By Emsie Martin
To go camping with your kids guarantees unforgettable memories or perhaps it is one giant nightmare, but it can be done.
On www.lekkerkampplekke.co.za I this week came across these tips for a successful camping excursion with your little one.
- Decide where you want to go and if it is a child-friendly environment.
- Are there family bathrooms?
- Is there a play area for kids and is it in a good condition?
- How far are the swimming pools from the camp site, and are they fenced?
- How long will you be camping?
- If this is your first camping session with kids, rather consider a test run during a weekend before you kick off with a one- or two-weeks holiday.
Tent or caravan?
- A caravan is ideal for young kids as you have all the amenities close at hand and a lot of space. In addition, you can finish your packing before you leave, so that you just need to pitch tent when you arrive. However, this is an expensive option and you have to have a vehicle to tow the caravan.
- Tents are less comfortable, but more adventurous.
What kind of tent:
- Canvas tents are durable, but expensive.
- Nylon tents are cheaper and light, but not as durable.
- Dome tents are light, small to transport, wind resistant and quick and easy to pitch. (It’s a bonus when you arrive at the camp site with travel-weary toddlers.)
- House tents are wonderfully spacious, but a drama to get them standing – especially if you don’t know what you are doing and it takes up a lot of space in your baggage.
- How many people have to sleep in it?
- How often will you go camping and for how long?
- What can you afford?
- First pitch your tent at home so that you can see how easy it is and if everything is there. You don’t want to spend hours struggling to get it standing while your kids are complaining because they are hungry.
Tip: Have an entire test camping weekend in your backyard. Your kids will love it. Don’t buy everything in one fell swoop. Camp with borrowed stuff and see what you really need.
Tip: After each camping session, make a list of items that you missed and need to take along next time.
- A tent/caravan.
- A rubber hammer to pound in the tent pegs.
- Enough sleeping bags or bedding.
- A comfortable mattress (inflatable or foam rubber) or camp bed for everyone.
- Lights (consider LED camp lanterns and give each kid his own small torch).
- A long, thick electric cable (the power boxes are always a long way off and some have special plugs).
- Your kettle and barbeque dish.
- A basin and bucket (for washing dishes, water and sundries).
- Black bags (they have hundreds of uses).
- A broom and dust pan (easily forgotten).
- A small fold-up table.
- Comfortable folding chairs.
- Ground canvas (if your tent doesn’t have one or for a front stoep).
- A small fridge or cooler bags with lots of ice (wrap ice in tinfoil, it lasts longer).
- A fully equipped first-aid kit.
- Clothes (provide for all weather conditions).
- Sunscreen, swimming costumes, bracelets, hats.
- Your camera or video camera.
- Extra batteries for torches.
- Grill, matches, fire-lighters and wood.
- Bath plugs and toilet paper.
Tip: If you go camping regularly, equip yourself with a crate in which you can keep all your camping gear so that before you leave you can just quickly check your stock and load it.
Camping with a baby
- Camping with small babies is not so difficult at all.
- Breastfeeding is best when you are camping, but bottle-feeding is also not so difficult.
- Invest in a thermos flask or two to keep water hot for bottles and get a milk powder container in which you can measure off feedings beforehand.
- If you don’t have electricity, use Sterilon or Milton to sterilise your baby’s bottles in a bucket.
- Purity is a winner when you are camping.
- A camp cot is a great space for sleeping and a safe playing area. If baby does not sleep in a camp cot at home, let him sleep in it a few days before you go camping so that he gets used to it.
- Pack a mosquito net for baby (it also helps during the day to keep away annoying little bugs) and take along citronella mosquito repellent.
- A pram is a must, especially if baby has trouble sleeping.
- If possible, don’t go camping when baby is ill. No-one will enjoy it.
- Take along your Kango carrier bag for your little one, or invest in a backpack carrier for your older baby.
Be assured that things will go wrong. You will forget stuff at home. Make the best of it.
- It’s always a good idea to work out a basic menu and pack everything that will be required.
- Braai is always a good option. Consider sosaties or cocktail sausages which you can braai on the spit.
- A gas fryer can help you alternate the menu with other food.
- Tinfoil is a winner: You can wrap butternuts, mealies, potatoes and other vegetables in it and roast them on the hot coals.
- Rusks, instant porridge, Smash, 2-minute noodles and eggs work well if you have to fill hungry tummies quickly.
- Keep a variety of quick snacks handy that you can give when your child is hungry and becomes difficult. Snacks can include cocktail sausages, cheese wedges, fresh fruit snacks and dried fruit such as raisins and fruit rolls.
- Potjiekos is always a winner.
- Don’t forget the marshmallows.
The bottom line of a good experience is to relax and just breathe.