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/ January 26, 2024

Camping with your kids (for the moms who “don’t camp”)

I never thought I’d be the type of girl who recommended camping, let alone camping with your kids.

I had never gone camping until this past January. Ever. In fact, I wouldn’t really call myself an outdoorsy kind of girl. I love walking along the beach or taking hikes in Malibu (who doesn’t). But besides that I wouldn’t really consider myself to be an outdoor person.

But this past year Asher got really into backpacking and did a solo trip through Yosemite that got him all fired up about sleeping under the stars. Which of course got the rest of our kids excited.

So for Christmas this year, JonPaul thought it would be fun if “Santa” got everyone camping gear and we attempted our first family camping trip (lord help us).

I went in with really low expectations. And I mean low. I wasn’t even sure we’d all make it through the night. So we picked a campground super close to our house (about 30 minutes away) in case at any point we needed to “pull the chute”.

One of the benefits of living in Southern California is that there are some pretty amazing campgrounds all over, and you can pretty much camp out any night of year, including January 1st they day we decided to go.

We found an incredible place in Malibu, the Sycamore Canyon Campground, at Point Magu State Park. The campground is easy, and clean, has nice(ish) bathrooms, running water, and fire pits and is literally steps from the Pacific Ocean. Plus there are great hiking trails with some pretty epic views (I grew up in the Midwest, so the fact that I can hike/camp and see the Ocean is not lost on me).

We decided on doing a short camp (literally just one night) for our test run. We arrived, set our tents up, took a short hike, cooked dinner, caught the sunset, played a few games, and then snuggled in for the night. And to my surprise, we all did amazingly well. Including me!

So after one shockingly smooth and fun camping excursion, I wanted to take note of what went well, and why I think it went smoothly in hopes of inspiring a few of you to get out and do a little camping with your kids – even if it’s in your own backyard.

Camping with your kids – what worked

  • First off, going in with realistic expectations helped a lot. We weren’t trying to cram in a lot of sight seeing/hiking or other activities. We went in with really realistic expectations.
  • We gave ourselves plenty of time, to pack, unpack, set up tents, get the fire going. So we never felt “rushed” or that we had to get a fire going before the sunset. It was all very relaxed.
  • We packed well. Lots of layers. Lots of good food. Lots of lighting options. Lots of games – and left everythign else home. We were really intentional with what came in the car with us.
  • We had great equipment – we splurged on good quality sleeping bags, pads and of course our tent (all linked below), which made us really comfortable.
  • We got into bed really early, before everyone was tired and cranky. And I’m so glad we did because it took us a while to all find our “spots”, find the right amount of layers to wear, get our pads situated. It takes a hot minute to get cozy & comfy, and I’m so glad we weren’t trying to figure that out while everyone was cranky.

What to pack when camping with your kids

All in all, our first camping trip was a 12 out of 10. I absoltuley loved it. Going to bed with the stars and waking up outside with the rising sun was just so cool. Plus tea inside a tent with your kiddos all around you cuddled up is just the best. We’re already planning our next camping adventure for next month.

I hope this helps inspire a few of you “non-camping” mamas out there to pack up your cars and get out in nature. I promise, you wont regret it.

And for other family travel inspiration, here’s a post all about our family’s recent trip to Costa Rica which was an incredible family destination.



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