My least favorite bit about camping is the prep work...the packing, the planning, shopping, trying to make sure you haven't left anything out. I would say that we tend to be the type of family to over-pack...thinking better to have extra than not enough.
We also are the type (since having kids) to stick to the provincial campgrounds with flushing toilets and showers. We do tent, but it would be a dream to own our own trailer that was fully equipped with all the supplies so we'd just have to throw in our clothes!
We have been camping with kids almost every summer. We enjoyed ourselves last year and have plans to go at least 3x this summer. (The pictures below are from last summer). We are heading out this weekend with Greg's side of the family (8 adults, 5 kids).
I'm curious what your tips are for camping with kids...
Kids who camp are always filthy. Bring a big enough rubbermaid tub so that you can bath the baby in it or dip your kids feet in it before they climb into their beds. You can also use it as a pool at your hot campsite.
If your kids are like mine, they will wake up with the birds. Pack muffins, granola bars or cereal to grab in the early morning to keep your kids quiet until you get around to making the real breakfast.
Sleep is limited while camping. Find a tent with "rooms" so you can hide the playpen behind a wall. Otherwise your baby will wake up, see you, and want up immediately.
Bring a buggy that reclines, as your baby will probably not be able to sleep in a sweltering tent and will need to learn to nap in the shade on the beach. A bug screen over a playpen in the shade could also work in your favor. Even though it's hot, pack full sleepers for babies as a tent does tend to cool off during the night and you won't want their little legs freezing and waking them. And more importantly, you don't want to be up during the night making sure everyone is covered!
Bring earplugs. Sleeping next to another tent, the birds, squirrels, drunks, a train, all your breathing children, and mosquitos is a sure fire way of keeping you awake.
Go ahead and bring your booster seat. I have tried feeding an active toddler on a picnic table, while falling off the back and climbing on the table and it's just not worth it. Now I bring a folding chair with his eating chair/tray that straps on it, so eating is just as normal as at home.
Swim shirts are a must. Unless you want to be continually applying sunscreen, do what I do and buy them a swim shirt and slap a hat on them. It does wonders. We have been at the beach during the hottest times and the kids haven't burnt yet. I recommend the ones made by Old Navy. Our boys have had theirs for 3 summers already, so they are well worth the money!! They have lived through the chlorine at the waterslides and endless sand and washes.
If you have room in your vehicle, invest in a bug tent. We bought a large one that fits over a picnic table with room to stand and walk all the way around the table. One year the wasps were so bad, that you couldn't open a bag of chips without a swarm. We lived in the bug tent during meal times and at night when we played cards at the table. I've seen ones that pop up and are smaller as well.
Instead of going through a whole pack of swim diapers, I have learned to pack a few cloth diapers with a plastic Kooshies cover to wear with their swimsuit.
Bring an extra tarp or picnic blanket to lay down somewhere to put toys on. You can't be at the beach ALL day, and the kids will need something safe to do while you're cooking.
I will probably think of a few more ideas after this weekend.