The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends

July 8th, 2014 by Dionna | 14 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Eclectic Learning, Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature, natural parenting

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Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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camping with friends

Tom and I grew up camping with family and friends, and we want to share that experience with Kieran and Ailia. But camping with kids, particularly kids preschool-age and younger, can be challenging. You have to keep an eye on kids out in unfamiliar surroundings, all while taking care of camp needs. Pitching a tent? No problem! Pitching a tent with a toddler intent on “helping”? A little bit harder.

So we decided to make our first experiences camping as pleasant and easy as possible – we planned to camp with friends. Honestly, after camping with friends the past two trips, I don’t think I ever want to do it alone! We’ve had a blast, the kids have loved it, and we have never left feeling particularly stressed out.

Here are some of the reasons we love camping with friends. Add your own ideas in the comments!

1. Meal plan together and save time on food prep.

There are so many ways you can meal plan together to save on food preparation. Have one family bring main courses, the other bring all of the sides plus breakfasts; or have each family plan one full day of meals (enough for several families to share). Get creative and make life easier!

2. Save wood; share a fire.

Related to making meal prep easier, share a fire. Making and tending a fire is a lot of work, so take turns!

3. Pitch in.

Food isn’t the only thing that can take a lot of time; extra hands can make lighter work in every aspect of camping. Our last camping trip was a mom/kids camp, and I had three other moms helping me get the tent up. I would have never been able to do it alone, but we managed – without the instructions!

4. Split expenses.

Camping is so much cheaper than renting a hotel room, but some sites are pricier than others. Many campgrounds allow campers to put up more than one tent per site. Or you can even share a tent – we shared with our friends in our mom/kids camp. You can also split the cost of firewood and other park fees.

5. Kids stay occupied.

Number of times my children complained of boredom while camping with friends: 0

Number of times I had to go looking for my children who were having too much fun to respond to my calls: 3,593

This is arguably the best part of camping with friends.

6. Group activities.

There are some things that are simply better with a group of friends, whether it’s singing around the camp fire or playing a game of Marco Polo in the lake. On our first group camp, we had a great group geocache hunt.

7. Bond in a new environment.

Both you and your kids will have a chance to strengthen friendships outside of houses and video games and TV and all of the humdrum normality of everyday life. Take advantage of it!

8. Discover new avenues for play.

Along with the new environment and reduced access to everyday toys and electronics, your kids will create new games and themes for play. Kieran and his friends started playing a real life Minecraft – taking an electronic love and placing it squarely into the outdoors. I love the creativity!

9. Peace of mind.

Finally, since you’ll have extra adults around, you’ll have more peace of mind letting your kids roam wild and free in unfamiliar territory, and you’ll have extra eyes and hands in case of an emergency.

Have you ever camped with friends? Did you find that it made life easier?

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Smores Photo Credit: Adapted with permission from Ellie via Flickr Creative Commons

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia’s Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don’t take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don’t just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you’re a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki’s post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our “Western Adventure” — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look “picture perfect” to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan’s recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers “behind the scenes” so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family’s new “beach house”!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier – and your kids happier – and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won’t make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents’ station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!

14 Responses to:
"The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends"

  1. Jessica   crunchychewy

    This is a great and inspiring post! We camped once solo and the kids loved it, but it was stressful and not to be repeated. The food thing is what has kept me from wanting to camp with friends. We will always be gluten-free, which is limiting enough if people want their regular pancakes or pasta, but for 2 years I was even grain-free and it’s just kind of hard! Plus I’m pretty much incapable of eating (and digesting) while distracted, so social eating is rough on me.

    And everyone wants to do s’mores, and I just really wish my kids could live a marshmallow-free life. The ones I’ve made myself haven’t turned out super great, and it’s a lot of effort. We did one trip with a Navigators group (a co-ed scout alternative), and my son loved that. That made it clear to me how far friends will take you! I am glad you’ve had such great experiences and hope I will get it together to make more memories like this for my kids! Thanks for sharing.

    • We have food sensitivities, too, but we’re definitely more lax about it than your family is. That being said, most of my friends are very accepting of and accommodating to those with food allergies – I bet you could work something out with good friends :) Good luck!!

  2. Erica @ ChildOrganics   ChildOrganics

    I love camping, especially with friends! We are taking a camping trip this weekend with some friends. Your article has me really excited about it. Yay!

  3. lydia larae   LydiaLarae

    These are great tips. Love the idea of going camping with a group of friends. I agree that being out is such a good way to play (and learn!).

  4. Whoa! We’ve never really considered camping with anyone. I will definitely put that on my list, especially with the advantages you’ve highlighted! :)

  5. Laura   beansprouthair

    We always camped with a group growing up! We usually went to the sand dunes in Michigan and yes… those extra hands sure were helpful!

  6. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    I love this idea! We’ve always camped alone, but I can totally see the benefits of sharing. I especially love the idea of our kids having playmates in the woods.

  7. Caroline   stoneageparent

    Most of our camping trips since we have had children have either been on our own or with members of the extended family. Which has the great benefit of giving our children chance to bond with their Uncles. Having read this post we will definitely have to make more effort to get our friends with young children to join us on our camping adventures.

  8. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.   lauriehollmanphd

    Laurie at Parental Intelligence
    It’s wonderful that you have such good friends to share your vacation with. Sounds like a great time.

  9. Doña Bumgarner   nurturedmama

    I so agree! Since my daughter was born, most of our camping has been at music festivals, which is caping with friends x10 (sometimes x100). Last time we camped it was just us three and I couldn’t believe how much harder it was!!

  10. Tat   muminsearch

    Can I add to this – you’re less likely to change your mind and not go? We’ve been planning to go camping for ages and something always come sup. Must enlist some friends to keep us accountable. It’s in the middle of winter here, though, I’ll wait until it gets warmer.

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