Camping With A Toddler

After our first camping trip this summer, we had to do it again with our 3 year old toddler!

Camping is a perfect getaway to take mini-breaks from a busy life in the city, and actively spend time as a family to create memories that will last us a lifetime.

This time, it was at the end of summer, so the days were warm and the nights chilly.

In this post, I’ll highlight how we prepped and how it went.

Our Prep

To start, I’ll say that camping is no walk in the park (pun intended), but this was one of our best family adventures. There’s no better way to disconnect from your daily stressors and reconnect with nature. The more you put in, the more you will get.

About 2 weeks before the trip, we watched a bunch of videos and found cartoons about camping. This got Zakariya interested in the idea and we told him that we’re going on our own trip soon. That also helped familiarize him with new activities (ie. less screen time), expecting to be around some bugs and animals, and sleeping in a completely new place.

To book – here’s their reservation page

We found a great site that was only 1.5 hours from our place in Toronto, packed our bags and drove straight to our campsite at Earl Rowe Provincial Park.
The Learn to Camp program from Ontario parks was made for people like us, who want to try camping but didn’t know where to start. We used the camping checklist on Ontario Parks’ Learn to Camp website to pack for our trip (I’ll highlight a few things from our experience below). And it goes into everything from how to build a campfire to recipes to try.

During the trip

This time around, we felt a lot more comfortable, and a big reason was the support from the Park Ambassadors

We booked a free 30 minute workshop with a Park Ambassador to guide us through our tent setup, and Tanya from Learn to Camp was so helpful. Besides the tent, she had great advice about the lookout points and activities we could try. My son and husband were more excited about the wildlife and she told us the Blue Jays and Red Squirrels we’ll get to see here!

Few things to note:

  • Tent – get one for double the number of people you are, we went a bit overboard with a 10-person tent, but this leaves enough room to keep all your bags and belongings in the tent instead of having to go to the car.
  • Weather – check the forecast, be prepared for the worst so you’ll make the most of it. In our case, it was going to rain, so we had extra clothes and blankets to keep warm and dry. And since the temperature went down to 8*C, we cuddled together with a few layers of clothes and cozy blankets 🙂
  • How much food? – A happy camper is a well-fed camper, so we packed lots of food and snacks for each of us. And honestly, even the most basic food tastes good out there!
  • Food Prep – You can take kitchen utensils, but it’s not the same as your kitchen. So I pre-cut our veggies and marinated the meat, and packed everything in a cooler at home. Saved a lot of time and energy while we were camping.
  • Kids food – pack their favourite snacks, food they are used to at home. we learned Zakariya really liked M&Ms but oddly wasn’t a fan of s’mores…
  • Kids activities – we took several toys and colouring books so there are plenty of options for him, and downloaded new games on his tablet. And we created activities at our site – like using a big walking stick, he lead the way to our water tap to fill the bucket.
  • Stargazing – it’s pitch black, we planned on staying in our tents all night, but we always took a moment to step outside before bedtime. It was absolutely beautiful, I’ve never seen so many stars in the sky.
  • Washroom – we chose our site to be 1-minute walking distance from the washroom, which has the sinks and stalls you’d expect, and individual showers as well! There’s also laundry available at this park, if you’re planning a longer trip. For Zakariya, we also bought a portable potty for him to use at night, and we emptied it in the washroom the next morning.
  • Fire – we want the open fires to be safe and fun. That means only starting it when we’re ready to use it, never leaving it unattended, and explaining to Zakariya that only we’re allowed to add wood  to the fire, but he’s allowed to roast marshmallows on a long stick.
  • Clothes – pack for the weather and wildlife – bring a hat, wear sunscreen, and don’t skimp on the bug sprays! Make sure you are using child-friendly products on the little ones.

Most of our research this time was for Zakariya, found a lot of useful tips here.

There’s quite nothing like wrapping yourself in a blanket, watching the sunset, and hearing the crackling of the fire as you roast marshmallows.

Can’t wait for our next camping adventure!

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