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Tips & Tricks for Tenting with Toddlers & Tweens

Published Jul 27, 2015 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

It is undeniably hard work but tenting will create many memorable moments for your family. We replace our four walls with our plastic cabin - the Coleman eight man tent. Our minivan & cargo carrier are akin to Mary Poppins bag - even our friends are aghast at how much "things" they can store.

The Essentials of Tenting

I have listed below what I feel are essential items for the avid camper.  I have fine-tuned this over the last two summers and I am always learning from others. It is not exhaustive but it is pretty good if I do say so myself!

Tote with kitchen items such as: 

  • Plates/Bowls/cups/cutlery

  • Insulated cups with lids

  • Vegetable peeler/Tin opener/Bottle opener (Do not forget)/Sharp knife/scissors/wooden spoon/fish slicer

  • Pots/pan/wok/Foil Trays

  • Toaster

  • Kettle

  • Kitchen paper/Tinfoil/Plastic wrap

  • Wash Basin/Washing up liquid/sponge/cloths/teacloths

  • Plastic Salad bowl & Servers

  • Roasting sticks

  • Chopping board

Two Cooler Boxes & Tote/Bags to store Dry Food: 

  • Don’t forget your icepacks and buy ice when you arrive at your campground.  It is worth the few dollars you will pay.

  • Tea/Coffee/sugar

  • Water

  • Salt and Pepper

  • Oil

  • Ketchup/Mayonnaise

  • Bread

  • Milk

  • S’mores Kit

  • Large Marshmallows

  • Whatever you are going to cook for the tenting time and remember all the things you will need in order to cook it as you normally do.


  • Blow up mattress

  • Pump

  • Regular/Blow up pillows

  • Sleeping bags

  • Duvet



Toy Tote: 

The tote can be used to store water and hey presto your kids can play water games.

  • Water guns

  • Frisbee

  • Colouring books

  • Ball Games

  • Stuffies

  • Magnifying glasses

  • Bug Catchers

  • Buckets and Spades

  • Musical instruments

  • Bubbles


  • Swimwear

  • Towels

  • Cosmetics

  • Hats

  • Sunscreen

  • Clothes

  • Diapers/pull-ups/swimmers and wipes

  • Nightwear

  • Clothes and don’t forget pack extra!


  • Stove/Grill combo and portable BBQ with Gas Propane

  • Camping chairs/folding table and water container

  • Radio

  • Washing line

  • Hammock

  • Splitting Axe for logs and small axe for kindle/Fire sticks and you can generally buy wood on the campgrounds

  • Garbage bags

  • Picnic Table cloth and grips

  • lantern for inside the tent and LED flashlights

  • Oh and don’t forget your tent……you might need it. We use a tarp under our tent.  Additionally we bought heavy duty pins in Canadian tire to tie our tent down.  You will need a tool to remove these from the ground.

The Challenges & Tips To Overcome

Our First

Our first camping experience was two summers ago.  Our three kids ranged in age from 3 ¾ to just six months old and I was still expressing! As D-day loomed I realized what I had agreed to do and questioned my sanity for the millionth time.  How was I going to express my baby’s milk and how in God’s name was I going to sterilize his bottles?!  When we arrived to the campground our great friends had already pitched their spare tent for us, little halos shone brightly over their heads.  I wanted to kiss their feet but I am not that into feet!  Their friends had a trailer with full power which meant that our problems were solved.  An extension cord meandered from their trailer to our plastic cabin and viola a life sustaining liquid was produced.  We had a really amazing experience that weekend and it made us thirsty for more.

Keep Warm

On our second camping trip which took place in June 2014 I packed sleeping bags for the kids and a quilt for myself and my hubby.  It was a beautiful day but boy did it get cold that night.  As my husband was outside socializing at the fire pit I was indoors or within the plastic sheeting using my three kids as human shields from the cold.  I had one on top of me and one on either side and I was still cold! I knew then I needed to fatten them up a tad.  I kindly left my husband a kids Diego Sleeping bag.  Even as I write this over twelve months later, the memories of watching him trying to get into it are making me crease with laughter.  I can now admit that I was going to ask my husband to drive us home to the comforts of our home and the plan was to drive back in the early hours of the following morning before anyone would get up and our secret would be safe.  I decided to battle the elements.  You learn from your mistakes.  I now pack sleeping bags and a duvet cover for Mommy and Daddy and all kids have very warm sleeping bags in addition to hats and gloves.  We will never be cold camping AGAIN.

