By Car, Travel

13 Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

13 Lessons Learned Camping with Kids & Dogs

Last July we got a new (to us) trailer and made many wonderful memories camping in the last half of the summer and into the fall.  As the snow has begun to melt, we are all longing for the warmer weather and the chance to get the trailer back out of storage so we can go on some new adventures. 

On our first trip out with our trailer, we had the opportunity to check out several great campgrounds and lakes in Saskatchewan.  While we did run into a couple bumps along the way, it was a great trip overall.  The kids spent a lot of time at the playground, the dogs got to swim in some nice lakes and my husband and I got a bit of time to relax and unwind in front of a roaring campfire (thank you rain for helping the fire ban get lifted!).

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I also learned a few important lessons on that first camping trip that I thought would share.  No matter how prepared you think you are, there are always new things to discover and learn from.

Lesson 1  Bunk beds are the best thing ever when you are 3 and 5!  The kids loved each having their separate space in the trailer and we had no issues getting them to sleep in their new beds.  My son must have said “I love this trailer!!” over 100 times during that first trip.

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Lesson 2  My children really aren’t that bad in the car.  Give them an iPad and plenty of snacks and they did pretty amazing for the 31 hours we spent in the vehicle throughout the trip.  Trapped in a trailer in the pouring rain for an entire day, though, is a whole other story…

Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

Lesson 3  Be prepared for those rainy days!  When it poured our entire first day, I was so happy to have our toy tote packed with crayons, coloring books, stickers, play-doh, board games, card games and Lego.

Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

Lesson 4  My son can actually draw.  Mr.Sketch scented markers are magical.  Paired with a roll of Ikea drawing paper, my son did more drawing over a course of a week then he has his entire life.  I love seeing his monster creations and drawing was the perfect way to keep the kids occupied as we were preparing meals.

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Lesson 5  Dollar Store knives can be very sharp!   I ended up slicing into the tip of my finger in a rush to cut potatoes and get dinner ready our first night out camping.  Ouch!  This is also a good reminder that sometimes it is best to slow things down a bit.

Lesson 6 Bulldog’s just can’t swim.  I thought our new little guy had more hope then our other bulldog because of his slightly longer legs, but that short snout just makes it impossible for them to keep their head above water.  He tried his darndest, but ended up just happily wading in the water as our other dog swam out to retrieve the toys

On the other hand, our long bodied, short legged bully basset looks like she would never be able to swim and it is one of her favourite activities ever.  We haven’t had her near water in well over a year and she was right back at it retrieving her Water Kong.

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Lesson 7  No matter how many times you untangle the dogs leashes and try to show them where to go, they will be tangled again in a matter of minutes.  I moved them between various trees and the picnic table legs, and it was always the same result.

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Lesson 8  ALWAYS have Benadryl on hand.  After a fun filled swim in one of the lakes, we all ended up with swimmer’s itch and I had to hunt down a $32 bottle of it at the campground store.  This is my first experience ever needing it, but I’ll be sure to have a better stocked medicine cabinet on future trips.

Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

Lesson 9 Choose your campsite based on proximity to the playground.  Our kids aren’t quite old enough to go to the playground alone so for our next trip we have tried to book a site as close as possible to the park.  It would be nice to have the option to send them to the park alone for a few minutes while we are setting up or busy preparing meals.

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Lesson 10 The playground in every Saskatchewan Park campground is the exact same!  Okay, this might not hold true for ALL campgrounds, but the 3 we stayed in and another 2 we visited all had the EXACT same playground.  Luckily the kids didn’t seem too bothered by it.

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Lesson 11 Bug stings hurt.  A lot!  I am still not sure what stung me in the elbow, but my arm felt like it had a burn and was very sore for the entire day.  This was my first time being stung and now I have a greater understanding of why people go running when wasps or hornets are around.  Just one more reason to have that Benadryl on hand.

Lesson 12 Jiffy Pop CANNOT be made over a campfire.  The package even warns against it, but I am stubborn and felt the need to try it again anyway.   Mostly I wanted to prove my husband wrong, but the bowl of burnt disgusting popcorn just left him grinning.  I guess we will just stick to s’mores.

Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

And, finally…

Lesson 13  There is no better feeling then that first shower at home after a long camping trip!  Okay, this one I already knew but it was just reconfirmed with this trip.  We took a few showers throughout the trip, but nothing beats a long hot shower in the comfort of home.

Lessons Learned Camping with Kids and Dogs

We loved the campgrounds in Saskatchewan, but this summer we are planning to keep things a bit closer to home.  We already have a couple campsites booked in the Alberta Parks and I am sure we will have no problems filling our other weekends visiting nearby lakes.  My daughter is really into playing “camping” these days and I know are all itching for summer to arrive so we can get our trailer back and enjoy a change of scenery.

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