We braved our very first family camping trip this weekend.  It was the boys’ first-ever campout, and truthfully, it was only campout #2 for the hubs and me.  We just aren’t the outdoorsy type.  But we survived.  Actually, you know what?  We did more than survive- we enjoyed ourselves!

So I’m not quite sure why people’s first reaction was to laugh when we told them we were camping, but it happened.  And as soon as they caught their breath, everyone had some sort of tip to give us.  And I must admit, many were helpful.  But upon the return of a weekend in the woods with two small children, I have realized that a few tips were left out.  So with no further ado, here are my tips for a successful camping trip.  So that you, unlike me, can never ask, “why didn’t anyone tell us that???”

1. Bring chargers.  For your cell phones, for your air pump, for your camera.  More likely than not, your campsite will have an outlet.  Trust me, the woods get very quiet very quickly when your phone dies and Pandora can no longer stream through your campsite.  Your back will be screaming in pain if you have to sleep on the hard ground instead of an air mattress.  Luckily though, the camp store will probably sell hand pumps and it will probably only take you  your husband about 30 minutes to inflate the mattress by hand.  And you’ll be sad if your camera dies the second after you snap your first picture.  Especially if you are a crazy blogging mother who feels the need to take 50 million pictures of her children a day.  Not that any of this happened or anything…

2. Give Dad space when setting up the tent. No matter how “easy to assemble” your tent claims to be, it will be more complicated and more time consuming than expected.  Chances are high that swearing will occur and frustration will ensue.   As much as they’d like to believe otherwise, over-excited young people do not make good helpers in this situation.  Do yourself and your baby-daddy a favor here, and take the kids on a walk “to explore” while he sets the tent up in peace.

3. Label everyone’s cup.  Putting an initial on each cup can prevent things from happening that you never even thought imaginable- like a 5-year-old chugging down the end of his father’s vodka-lemonade, mistakenly thinking it was juice poured especially for him.  Chances are, you’ll be very scared if this happens, and your husband will probably ask him every 4 seconds if he’s feeling weird at all.  He may or may not perform a sobriety test in the form of Follow The Leader.  Again… I speak hypothetically…

4. Bring Earplugs. Your neighbors, who are only a few bushes away, probably will not have children who will wake at dawn.  They will probably stay up late, drinking and listening to music.  Unless you don’t mind feeling like a somewhat creepy, uninvited guest, it might be in your best interest to plug your ears and catch some shut-eye.  Either that, or turn your music on and let your kids be as loud as they’d like in the morning.  Nothing like a bright-and-early wake up call.

5. Relax and enjoy your family time. If your family is anything like mine, you can’t remember the last time you were all together for an extended period of time with zero distractions.  I am so fortunate to live so close to some amazing state parks. However, demanding schedules and other crazy to-do items always seem to come before packing up and heading out to a quieter place.  Our campsite was right on the shores of Lake Ontario, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.  (Well, maybe if my camera was charged it would have been.) Gorgeous views, beautiful weather, and a few people who I happen to like. A lot.  Yes, when all was said and done, I’d say we were pretty happy campers.