18 September 2010

family camping Q&A

thanks for all the kind words about our yellowstone camping trip. sounds like so many of you have made happy memories there. i wanted to wrap up my vacation posts up by answering your camping questions in a little Q&A session. here goes. if you have any other camping related questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. head over to my formspring page if you have general questions for me.

Q. What do you like to put inside your tinfoil dinners?
A. we like to include the basics; ground beef (or steak), onion soup mix, chopped sweet potatoes or classic idaho potatoes, baby carrots, onions and seasoning. i really enjoyed stephanie's great tutorial about making tinfoil dinners. be sure to fold it up tight and jot your name on it with a permanent marker.

campfire cooking should always be a little bit experimental. we brought along some refrigerated dinner roll dough and wrapped it up in buttered tinfoil and cooked it for 10 minutes on the coals. we've also cored apples and packed kraft caramels, brown sugar and oats inside for an delicious tinfoil apple crisp.

we pack individual instant oatmeal packets in a ziplock with packets of hot chocolate. a breakfast of champions. prepped foods that just need hot water is a perfect quick meal. packets of ramen noodles and easy mac are great for kids.

Q. What type of hiking backpack did you use to carry your toddler in?
A. we borrowed a friend's carrier to use while hiking. (thank you julie!) it was a kelty brand and completely perfect for our needs. dan said it was super comfortable too.

Q. Where did you camp and hike while you were in Montana?
A. we camped out in Hyalite Canyon and hiked Grotto Falls. one of the prettiest places i've been. just driving along the windy woodsy roads was breathtaking.

Q. What are your tips for camping with kids? Do's, don'ts and must haves?
A. like any traveling you do with kids, be prepared! bring along surprise goodies for the road and activities for them to entertain themselves. read my how-to for roadtripping with the family and some of your tips on vacationing with a baby here.

everyone needs their own hat, water bottle, plate / bowl & utensils, warm layers (i loved dressing our son in a warm plaid shirt that had a fuzzy lining inside), sturdy shoes and even a backpack that they can carry. older kids would likely love to snap shots with their own camera!

take along a game of cards, connect four, storybooks, a bottle of bubbles and/or a frisbee. anything that can entertain the kids while waiting for the campfire to get going and water to boil for dinner. this is a good time to get jammies on and go on a walk to meet the neighbors. (we happened to chit chat with a very nice man from holland and see another who slept in a hammock under the stars!) kids love exploring and counting pine cones and spotting squirrels.

be sure to bring their favorite blanket or stuffed animal and some books to make them feel at home. after familiarizing our son with the tent, he went down like a dream. we read him stories, sang a song and tucked him in like we always do.

maintaining an organized living space helps keep me sane while on the road. we separate the smaller camp supplies into three bins. we use a small cooler for ice, juice, milk, butter and anything else that needs to stay cold. a larger cooler holds all other food and snacks (this makes it easy that it's all in one place. i keep cups, dishes and bibs inside too. i keep a small serrated knife–wrapped in a towel–in there for slicing fresh fruit for hungry toddlers.) we also have a medium size clear rubbermaid bin that we call our camping chuck box. it holds our small fold-up camping stove, scissors, an axe, matches, a ziplock of saved up dryer lint for starting fires, spf. and bug spray, tarps, bungee cords, parachute cord, wet wipes, a sharp kitchen knife, a hand towel, a large spoon for stirring, travel size dish soap, and other must-haves for camp outs. after our trip, we clean it out and replace anything that needs replacing and store it away for the next camping trip. half the work is already done! i also keep a list of the contents taped inside the clear container so we know what should be packed inside.

bring along an extra duffle bag to act as a hamper to store all the dirty clothes. prepare to do tons of laundry when you get home! and when you're emptying out the cooler after your trip, put all the leftover perishables away and empty it out. put your camping dishes inside the cooler and take the whole thing to your bathtub. fill up the cooler and wash all the supplies at once with warm water and dishwashing soap. 

Q. What did you do to prepare your Yellowstone camp out itinerary?
A. dan did most of the prep for this trip! he reserved a camp spot online. then he browsed the library and brought home an armful of travel books to plan for yellowstone. these were are three favorite resources:  

Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks by Brian Kevin
The Rangers Guide to Yellowstone by Susan & Phil Frank  
Family Fun in Montana by Chris Boyd  
the PBS National Parks movie with Ken Burns is amazing too.

yellowstone park is so huge, it's like attempting to see the entire Louvre museum in one day! pace yourselves and enjoy all the beautiful surroundings as you go. there are plenty of rangers to tell you about good hikes for your family. bring along some books on cd and enjoy the drive through nature. get some bear spray (and read the directions before you leave)! don't be too nervous about camping at yellowstone. there are plenty of rules set up so there are rarely any troubles with animals coming into the campgrounds. plus, with plenty of campers camping around you, there's a sense of safeness. and if you own a pair of binoculars, be sure to bring them too. most of your animal interaction will be from your own car! you are sure to have a wonderful time together. it's such a perfect excuse to unplug from distractions and enjoy your family's company.


Janet Dillon Robinson said...

This was really helpful/fun to read. I don't have kids yet but I still enjoyed it :)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading you blog and found the way your organize your supplies helpful. I appreciate that you use dryer lint for starting fires, it works great. Thanks

Janet Dillon Robinson said...

Also! I gave you a "One Lovely Blog" award:


..because your blog is lovely!

Eileen said...

thanks for all the info! as a camping newbie, these tips are very helpful. Am going to have to experiment with things to cook. We tried oatmeal for breakfast on our last trip and it ended up lukewarm and overly soggy.... it will take some practice to get it right!

talesofahummingbird said...

i have loved all of your photos and commentaries on your big outdoorsy trip with the boys and am so terribly excited to take my own similar trip someday hopefully not-so-long from now. camping with my dad is my single best memory, hands down, of my childhood. can't wait to create my own epic memories like that with my own family.

Megan Kossove said...

Oh how I wish I lived out west!! I just know I would be camping in the fall and in the spring! Your pictures made me feel like I was right there with you. Thanks for sharing the mighty outdoors with this Florida gal! In Dec or January, I'll send you some photos to help warm you up! :)

Sarah said...

You are a gal after my own heart. Great post. We are heading out on a camper/trailer trip this weekend for two weeks! Southern California to Portland, Oregon and back.
I love this post and am linking back to it on a future (While-I'm-Away post).
We love our hobo meals (tin foil dinners). Having those our first night!
Great tips!

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