to going to the stores these days. Bringing 4 kids into a store is not for the faint at heart. Amazon became my best friend for a couple weeks.
When items we had ordered began to arrive, we started a pile on the livingroom floor. This pile continued to grow and encroach on our living space. When there are 6 people and a dog, you have to have a lot of space. For us, we figured we needed 2 tents. We had a 6 person tent which really only fits 4 comfortably. So, we had to purchase a 4 person tent which then really only sleeps 2 comfortably.
We then needed a kennel for our dog. Her current kennel was very bulky and we knew that would never work. We ordered her a collapsible one that we could easily store between uses and that would be big enough to house her when she is full grown (she is only 6 months old now).
Our campsite would not have electric and there would be shared bathroom and water access so we prepared for that. We needed battery operated lighting, so we ordered bright hanging lanterns and a seemingly life supply of batteries (Hubby jokingly sent a link for 100 pack of batteries along with other things, I thought it serious and ordered them…ha!). Need AA batteries? We have you covered!
As for sleeping, we had three cots we had purchased a few years back from Aldi for a really good price. They have been used several times and work great, however, three will not due for 6 people. Our 2 littlest girls can easily sleep on one cot, this leaves 2 bodies that need a sleeping place. Our second tent, per reviews, could easily sleep a queen air mattress so that is what we went for and purchased. Little did we know, when they said exact fit, they weren’t joking. We had to blow the thing up IN the tent. Could not have gotten it in post inflation.
Now, what are we planning to do while at this campsite? Bike riding. The others we were meeting for the weekend were all bringing bikes per family member…remember we have 6. We were able to get away with only bringing 4 bikes and a bike trailer for the 2 littles to ride in. My 5 year old mentioned more than once that she wished her bike had been brought too. Noted for next time sweet one! Did you know that you CANNOT find a bike carrier for a car that carries more than 4? Our van also had a spoiler so we couldn’t even attach a back strap bike carrier. We had to drive a second vehicle on the trip just to carry the 4 bikes and trailer.
Then, of course, you can’t forget the campfire. We looked ahead and saw that it was going to be chilly weather both day and especially night. We knew we needed warm sleeping bags (We had to order one of those too.) and supplies to start a fire. Since the campground we were going to was in the same state, we were allowed to transport firewood. We had some downed trees at our home and collected some firewood to be used so we loaded up a bin and brought that with us. It was not enough to get us through the entire weekend but it sustained us for a while. Thankfully my husband had a butane torch so we were able to use to fire up the kindling that we brought and collected on site. The fire was a definite necessity.
Not only was the fire good for heat but we were able to cook over that. We made some Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches that were delicious over the fire. Melty, gooey, yummy sandwiches. S’mores are also a definite campsite necessity. My kids don’t feel complete about having a fire until they are able to roast their fat marshmallows over the fire and smoosh them together with Hershey’s chocolate and cinnamon graham crackers. Yes, the cinnamon kind makes the s’more so much better. If you haven’t tried it, it is a must!
We shared a few meals with our friends that were at the same campsite which was nice. Everyone chipped in for supplies and we got to enjoy great company. The kids really enjoyed hanging out with their kids and making new friendships. All except my pre-teen. He got tired of “the little kids” by the last night we were there and just wanted to be off by himself. We gave him this pleasure and didn’t force him to indulge the “little kids”. Being the oldest “kid” in attendance we gave him some grace and let him do his thing. We did similar for our 9 year old who loved the freedom of exploring the campsite and bike riding with his new friends and just checking in with us from time to time. I didn’t realize he enjoyed bike riding so much. You would have thought he was glued to the seat.
There is truly joy in seeing your child really enjoying something that is good for him, connecting with nature. Not only did he enjoy bike riding, he enjoyed looking for unique rocks and other such things with his good friend. Seeing the excitement when he found something “cool” was fantastic.
Whether or not to camp with friends is something to consider. If you do choose to camp with friends, make plans to do your own separate thing. Don’t make each other feel like you have to be together the entire time. Make sure there is the break away time when each family goes and does their own thing then comes together for dinner or even just s’mores before bed. Every family unit may have their own idea of how camping should go. Some that were with us preferred to be on their phones (How they were able to access internet is beyond me, we had no service!), others preferred family bike riding, some walking the trails, others just preferred to sit around the fire. None of those are wrong or have to be done as a full group.
In conclusion, it was a lot of prep work, a lot of purchases and a lot of last minute wondering how we were going to get it all there and not go insane but it was worth it. We enjoyed each other, nature, our friends and being disconnected from the internet for a couple days. We stowed our phones and didn’t even take pictures. We were in each moment and enjoyed the relaxation. I would highly recommend a similar adventure for you and your family. Take some time to disconnect from stress and headache and go off the grid for a couple days. Take some time to be one with nature and to just go with the flow. I hope that my kids will remember this trip and have the desire to go on another. I hope they saw what it could be like to live without being connected to devices and just enjoying time to release brain fog and enjoy the outdoors.
This generation of kids is living with the internet boom, the technology in everything. They didn’t get the joys of the childhood I had that was with no internet and very little technology. They ask me what we did before the internet. I tell them we played outside. We played street hockey, rode bikes, threw mud pies, played in the rain, took walks, explored nature and thanked God for every day the weather was nice enough to do that. When it wasn’t, we were inside coloring, building Lego’s, creating things out of junk around the house, doing crafts, cleaning or cooking. So many things to do besides Fortnite and Minecraft. Get your kids out there, nature is waiting.