By Katherine Jaeger  

Going camping with a young family might seem like a daunting task, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges! The outdoors is such a great teacher for all of us, but especially for youth. Providing my kids with the chance to play and explore in an outdoor setting allows them to gain confidence in themselves and experience new things. We all benefit from the fresh air and sunshine, and I’ve noticed my kids are much happier when we spend time outside.  

Is going camping with my young family difficult? Of course! The logistics of safe sleep, clean clothing, bottles, milk/formula, and everything else that comes with small kids are still there. In many ways, some of those logistics are magnified in the outdoors! But the work is worth it. I get to see my children learning and exploring, and we make amazing family memories.   

If you want to start camping with your family this summer, here are some things to keep in mind.  

The first is to start small! The first trip is always the hardest. Once you figure out systems that work for your family, it becomes much more manageable. Don’t feel the need to go to some grand location either. Start small at a nearby state park where you can always run back home if you forget something (been there!).  

Secondly, don’t compare your time outside with anyone else. Sometimes, I feel like an imposter in the outdoors when I see people on social media do things like backpack for miles with small children. It’s okay if your camping experience looks different than someone else’s! The goal is to get outside and enjoy time as a family. It does not have to be a perfect camping experience to be worth it.  

Lastly, go with the flow. Sometimes, my kids only eat goldfish and s’mores. Sometimes, they don’t go to bed until almost 10 p.m. The memories we are making are far more important than a weekend of perfect nutrition and schedules. So, grab your gear, embrace the adventure, and have a blast with your little ones in the great outdoors.