I am a proud #boymom! I have 2 little dudes ages 4.5 and 1.5. My days are filled with WWE matches, poop and fart jokes, and a makeshift American Ninja Warrior course in every room of the house! I consider myself to be generally on the girly-girl side, so all this testosterone took a little getting used to.
However, I have leaned into the lifestyle and actually find having boys to be good for getting me to let loose and have a different kind of fun! And now that we are mostly out of the tiny baby phase of life, that has meant embracing the best boy activity of all: camping.
I’m definitely more of a “glamper” than a camper. I’d rather rent a cabin up North for the weekend than sleep in a tent. But my husband goes on several camping trips a year with his friends and even took our oldest son with him once. I know that getting in touch with nature is basically in little boys’ DNA and if I want to share in these quintessential moments with my family, I had to make peace with a future that includes at least some actual tent camping.
So, we decided that this year would be the year we dove head first into the camping game! As I said, my husband is lightyears more experienced and comfortable with camping than I am, so I don’t feel like we’re actually starting at Ground Zero. However, camping with young kids is also a new experience for him, so we’re committed to figuring this out together.
We’re finding the happy medium between “roughing it” but also not making life harder than it has to be.
This is how we’re doing it…
We decided to start super small! Instead of jumping headfirst into a full-on entire weekend situation, our first “camping” experience was just a day trip. We went up to Flowing Springs Campground in Payson, which is only 90 minutes away. This is a very small, no overnight stay campground that we’re familiar with. We take several trips here in the winter to just play in snow for the morning—it’s super easy to get to, never crowded, immediate access to the campgrounds right from the parking lot, and it has a bathroom!
Campgrounds can get pretty busy on the weekends, so for our first try we decided to go during the week. We woke up at our normal time on a Tuesday, left shortly after breakfast, and arrived around 11am. We took all of the normal camp gear except for the tent:
- Camping chairs
- Folding table
- Small propane stove
- Fire starter
- Food/Water for lunch and dinner
- Change of clothes/shoes for everyone
- Fishing poles (FYI: there’s no actual fish in this spring, but 4 year olds don’t care 😊)
- Small toys
We set up “camp” just like we would if we were staying the night. Then…we just did regular ole’ campin’ stuff! We played a bit with the soccer ball and frisbee that we brought with us; we threw rocks in the creek for the better part of an hour; we did a small craft that I brought with us; we stepped in ant hills to watch them clamor about; we collected wood to build a fire; and the boys rolled around in the dirt just because they could!
My favorite moment
On this particular day, it did look like it was going to rain so we built a fire really fast even though it was still daylight out just so the boys could throw sticks in it! It did start raining that afternoon so I’m glad we got that important camping experience in before it was too late!
I’m glad I thought to bring a few open ended toys (Magnatiles and a shape sorter) to keep the boys entertained under the canopy while it was raining. I also think it was a good familiar item from home to make the transition to a camp setting a little easier.
We ended our trip with a traditional campfire dinner: hot dogs, chips, and s’mores cooked on our little propane stove. This was a great core memory to unlock and end our first “camping trip.” We packed everything up just as it looked like it was really going to start raining and left around 6:30pm.
The Trip Home
One detail I’m proud that we thought of was to bring the boys’ pajamas with us. My husband brought a 6 gallon water container that we filled and left in the back of the truck all day so the water got nice and warm. We used this water as a quick “shower” for the boys, rinsed them off (next time I’ll actually bring their body wash!), and got them in their jammies. The boys fell asleep in the car on the 90 minute ride home, and we were able to get them straight to bed.
This little 8 hour jaunt was so fun and felt conquerable which gave us an easy win under our belts to build momentum for our next outing. We have plans to try camping at Bear Canyon Lake and Willow Springs later this summer, as well as some of these other favorite family-friendly spots.
Our goal is to learn as we go, and not to put too much expectation on ourselves. This desire to go camping more is motivated first and foremost by a desire to be together as a family outside in a screen-free environment. So, as long as we’re doing that, the mishaps and forgotten gear will just add to the memories.
Stay tuned this summer as I share more about our journey camping with young kids!