Dear Mountain Mama,

Last night I saw just a few fireflies blinking and it struck me that summer is coming to an end. Along with smelling honeysuckle, hearing crickets, and eating wild blackberries, sleeping under the stars is one of my summer time favorites.

The only thing keeping me from packing up the car is my baby girl. Have you ever taken an infant camping? Is camping worth the extra effort? And do you have any tips to share?

Yours,

Craving Tent Time

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Dear Craving Tent Time,

Of course you’re craving tent time. Just because you became a parent, doesn’t mean that you should stop doing the things you love. Besides, taking your baby camping will serve her well later in life.

Our children watch us closely. If we want them to spend time outdoors, we have to do the same. If we believe free time should be spent hiking up mountains, kayaking down rivers, and splashing about in creeks, then we need to show our kids our values by living them. By our example, we present our children with a version of adult life that is fun and worth following.

When my son was nine months old, I wondered whether it was worth the effort to take him camping. People told me to take a portable playpen, a stroller, a baby backpack, a highchair, toys, and extra clothes. The thought of having to pack all this extra gear seemed daunting. And then there was the tent setting up part. In the end, I threw my camping bin, a baby carrier, diapers and clothes, a cooler, and infant bug spray and sunscreen into my truck. That was it.

When it comes to camping with small ones, I personally live by the motto “less is more.” Who needs toys when there’s dirt to eat and tarps to crinkle? My motto not only applies to camping gear, but also to activities once you arrive at the campground. My son and I didn’t go on long hikes. Strolls around the campground visiting with other campers provided plenty of entertainment. Our biggest adventure was splashing in a small creek one afternoon.

It took extra work to take my boy camping. He cried on the way there. I wondered, is this worth it? I struggled to hold him while putting up the tent. I wondered, is this worth it? I felt like I was constantly taking leaves and sticks and ashes out of his mouth. I wondered, is this worth it?

But when I look back at the pictures of his filthy face, giggling face poking out of the tent, I know the answer is yes, every time.

Craving Tent Time, go out there and get your camping fix. Even if your baby girl doesn’t remember this trip, she’ll look back at the photos of her camping as a baby and know that sleeping in a tent is something she does.

Enjoy!

Mountain Mama