Life With Littles: How To Camp With Your Children

In the thick of life with littles, and in one of the most transitional seasons of their lives, two brave couples asked themselves “why not try camping?”…

So many of you have asked us “how on earth do you camp, travel, take 10+ hour road trips with your littles?” The astonishing truth is, we, in fact, are not superhuman! We are two very impatient home-bodies who believe the best way for us to experience growth for ourselves, and extend it to our children is by expanding them beyond our every day, and cherishing the pause that adventurous space invites.

So here’s to you. The parents living life with littles every day questioning a road trip or camping for the first time…you can (and totally should) do it! Camping is one of the most cost-effective ways to make adventuring fun for your children, without breaking the bank. And, it gets them away (enough) from socialization, screen time, and distractions of toy mayhem at home to get outside and enjoy nature! I am not even kidding you, if for no reason other than this – GO CAMPING! Our kids got along better than they EVER HAVE at home, and spent hours collecting dirt, sticks, and rocks for their imaginary kitchen. Seeing their imaginations run wild was the greatest gift and far outweighed many of the more expensive trips we’ve taken as a family of 4.

Life With Littles Plus Others

For our first time camping as a family, we tagged along with another family with kids similar in age to brave the adventure with us. This was better than I could have ever expected, because it does take some of the pressure off of handling, cooking, and doing everything with just you and your partner. We had the most fun together brainstorming how to cook oatmeal over a fire (I forgot a pot), discovering our next adventure, and watching our kids eat mounds of sand while being completely filthy from head to toe pretty much the entire time. TYPE A PERSONALITY MAMAS BE WARNED – you and your kids WILL get dirty! I had to leave my controlling-mama mind at the threshold of our campsite, and let our wildebeests run wild and just be kids. And what a treasure that was to my mama heart! (and to theirs).

As exhausting and shower-less as their weekend was, this is what I pray the highlights of their childhood memories look like. Not to keep up with the Jones’ (because let’s be real – do they even camp?) but to stop and take these moments in. Sometimes, yes, behind a camera because in these little years especially, they may not remember. (though our Luella doesn’t forget a THING!)

But we don’t solely create these experiences for them to remember, we create them for us to remember too.

The little years where it is impossible to clean the sand out of a diaper.

Where screaming in a tent may wake up the neighbors, but the warm snuggles from an air mattress of your little one in their footed pajamas are not something you experience at the Hilton.

These moments bring to life something in their character that is only developed by being outside of their (and our) comfort zone.

A tent on a campsite in the woods - Quote image - The best way for us to experience growth and extend it to our children is expanding them beyond our every day, and cherishing the pause that adventurous spaces invite. - Life With Littles

So from this first time, absolute camping amateur, mama, here are a few successful tips we’ve found that helped us for our first time camping with our children. (Ages 2 and 3).

I’ll leave out the fails…or save those for another post! 😉

  • Practice camping at home (first!) – Though our at-home camping was a complete, and I mean COMPLETE fail, but we already had this trip booked, so we were determined! But still, this is a great first step if you’re the not-so-daring type.
  • Involve your kids in the process. While we pack the majority of the essentials, our kids both bring one backpack with some healthy (and some not so much) snacks for the road, a few of their favorite toys/games, which gets them excited and talking about the adventure.
  • Go with other families 
  • Do your research on kid-friendly campgrounds
  • Embrace nature – Walk through the woods, ask them to find one thing to bring back with them that’s special. Luella found a Petoskey stone on the beach, and Chase found an acorn, but it was a treasured acorn, to say the least! 
  • Let go of social norms – Let your kids eat with their hands, and by the third day, let them walk shoeless #chooseyourbattles
  • Keep consistent bedtime routine – We still started our bedtime routine at the same time (for the most part) that we do at home. This goes for naps (in the car or on the boat) and planning adventures around those times, and not stressing if they miss a nap, but giving them the chance to.
  • Add special touches – Bring things at home to make your children feel like they are at home – in the middle of the woods. Including sound machines, night lights, cozy blankets, pillows, etc.
  • Be flexible with the weather/your plans
  • Know that your limits (and your patience) will be tested!
  • Embrace the dirt, then embrace the dirt some more.
  • Plan kid-friendly campfire meals – Some great ones can be found at and some healthy snacks for on the go at
  • Pack for all seasons if you live in Michigan! (But really, do it.)
  • Make an Emergency/First Aid kit 
  • Sit back and marvel at their imagination 
  • Pack double the food/snacks you think you’ll need – Kids (and mom and dad) eat triple time when they are on the run exploring!
  • Leave room for growth – Though our pictures may not show our fails as first time campers with kids, there were plenty of them this trip! Allow yourself room to grow, have grace with yourself and your littles! In fact, have grace in every season of life with littles; both for yourself and them.


Photos Documenting Our Trip

Camping - The Pause Pursuit - Life With LittlesCamping - The Pause PursuitCamping - The Pause Pursuit - Life With LittlesSand Dunes - The Pause PursuitHiking - The Pause PursuitBeach - The Pause PursuitCamping - The Pause Pursuit - Life With Littles

Parenting, The Pause Pursuit




Life With Littles: How To Camp With Your Children


  1. Melissa Secco says:

    I love this! Looks like an amazing adventure!

  2. […] we headed home with priceless moments only created outside of the comfort of the known at home (toddlers and camping – that’s another story!) Moments where those tiny humans of ours experienced things […]

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