This is not one of those gigantic lists of things you need to pack in order to survive a camping trip with your baby or toddler. Those lists definitely have their place on the internet, I know, because I have Googled them myself many times. I’m sure my own list of must-have baby carriers and traveling hacks will be joining the ranks someday, but not today.
Instead, this is the list you would get if you asked my two year old, because we have been home for two weeks and I still haven’t heard the end of her top five!
Please Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you click through to shop using the links I provide, I get kicked a few cents from the sale. BUT, I myself didn’t actually choose the products. My two year old did, and I thought I would write about them to let you know your child might think they are pretty cool too. My opinions will always be mine… and okay, a little bit my toddler’s… because let’s face it, she owns me.
Little Fish has been camping since she was two months old, but this was her first trip where she was old enough to really up the verbiage and tell us what she wants. Every night after dinner when it was time to settle down around the campfire, she knew exactly what she wanted: Mystical Fire, or in her words, “Magic Fire!”
We tossed a few packets into the fire and watched the flames turn into a mesmerizing mixture of blue…purple…green…magenta – Guys, if a mermaid’s hair were to glow, this would be it. Really beautiful, and lasted quite a while longer than I expected too!
Just FYI, there are warnings all over the packets to keep out of the reach of children, do not eat, etc. I’m generally wary of products that contain toxic chemicals, but once I stepped back and figured you know…it’s vacation and I am allowed to chill out sometimes… this stuff was a hit for the whole family. We just made sure to follow the directions carefully and we were fine. Get all your s’mores and hot dogs cooked first, because you don’t want the chemicals in it mixing with your food.
I honestly don’t know if I have ever seen more joy on my kid’s face. Truly.
Little Fish perched on my lap focused on a point AWAY from the fire, watching with anticipation as her uncle launched a bright blue light 100+ feet into the deep night of a New Moon sky. Little Fish would light up with a giant grin and say, “LOOK!” pointing up with her tiny finger; each time just as exciting as the last. A little shift of the hips as everyone gazed upward, watching the toy float down like a little helicopter out of the sky. All the while Little Fish happily wiggling on my lap while her cousins scrambled with flashlights to retrieve the fallen Rocket Copter. In the quiet moments in between each launch, as the excitement came tumbling down, all one could hear is an innocent voice victoriously cry, “AGAIN!”
This is not only something she still talks about, but a precious memory for me. Definitely on the list for repeat next year.
Remember, she is two, you guys. But heck, I’m thirty-two and these were still worth noting.
Every night after dinner by the lake, actually, more like DURING dinner, the requests for “marshmeadows” would begin. I must have been living under a rock, too, because I had no idea that Kraft makes Jumbo Mallows. These guys are almost the size of my palm, and just make the whole S’more experience that much more delightful and fun.
While her cousins readied their graham crackers and chocolate, Little Fish was perfectly content to chew on her own giant puff of sugar and fluff (with a few stolen nibbles from mom as well).
Two weeks home and I still get asked for marshmallows around dinnertime. I get a little sad and wish we were back at the campground. Although, I did recently see Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows by Kraft … (!!!) Has anyone tried them??? Are they yummy? I say Fall is just around the corner… HELLO bonfires and pumpkin s’mores!
Little Fish has two fishing poles. One is for real fishing in the lake (seen here), and one is a toy pole with those magnetic fish she can catch in a bucket when there is no grown up on-hand who is particularly ready and willing to deal with the whole line-hook-worm-turned-squirmy-fish situation. We brought the Shakespeare Princess rod just to kind of feel out whether or not she would even be interested in the act of casting from the shore, but she was actively asking to go on the boat and fish, so we gave it a try!
She actually caught THREE real “little fish” on our trip with her little Shakespeare Disney Princess pole! All of the fish were released soon after they were caught. Thank goodness too. In the back of my mind there was definitely that nagging thought that I wanted her to experience the excitement of catching the fish, but I wasn’t quite ready for the life and death lesson that would come with a fish swallowing a hook beyond remedy. Guess I lucked out this time!
Bottom line, if you are ready to stomach possible fish guts (yeah, I said it), but you are not sure if your toddler is ready to fully appreciate the fishing experience, my little one was super stoked by the whole event. We strapped her in her life jacket, rode on a little boat, and when she caught her fish she erupted into clapping and cheering, followed by blatant curiosity and an urgent need to “touch fish,” ….Times like this is when I feel it is my duty to dust off the old teacher hat and turn this into a impromptu science lesson. What comes out of my mouth? “Ooooooohhh SLIMMMYYYY!” Eh, good enough.
5. Okay, Not a Camping Buy but…
A Bald Eagle!
All the time spent toddler-wrangling, planning, paying and packing are made worth it by moments like this in the wild.
Warm sun on our shoulders. Breathing the clean air far from the city. Cool water lapping at our legs as we float on a lake surrounded by hills and trees as far as one can see.
Watching in awe as this majestic bird with a dark chocolate body and striking white head and tail feathers circles above us.
Proud. Free. Priceless. I mean come on, look at that face:
None of us have stopped talking about it. Most definitely worth noting, and one of the reasons I created Open Air Mom…Because somewhere deep down inside of us, we all live and yearn for moments like this… especially for our kids.
Thanks for reading! Have you been camping with your toddler lately? What are they still talking about?
– Open Air Mom