6 things this non-camping mom learned about camping with a 6 year old.

By “non-camper” I mean a few things. 1) I don’t really know how to camp. I’m sure at some point in my life I’ve slept in a tent but I’ve blocked it from my mind and replaced it with memories of trips that included showers and running water. 2) I hate to camp don’t love to camp. Camping has just never been high on my list of fun activities. Hiking, being outdoors, fire pits, absolutely. But throwing in that overnight piece is where most of my camping experience stops.


I do understand, though, that not only have I married a camper (thank God because where else would I get the supplies for this trip?) but I also have a camper-in-training who thinks it’s the best thing in the world.


That being said, a Mommy & Me trip presented itself for Henry and I to get some much needed bonding time and it just happened to be on a camping trip. So I decided–what’s the worst that can happen, and signed up (Ginni hadn’t told me her snake story, yet, thank you very much.)


Here’s what I learned.
See: Non-Camping mom and very-excited-to-be-camping son.

1. Bring a two-person tent, but only if you’re staying one night. (But really, why are you camping for more than one night in the first place?) Chris gently told me that the tent he was giving us to use was a little…well, small. I shrugged thinking it wouldn’t be that big of a deal…until I saw the other tents. The tents with little screened in foyers and canopies that covered the make-shift tent/ground porches set up with legit coffee makers and all. The reason I say this is if you have an eight person tent, I would expect it would take about eight people to put it up. If you have a two person tent, you can pretty well manage with yourself and your six-year-old cub scout who wants to help (and is taller than the tent when fully constructed.)

2. Amazon Prime a power pack. Yes, camping is about unplugging. But unless you’re willing to also carry around your Nikon DSLR for 20,000 steps, you’re going to use your phone for your camera. Also, don’t put too much into unplugging completely. You’re in the woods. You need your phone.
3. Bring along reading material. You won’t read it. You’ll be too exhausted to read anything when it finally is lights-out but bring it anyway. If you start hearing owls hooting and bugs buzzing and start thinking about how many giant spiders you saw today, (I won’t even get into the possibility of anything larger than a spider) you’ll need that book to take the edge off. (I chose Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and I’m obsessed.)
4. Follow the plan, but make room for your own free time. This camping trip was one where the schedule was planned from 8:00AM-10:00PM. Each activity was fantastic, but at about 1:30, when we had already logged 13 million camping steps (different than regular steps), I knew we needed some downtime. We came back to the tent, Henry listened to an audio book and I read (see, it did come in handy!) until we both regained energy to get back on schedule.
Not all camping activities were violent, I promise.
5. He’s stronger than I give him credit for. Yes, there were whiny moments after 5 long hours of hiking from place to place but when it came down to it–this little boy is braver, stronger, and more independent than I want to admit realized. Case in point–I fully thought we would be fishing sans-bait until he dug deep into his little cup, pulled out the wiggly worm, and lanced him through the hook without a second thought. While that may not seem like the biggest deal, we’re talking about a little boy who would normally be team-worm in this scenario.
6. It’s worth it. The heat, the exhaustion, the bugs, the giant spider that I stomped to death is no longer with us, the lack of shower, it’s all worth it for this face. I got more hugs this Saturday than I have in the week combined (and that’s saying a lot because Henry is a hug-boy.) He was fully in his element and the camp experience will be one we both cherish because mommy stepped out of her comfort zone for one night to embrace the little boy he has become.

*#7 would be wear bright green matching shirts so you don’t get lost in the woods.