I did not grow up camping. My family always stayed at hotels or family’s and friend’s homes when we were on vacation. My first time camping was in college on a bike trip. I thought it was so much fun. So, when I met my husband and learned he comes from a family of avid campers, I was pumped!
Now that we have two little ones, we still want to enjoy the outdoors. So, I proposed a family camping trip with our little family, my sisters family and my cousins family. Total we have 5 kids, ranging from 6 months to 2 years old. Crazy, right? The week leading up to camping, I, as the “organizer”, received many texts from my sister and cousin with concerns about the weather (thank you, 10-day forecast). Despite a few concerns about the cold (the low was predicted to be around 38 degrees), we all decided to brave the outdoors. And guess what? We had a blast.
With so many amazing places to camp in Minnesota, we had plenty of options. Staying close to Rochester was important to us, in case there was an emergency; Whitewater State Park was the perfect fit. We got a group site, so it was large enough for all our tents while still having plenty of space for our toddlers to run around. We also were far away from other groups, so we felt like we had privacy. During the day we went on a beautiful hike to Chimney Rock and sang songs around the campfire. In the evening we put the kids to bed and enjoyed time talking around the fire.
If you are thinking about camping with toddlers or babies, take these five tips, and just go for it! It may be out of your comfort zone, but your kids will grow to love the great outdoors.
- If you plan to camp in cold weather, like we did, bring LOTS of warm clothes. This means onesies to go under pajamas, blankets, warm socks, stocking caps and mittens.
- Bring a stroller. You probably won’t be able to push your little ones around on rocky paths, but it’s handy to have a safe place to put your kids by the fire (while still keeping a close eye on them).
- Bring a small tent to play in. We set up a small tent previously used at the beach as a sun shade. It was perfect for the toddlers to use as their own special tent, and it was also a small place the babies could crawl or sit.
- Be careful when you venture out on hiking trails. We did okay on our hike, but make sure you know what kind of terrain you will be trekking on, especially if you are using baby carriers.
- Let your kids explore. The toddlers on our trip had a blast running around the campsite, picking up leaves & branches and spotting animals.
So, should you go camping with your babies and toddlers? YES. Camping was a great adventure for our family. It was a ton of work and certainly nothing like camping pre-children, but I would recommend it. It’s an awesome opportunity to spend an extended amount of time outside with your children. If you are looking to camp in the Rochester area, check out Whitewater State Park or one of the many other Minnesota State Parks.