I Went Camping with Three Kids and You Can Too: A Non-Camper’s Survival Tips


For the entirety of my life, my idea of camping has been staying in a hotel without a Starbucks in the lobby, so imagine the collective horror of those who know me well when I bought, renovated, and eventually decided to camp in a 1968 Aloha travel trailer.

Hey y’all, meet Eleanor Rigby! (I mean, she’s so cute she completely makes up for the fact that I took three pairs of Ugg boots and four bottles of wine as the majority of my camping gear).

My two best friends and I decided to take a husband, an ex-husband, and our eight combined kids ages 18 months to 15-years-old, to Cherokee, NC this past weekend.

As a non-camper, I was terrified. But guys…IT WAS SO FUN.

I know you’re all waiting with baited breath for my tips and tricks, so here goes (remember, I camped in a camper with full electricity, so I am by no means a tent camping expert — search elsewhere for that intel, dear readers):

1. Bring more than you think you need

I am typically a pretty light packer when it comes to myself and my kids and this ended up being a huge problem for us. Somehow my oldest ended up with no clean shirts for the last day there, and the baby’s diaper leaked all over his only sleeper and set of pack-n-play sheets, so I had to wash them out in the camp bathroom and hope for the best come night time. This comes in handy as far as food and drink too.

2. Go with a large group

We camped in a campground chosen specifically for its Halloween themed activities and did…zero of them. Why? Because our kids were having so much fun making new friends on the basketball court or hanging out with each other that we didn’t want to interrupt anything. I assumed my kids would tell me they were bored at least eleventy billion times, but I never heard that word all weekend long. Having a large group there also helped the parents get breaks. I’m not sure how I would have survived had I not had extra hands to be on baby duty while I cleaned myself and the big kids, made food, etc. Speaking of food…

3. Plan a menu

For weeks ahead of time, my friends and I brainstormed meals and all the items needed to prepare them, and we wrote specific shopping lists for each family. There were a few things forgotten, but overall I was pleasantly surprised at the variation of foods we ate in a “camp” setting.

4. Forget about “normal”

By this I mean no one ate right, went to bed right, got up right, bathed right, brushed their teeth right, or really acted right. As hard as I tried, dental care and basic hygiene were basically in scarce supply all weekend long, and I just had to let my desire to do everything like we would do at home go.

5. WIFI is your friend

Yeah I know I am in the woods and nature and all that jazz, but mama bore me in 1986 for a reason…I’m not a pioneer, people. Really though, we had no cell phone service and hooking up to WIFI was the only way to contact the outside world had we encountered a problem. It was also vital in getting accurate directions via our phones for the drive home. And finally…

6. Wine and marshmallows

Because camping is fun, but hard and kids like to set things on fire then eat them.

I had a blast this weekend and am already planning a trip with the same group in the same place for a Christmas-themed camp weekend and a shorter, local, grown ups-only trip on a kid-free weekend. Camping doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating and I am so glad I finally gave it a shot.


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