Camping… with kids

Camping – a source of much divide amongst parents. Well, amongst people in general, really. It seems you’re either for camping or completely against it and, once you’re for it, you open up a whole new world. 

A whole lot of prep, a whole lot of packing. A 2.5-hour drive, 1-hour setup for 3 days, and 2 nights of stargazing and silence around a campfire. Chilly mornings sipping coffee before the world wakes up while there is condensation escaping you with every breath. Kids roaming free – perhaps the source of the most joy and fear when camping with kids – long walks, watching out for Llamas and other great farm folk, and wine… around a fire, once the kids pass out from all that play and fresh air. 

We’re fresh off the back of a trip to Kilkivan Bush Camp, where these Mama Llama’s took a walk and found an actual Llama friend!!!! So, we thought we’d make a list of things that genuinely change the whole camping experience, if not just for us to refer back to when we pack up for the next trip. 

Three mama llamas… met a llama!

Let’s roll through them in the order that you might need them. 

First things first, packing for camping. 

Aim to pack your key camping equipment into stackable plastic boxes that will last. We go for clear ones, which you can get from Bunnings, Office Works, or Kmart, so we can quickly locate biccies in the morning to have with tea.

Ziplock or reusable food bags, foil & storage containers are a great thing to pack. Another option is to prep some of your ingredients like onions. Chop them up and put them in a container you can use afterward for leftovers.

Don’t forget something that you can use to start a fire if you’re planning on cooking or warming up with one – firelighters and matches, people. Go pack them now.

Camping setup

A bit of shade, level ground and a good kitchen area are great, but here’s something handy we’ve learned. Get yourself a low-ish or height-adjustable table that you can use for coffee or playing a sneaky round of Cards Against Humanity after the kids fall asleep. The key use here, though, is for the little ones to do some crafts in the shade while you’re setting up. We love a little helper, but sometimes fewer hands are best when you’re ensuring that your tent is pegged down properly. 

Here’s a great lightweight one: 

TRIWONDER Ultralight Aluminum Folding Camping Table Collapsible Portable Roll-Up for Outdoor, Camping, Picnic, BBQ, Beach, Fishing (Silver – S (15.55″x 13.78″))

And here are some cool crafts from Kmart.

Bedtime (for the kids)

As much as it may be flicked on and off and on and off in the dark, if your kids are a little scared of the dark, a headlamp next to their bed is something to consider. Especially if it gives them a bit more confidence so you can sneak out and enjoy the stars before your bedtime. 

Here’s a great pack of two:

GearLight LED Headlamp Flashlight S500 [2 PACK] – Running, Camping, and Outdoors Headlamps – Best Head Lamp with Red Safety Light for Kids and Adults

Hot tip: Glow sticks are a whole lot of fun at night and another way to keep track of your small human in the dark around the campsite. Here’s a good party pack!

144 PCs Glow Sticks Bulk for Glowstick Party Favors, Colorful Neon Glow in The Dark Necklace & Bracelet Supplies, Birthday Christmas Halloween Football Party Disco Supplies, Camping Accessories

Early mornings while camping

Let’s be honest, there is such a thing as too early. If you, or someone smaller, wake up in the dark needing the toilet, having a portaloo of your own may come in handy. Similarly, if you’re heading somewhere a bit more remote and don’t intend on digging holes in the sand, get yourself a toilet

You’ll also want to get some green additive to keep things sanitary and odours contained. 

Here’s a good option in tablet form.

And bottle form.

And a handy bag for your toilet, for when you need to cart it around to an approved point of emptying.

Here’s another hot tip – Ugg-type boots are amazing, but a hint of condensation and they’ll start getting soggy. 

We recommend gumboots. A big win for every parent and child alike, in any area – sand, grass, heat or cold.

Mealtimes

Look, the fun of camping might not carry through to bedtime so, hold onto your seats. We’re about to share the ultimate camping food hack that helps almost any meal when there are little people with a big disinterest in the meals planned…

Garlic bread. 

Easy to cook and most kids are a fan. 

Then, for you, save up for a camping fridge. As a novice, we just had an esky which, by the end of the trip, was always soggy and a bit gross, regardless of whether the ice was in a separate esky. Clean, cool, and well preserved so you can confidently reach in knowing everything is preserved and not a bit icky. 

Here are some other great mealtime must-haves:

  • Marshmallows – the hunt for long sticks makes for a bit of fun
  • A one-pot pasta dish – less washing up and a quick crowd-pleaser. Basil pesto, a bit of cheese. Yum!
  • Paper plates – again… less washing up, fuel for the fire, and lightweight. 

Great camping tips that seem a little obvious but help:

  • Brace yourself for dirt, bugs, weather changes, and needing to make everything into an adventure.
  • Pack wine so that it is both accessible and unable to break. 
  • Bring layers and, within reason, whatever is going to make you feel confident you can tackle the trip. If it means extra hand sanitiser and bandaids, do it. 
  • Baby powder is great for getting sand off of feet.
  • Brush and pan. Doormat. Groundsheets. Keep the sand out of that tent so you feel a little clean. 
  • Something found somewhere online – eat better than you do at home. Plan something you’re really looking forward to eating or cooking to make it a bit of an event. The temptation to just eat sauso’s in bread for a few days is real, but a fruit platter or something moderately healthy like a salad for the BBQ and some carrots for snack time will go a long way to making everyone come back feeling refreshed and not too sluggish. This is coming from an epic chip monster. 

And finally, whilst this may just be the voice of a serious camping rookie, remember that it gets better and better the more you go. Setup gets faster, you refine your list of must-haves, you pack better drink options, and come up with far better games for the kids. 

Have any camping hacks we need to know about, or must-visit spots? Contact us!

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