I don't like doing anything outside of my own home without a TON of planning. I m not someone that can just pick up ad go on a spontaneous vacation. I have to plan the crap outta it, Know exactly whats there, what to take, all that jazz.
Camping with kids is difficult. So, I plan the crap outta it. That's how I keep myself sane and make sure that we have everything we could possible need all neat and organized and there when we need it. not at home or the store.
Things to think about when picking a campsite with little kids, How close is the bathroom and water faucet? I am not walking 2 miles 5 times a day to take a 4 year old to pee. So within sight is the best for me :)
What all do I do and take?
Food: we are going Saturday morning through Monday evening. So, that's breakfast for 2 days, lunch for 3 and supper for 2, plus snacks. Simple breakfast: poptarts(we eat them cold anyways) and bagels and cream cheese. Lunch: sandwiches(this stuff I take with, premade sandwiches are mushy and gross) and hot dogs with chips and cheese crackers. supper: Here's the difficult part. Stuff that can be easily cooked on a campfire that will taste good and isn't expensive. So, Hamburgers, potatoes and corn and Chicken, pasta salad and carrots. I prepare everything that I can before hand. Marinade the chicken and wrap in foil then freeze. that way it is ready to just throw on the grill. and it stays cold better. Make hamburger patties(and freeze with freezer paper in between). Chop potatoes, onions, and peppers add a little butter and salt and pepper, put in foil packets, then put in baggies so they are ready to throw on the fire. Snacks are the easy part. Cheese crackers and chips. fresh fruits and veggies. I don't know exactly what yet but I'll grab a couple things. And S'mores. Other food items to take: Ketchup, butter, salt and pepper, Ranch, cheese, sliced tomatoes and onions, Drinks, I make a gallon of koolaid and freeze it in a milk jug, and a gallon of water frozen in a milk jug, a case of soda and half a gallon of milk that has been frozen. Oh, and dog food.
ok, that sounds like enough food. Supplies: tent, air mattress, pillows and blankets (we still don't have sleeping bags) flash light and lanterns, paper towels and baby wipes, table cloth, plates and silverware and a knife(we use real ones that I got at the thrift store, not paper ones, they work better) dish soap. I have a big bucket that I put the plates and stuff in to carry it and then I use it to wash the stuff out at the campsite. Some times we take tiki torches. clothes for 4 days since it will be a 2 1/2 day trip. Jackets, long pants and tennis shoes. Its always colder at night and I have whiny and messy kids. bug spray, Yard mosquito spray!! sunblock, soap, shampoo, towels washcloths. toothpaste and brushes. Any fishing or swimming stuff needed. We aren't swimming this time but we probably will be fishing. I leave all that stuff up to hubby though. Games, cards and things to play. The kids will pack a little bag of their favorite toys to play with. Bikes if they fit. Dog kennel and chain and leash. Firewood, already cut, ready to go, in a large tote, kindeling and news paper. Matches. Garbage bags. Firstaid kit!! A car charger for your cell phone. Glow sticks(to keep track of children in the dark more easily) A large old metal pot. A roll of duct tape. Dog bowls. hmmm....I'm sure I forgot something....
Packing is the important part. All the supplies should fit in one 18 gallon rubbermaid tote(with the exception f tent pillows and blankets. I put them into plastic bags to keep them organized and separate. And If I organize it when we get back home it's all already to go next time. nonperishable food I put in box. one big cooler and one little cooler. big one is for food little one for drinks. the frozen koolaid and water go one in each, to help keep everything cold.
*Know how to set up your tent before you go!! Its difficult even when you do know how so take it out in the yard and get an idea of where everything goes. This will save a ton of headache when you get there and have toddlers "helping" especially if you are missing pieces. Even brand new tents occasionally come with pieces missing(I've had this happen)
*Prepare food ahead of time. The more you have done at home in your cumfy kitchen with all the assecories, the less you have to do in the boiling sun on a picnic table.
*If you cook using a pan in a fire- cover the bottom with a film of dishsoap, much much easier to clean afterward!!
*plan, or at least have an idea of activities. You are going to have a boring couple of days if you forgot all the games and toys an there is nowhere to hike or a playground.
*Know how to start a campfire!
*keep your firewood and matches dry. that's why we keep it in a tote. also, shower curtains make great cheap tarps, you can buy them at the dollar tree. and old pill bottles are great water proof match holders.
*Make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave and bring a car charger along. there is not electricity in all campsites.
*bring a backpack. if you decide to go hiking it is helpful to have snacks, first aid kit, phone drinks all within reach and not back at the campsite.
*always take extra batteries.
*clip and file puppy's nails before going, it'll keep him from puncturing the bottom of the tent.
*fill old soda bottles with water and juice and freeze, these are easy to throw in the backpack and carry with.
*go over camping rules multiple times with the kids before you leave and when you get there. Dont want burned little hands because they didn't know the fire was hot.