Geographically Challenged

I could get lost in a circle as they say.  I am 100% geographically challenged, even so in a camp site.  I find that when I go camping my bladder starts to speed up and I have to go to the loo very regularly.  That’s ok at home but on a campsite, it’s not quite the same.  On one of our trips last year my friend accompanied me to the smelly pit, I mean toilet and on our way back under the dark sky we laughed and joked about our day.  Suddenly we came to a dead end on the road.  Ahem where in God’s name where we?  We had passed our site unbeknownst to ourselves but in the black dark with a giant torch which emitted a tiny bit of light, it was a tad scary.  Luckily my husband had seen us continue our walk from the fire pit and rescued us.  We have now invested in high tech LED torches which could light up a stadium and I pay attention to where our site is located!

Netflix No No’s

Learn from my mistakes, be careful what you watch on Netflix before you camp.  I recommend that you DON’T watch Great Crimes and Trials before embarking on a journey.  You won’t feel too safe as you sleep with a piece of plastic separating you and all the ghastly things which you have added to your mind.  Additionally it will not make those regular trips to the toilet any more pleasant. 


Bring plenty of clothing for you and your kids.  My youngest contracted the Rotavirus last year, we were camping and he kept vomiting.  It was horrible.  We didn’t realize how ill he was as I had taken him to the doctor the morning we left and the Doctor told me it was probably “viral”! 

Towel improvisation

On a recent camping trip I was in much need of a shower! No AC in our plastic cabin and the sun was creating temperatures in the early 30’s. Off I skipped with my washbag in hand. Warm water trickling over my amazing body (couldn't resist) ….shoot....double shoot I forgot my towel!! Argh!!!! Clever little goddess that I am I improvised with a ......face cloth. So absorbent. Note to self! Ensure to bring a body sized face cloth next time!!!!! Learn from my lunacy.


One of our favourite destinations so far is Whistler Campground in Jasper National park.  As we drive through the gates of this amazing National Park I feel the weight of the world has lifted off my shoulders and I can’t get enough of the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  I love it.  We have seen mountain goats, squirrels aplenty, Moose, Deer and Elk and unfortunately on our recent return home we saw a bear cub who had been knocked down.  This is not the way I had wanted to see a Canadian Bear.  I kept thinking about that poor Momma Bear searching for her cub. 

Spray Parks & Playgrounds

Prior to having my kids I spent a fair chunk of my life in a Pub.  I’m Irish and we have a very strong bond with “the Local”.  Pregnancy changed that love affair and my new BFF was a bubble bath.  Kids came along and now I am living the dream driving to the local playgrounds in the Minivan.  If your kids are anything like mine, all they want in this great world of ours is a playground. If you take them to a Spray Park, they may actually explode with happiness.  When you go camping ensure you have one or the other or better still BOTH.  On a recent trip to West cove in St. Paul my kids informed me that the highlight of their trip was the Spray Park.  To be perfectly honest, I was very happy to see it as it was a weekend where temperatures soared in the 30’s.

Fire Pit Conversations

Ah the fire pit to me is now the new pub.  My husband and I love the pit.  He likes to poke it and I like to sit by it with a drink in hand solving world problems.  Even better add a few friends and the hours fly by and before you know it it is 3:30 in the morning and you are still up (you won’t get away with this in every campground).


We tend to go camping with one other family and generally the duration is two nights.  We take one night’s supper and leave supper for evening number two to our rival chefs.  It is a great way of getting a break but also learning from others and showcasing your culinary skills.  Up until recently we have a Coleman Grill/burner.  We just bought a portable BBQ which was half price in Canadian Tire.  It will be well used.


You will need a lot of “stuff” for camping.  My advice is to keep an eye out for sales especially in Canadian Tire.  This is where we have bought a lot of our camping equipment in addition to Costco.  Join local Facebook Buy and Sell groups and attend Garage sales and of course don’t forget good old Kijiji.

Tent Position

I recently joked with my husband about the time he spent on positioning our palace.  I am a "let’s get it up pronto" kind of girl.  My husband stood in the forest working out his longitude and latitude and after careful and time-consuming consideration our weekend home was pitched.  In fairness to him we didn’t die from heat exhaustion the next morning, it was positioned perfectly.  Unfortunately as with all our camp trips, the AC never quite kicks in, no idea why?



We love camping and it is such a reasonable way of spending your summers (average site costs about $30 a night) and you are creating so many happy memories for your kids and you. I have really enjoyed writing this blog and I want to say Happy Camping to you all.


  • Never a dull moment in my house

  • & keep sane!

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