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The wife and I used to be campers before we met and since we met only a couple times. We really want to get back into it and get our children to be raised camping (in the outdoors in general). We have 2 girls (18 mth & 2 mths). At what age did you start taking your kids camping? How was the experience? Pluses/minuses? Suggestions?
 

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Been taking my son since 3 yrs old. Every other weekend. You have to be prepared for afternoon crankiness, bugs(gnats) and
not wanting to walk more than 75 yards. Hes turning 5 next month and finally got over the walking part but not the cranky part. Just gotta know how to deal with it. All children are gonna act different though. I personally wouldn't take babies camping.
 

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My parents went camping several times a year since I was born . This was in the late 50"s early 60"s. My sister and I grew up camping in state parks and campgrounds, more rustic the better.I went on overnighters with my dad and his scout troop when I was 3-4 years old. It can be a challenge with infants and toddlers, bring a play crib, mosquito netting and I found that a new small box of toys that were only to play with while camping ,directed energy. Try it in the backyard for the weekend. Like biggame says, be prepared for meltdowns and cranky due to unfamiliar surroundings, especially at bedtime. But if you did it right by wearing them out, they well fall asleep by dark. Best advice, roll with the punches and have FUN
 

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Took my son tent camping when he was 4 months old, daughter, when she was a year. In fact with the daughter, her first camping was at a reenactment at Ft. Mandan in North dakota.
 

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I think it depends on "rustic" of camping that you are doing. If you are staying a camper running on a generator with most of the amenities then you will be fine. If you are sleeping on the ground and hiking 10 miles back in, then you may have some issues.

Any grandparents that may want to take the tikes for a weekend while you camp? Of course that could be bad as you may get #3 on the way. or good depending on how you look at it. LOL.
 

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Took our youngest when she was still in diapers. The boys were 3 and five. Fun time when it was raining. We camped with 2 other families. We each had big tents.
 

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One of our kids was because of a camping trip.
We started with a tent, then a pop-up, and then a 22' Terry travel trailer. We went all over Pa., Jersey Shore, and Tuckahoe in Del. The travel trailer was a life saver for bathing the kids, heating bottles, etc. The wife kept it well stocked with games and stuff for rainy days. Then they got older, involved in sports/school activities, and the camping stopped. Sold the camper (lawn ornament) a few years back.
 

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We were thinking tent camping in state parks. Probably get sites with electric though. We may wait until next year, taking a 3 month old might be too hard on the wife come feeding time.
 

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I started taking my son when he was 3. He's 8 now and his sister is 6. We just got back from a 3 day campout where they were wet/muddy the whole weekend and they had a blast.

As others have noted- young kids are into the experience NOW, and that might not be aligned w/what you think is fun or interesting.

Bring plenty of toys they can goof around with. But it can be anything- For some reason on one of his early trips I gave my son a 10 ft piece of rope and showed him how to make a knot. That kept him entertained for hours.

Don't expect to be able to swing in a hammock and relax. Ain't gonna happen until they are in bed and asleep. In fact, don't expect to be able to do much of anything that doesn't involve them. You aren't going to be able to wade into a deep hole bass fishing with a 3 year old on the bank. And if you stay on the bank with them be prepared to bait hooks and play keep-away from catastrophes.

Bring friends. If they have other kids to play with they'll go off in a mob and entertain themselves.

BH
 

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Backwoods said:
We were thinking tent camping in state parks. Probably get sites with electric though. We may wait until next year, taking a 3 month old might be too hard on the wife come feeding time.
My wife and three boys started off just the way you mentioned above - tent camping in state parks on electric / water sites when my twins were 8 months and my oldest was 3.

My wife bought us a "3 room" tent at Wal-mart for about $130... you can't even stay at a decent hotel for one night at that price (by the way that tent is over 5 years old and we still have it in tip-top shape). This gave us enough space to fit two pack-and-plays, a sleeping bag, and a blow up mattress for us.



Again, having water and electric at the site is great for those expected diaper blow-outs, puking, etc.



As with any activity - be it at a campsite or in a mall - parents know when their kids needs to sleep to prevent crankiness. If you stick to their normal schedules (nap, feedings, etc.), you should be fine. We never once had any extreme behaviour issues where we wanted to "pack it up for the weekend" - remember, kids will be kids and can be unpredictable any day of the week. That's why I also recommend red solo cups and a decent beer or wine for when the kids fall asleep.



With anything, the sooner you get the kids out there, the better. My boys now 5 and 8, love camping so much that we have a year round campsite at a private campground in the Poconos - we even upgraded to a 28' travel trailer.

One other piece of advice, if you are at an electric site, bring an oscillating fan. We found that by having moving air in a stuffy tent helped the kids fall asleep real fast.

I know you also mentioned "feeding time". On our second family camping trip, my wife was nursing both of the twins at the same time - she was quite skilled - when all of a sudden a big, black bear came through the edge of our campsite. Needless to say, my wife tucked both babies under her arms and was in our car in a split second. One other thing I made a habit of doing was keeping our car keys / remote fob right near the bed at night. At the same campsite a few years ago, we had a bear outside of the tent. I tried calling the ranger station, but there was no answer. Best thing I could think of was to hit the "panic button" on the car fob. The bear ran off pretty fast.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank bjb2799! It looks like you guys had a ton of fun. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures.
 

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We started camping with our son when he was 14 months or so. Like others have said you have to be prepared for the typical kid things, and don't go into it expecting to stick hard and fast to a cram packed schedule. Remember to have fun and enjoy it above all. And don't worry about what other people think of your screaming, crying kid. They'll get over it.
 
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