In January of this year, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to get out and go camping with Sky Baby at least five times this year. As May rolled around and the weather started to become more tolerable for being outside all day, I started to make plans on when, where, and how. I’m really proud to say that Sky and I have been camping four times so far this year and I’m working on our next camping trip. We will definitely meet our goal this year. I started doing small trips to prepare for a week long trip in the Black Hills this past August.

camping toys

Tips to prepare for longer trips:

  1. Start small. Find someplace close and just do an overnighter. Our first camping trip was at a park that is a 45 minutes away from the house and my friend with two toddlers joined us. Sky loved camping so we planned a two night trip a bit further away.
  2. Packing matters. I normally try to pack several things so they are very easy to access when we arrive at the campsite: tent, bug spray, toys, snacks, and a baby carrier. I try to set up the tent first so putting out a few toys and offering (bribing with) snacks help me to get a few things done. If Sky is too grumpy for whatever reason, then up she goes in the baby carrier. I haven’t had to use the carrier too much as she’s normally thrilled to get out of her car seat by the time we arrive.
  3. Out of the box solutions? One of the great things about doing small trips is you can figure out what works for you. Sky loves going in and out of the tent but always forgets to take her shoes off. This usually leads to lots of dirt on the air mattress and me sleeping with rocks. Instead of trying to keep her out of the tent, I simply bring along a waterproof mattress protector to throw over my air mattress so there are no rocks and we have a dry bed when we are ready for bed time.
  4. Toys. I normally pack several Green Toys and have them easily accessible for when we arrive at the campsite. This allows Sky to play a bit and me to set up the tent without her trying to get in it. I love the Green Toys brand because they are heavy duty and dishwasher safe. So when they get dirty at the campsite, no problem; just toss them in the dishwasher. I also bring a roll of paper and crayons to place on the table. We use rocks and stuff from around the camp to tack down the edges so it doesn’t fly away and Sky has a ton of room to color.
  5. Bedtimes are wonky. Just accept that your child may be exhausted and fall asleep early or they might not fall asleep until the stars are out. The first few times I tried to enforce her normal bedtime, I just met with resistance and frustration (the frustration was from me). Instead now I just monitor and look for her sleepy signs. Some nights she goes to bed at dusk and sometimes we watch the stars come out.
  6. Let them get dirty. I pack about twice as many clothes as Sky needs for camping. I let her run around barefoot in camp and play in the dirt. She finds sticks and pinecones in the areas near the campsite and brings them into the tent.
  7. Be prepared. We took a trip from our home in Milwaukee to the Black Hills of South Dakota in August. The original weather report called for mid 70s and no rain with nighttime temperatures in the low 60s. Instead we had a day with intermittent rain and 60 degrees in the afternoon and low 50s at night. I had packed a heavy fleece footie pajamas and her Oakiwear suit. So even though I was hoping not to use these things, I’m glad I brought them.


Sky loves to go camping and looks forward to sleeping in the tent. Start small, work your way up to longer trips, figure out how it works for your family and have fun out there!


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