As I prepare to head out on our next camping adventure, I thought I'd take a moment and share a few thoughts on how our family makes it work.
We "officially" started camping as a family summer 2017, so by no means am I an expert at all things camping. I grew up camping though and after our last adventures, I've learned a few things.
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I won't lie. Getting everything ready for a family of 9 to go on a camping trip is exhausting! My weeks leading up to the trip involve lots of laundry, lots of food prep, and lots of lists.
I created 3 lists this last time that included one for just the kid's stuff/clothing, one for gear, and another for food. These help keep me on track and less likely to forget items.
We often camp with other family members so the food is divided up and each family gets put in charge of certain portions or meals. For example, this last time we brought the meat for all the meals and another family member brought all the sides.
As the trip gets closer I will start to pack the kids' clothing. This is so I know what they still need washed and also so the items I have already packed don't get worn again before we leave!
How I Pack
I have 4 totes that I use for non-perishable food, dishes, misc. items, and bathroom items. I had the kids save their old school backpacks to put their clothes in. And other items like life jackets & towels just end up in a garbage bag.
My kids bring their pillows with their favorite sleeping blanket or stuffie inside the pillow case so it all stays contained. They also get to bring a small tote with drawing supplies, crosswords, and mad-libs! We LOVE mad-libs! Get your Free Printable one here!
So what is in these totes specifically?
Tote #1 - Any non-perishable food items. An example from our last camping trip included items like baked beans, graham crackers, cereal, snacks, hot cocoa, and other items like that.
Tote #2 - I keep a set of washable plastic plates, cups, bowls, and utensils in this tote all the time. I also keep a plastic table cloth, marshmallow sticks, a kettle for boiling water, a roll of foil, sandwich bags, dish soap, wash cloths, sponges, and a wash bin.
Items that get thrown in at the last minute include a cooking pot & sauce pan, serving utensils, any leftover birthday paper plates, cups, & utensils, and cooking spices.
Tote # 3 - This is the misc tote. It contains our lanterns, flashlights, rope, clothespins, lighters/matches, this really cool combo battery operated fan/light, a wind up radio/flashlight, a hammer, knives, paper towels, toilet paper, Lysol wipes, etc!
Tote #4 - This tote is a smaller size than the others. I put the shower items like shampoo & soap as well as the sunscreen, bug spray, and toothbrushes in here. I also put in a few collapsible hampers(dollar store! Keeps the dirty clothes contained!) a mirror, hand sanitizer, the hair brushes and other items like this.
The first and most important is obviously a tent... now you may ask, how on earth do you fit 9 people in one tent!!?! Did you know they make tents big these days?
Oh yes! The tent we own is made for 16 people, can be divided into 3 rooms, and includes lots of side pockets for trinkets! Similar to this one.
My husband & I take one room and fill it up with a big airbed(hubby has a bad back & knees). Then there is still room for our bags and the small tote of shower/personal hygiene items.
We leave the other 2 rooms open(no dividers) and pile 3 queen air beds and the baby's pack n play in it. Give you a sense of space?
Here is a picture from our last trip of a few of my kids eating in the tent because the bees would just not leave us alone! To the right are 2 of the 3 air mattresses and to the upper left is the pack n play. Just to the left (if you can imagine) of the pack n play is the other air mattress. This leaves a pretty good size area (where our plates are) still for changing etc.
LOL! Not the "best" picture of my kids!
As far as other gear goes we bring:
Pack n Play - But by next summer he will be too big for it :(
Cooler - With food in it ;)
Our BBQ - We don't have a camp stove(yet)
A 5 gallon water cooler
A folding Table - I steal one from my office
Life Jackets for all the kids
Yes those are nachos on the grill! Bet you didn't know you could cook nachos on a bbq! :) Just be sure to use an old cookie sheet!
In order to get to a camp ground we have to take 2 vehicles. Boo! We have a suburban that seats 9, but with all the gear there is no way we would fit. Hoping to eventually be able to purchase a trailer so we can avoid this situation in the future.
So the majority of the gear goes in my husbands truck bed and all the soft items, like pillows, and things that aren't contained go in the back of the suburban. I'm sure I've left out plenty of details I just cannot remember right now, so feel free to leave me a comment with any questions!
If you happen to be on the fence about taking your own family camping I would highly suggest that you do. It's really great to be out of your every day routines and enjoy the great outdoors!
Don't forget to grab your free silly camping mad-lib!! Click here!
I took this sunset pic while we were camping at Jump Off Joe Resort in Valley, WA.