Pete and I took C camping recently, and we all survived. We didn’t forget anything (unheard of), the weather was fantastic, we managed to hike 18 kilometres over three days, and most importantly, no one got eaten by a bear (although there was a bear trap set up two campsites away from us!)
So now I feel qualified to offer camping-with-baby tips to others. I’m kidding. Every baby is different, and every camping trip is different. But I did learn a few things on our first trip that could be helpful for anyone contemplating a similar adventure.
1) Bring new toys. Alternatively, take some toys out of rotation for a few weeks before the trip and bust them out at the campsite. I realize that this is a well-known tip, but we forgot to do it so it stands out in my mind as an essential one.
2) Find as secluded a campsite as possible. We were car-camping, but we managed to book a walk-in site that was set back from the road by about 15 metres. That makes a big difference for a baby’s sleep quality.
3) Camp in the radio-free area. These campground areas tend to be a little quieter, though that’s not always the case. For instance, there was a group of three 20-something guys on a site across the road from us who retired to their massive tent at about 6:00 pm one night. They were REALLY loud in there and we couldn’t figure out what was going on, until Pete walked past their site to fetch some water. He came back and told me he thought they were playing Risk in there, because he heard something about a “clean sweep of North America.” Good times.
4) Don’t fall for baby tricks. Our first night, we were worried that the baby wouldn’t sleep well, so we went to bed early. We hunkered down before it was even completely dark out. To our surprise, the baby slept through the night and got up, happy and bright-eyed, at about 7:30 am. Amazing! We decided that she was a natural camper and that we should probably celebrate that fact with a late-night campfire and some drinks. Do you see where this is going? We were up every two hours with her that second night. And she was up for the day at 6:00 am. She won that round. Well played, C.
5) Enjoy the trip for what it is. I used to go on a few interior canoe camping trips every summer. What we did with C in July was very, very different from those portaging trips. But that’s okay. We’ll do those sorts of trips again someday. And then we’ll probably miss these little trips with baby C. It’s amazing to watch a baby experiencing the natural world for the first time.