Bucket list/Father’s Day camping trip (with a toddler)

We did it. We went on our first camping trip. With a toddler.

Seven years ago, my husband and I were engaged and creating our wedding registries. One night, a friend and I were having some fun and thought it would be funny to add random items to our Target registry. Enter all things camping (and a wall-mounted fish bowl that a former friend now has in his possession.) We received every single camping item I added to that list. And we had never used it.


(Family selfie! Notice the toddler saying “Cheese!”)

Camping was added to our 2014 Summer Bucket List, and I decided to tie it into Father’s Day weekend (I kept it a secret for as long as possible. I ended up telling my husband about our trip last Wednesday. We left Saturday.) It was only one night, and we were 40 minutes from home. We stayed at Jellystone Park in Marion (a Yogi Bear-themed camping resort) and the toddler had a blast.


My husband and I didn’t have an awful time either. 😉 We didn’t think to bring a hammer or mallet (so we were very grateful for our camp neighbors who loaned us one.) And we didn’t set up the tent before we went. We just prayed we would get it up and all of the parts would be there.

There was no wi-fi, or cell phone service for that matter. We were shut down for 18 hours. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was pretty cool to just turn my phone to airplane mode (to keep the battery from draining) and lock it in the car for the day/night.


Lucas did NOT sleep well, and we had a few meltdown moments. He also only took a 40 minute nap on Saturday afternoon. That said, he had so much fun swimming. His Puddle Jumper life jacket is so perfect (a last-minute purchase on my part) and now all he wants to do is “swim with feet.” Meaning: He wants to kick (like he was taught in swim lessons last year) and he wants to do it all by himself. This life jacket is going to be a game changer this summer!



And swimming is exhausting.


He ate his first s’more this past weekend, and my husband taught him to eat Cheerios with milk. (He’s only had dry Cheerios – and he normally has oatmeal or eggs for breakfast.) Life lessons were learned, y’all.



My husband apparently had a good enough time that he wants to go camping again. And I’m sure we’ll go camping again. Just maybe not this summer. I’m still tired.

Have you ever attempted camping with kids? Young kids? What are your tips?


  1. says

    Looks like y’all had a blast! I just borrowed a friend’s puddle jumper for Lillie this past weekend – and yes, total game changer!

  2. says

    He did pretty darn well for his first time out, don’t you think? And what is it about swimming that is so exhausting? It just drains you!

  3. says

    You are a very brave mama!! The thought of camping scares me, much less with a toddler, but it looks like he had a blast. I love his expression while he eats the smores!

  4. says

    Now that’s a great way to spend time with your family! I’m sure that you all had a great time together. It’s really wonderful to do new things and gain fresh experiences out of it. :)

  5. says

    Let’s just say you are braver than I. I will not camp with the boys, not yet. My oldest and only daughter? sure, maybe someday. With Aj being on the spectrum, I am pretty sure the change in routine in camping may not go over well, but we are working with him and he’s getting better about some planned routine changes. I have not yet dared this, but hopefully some day I will! Glad you survived, and love all of the pictures!

  6. says

    Funny that you said something about registering for camping stuff. We did the same thing- we received a 7 person tent for a wedding gift and we have yet even get it out of the box!

  7. Pam says

    Sounds like you had a good experience even if you are exhausted. I did take my kids camping when they were young and they had a great time. We just made sure that they had air mattresses to sleep on and they were happy.

  8. says

    It sounds like you guys had a ball despite a few toddler meltdowns. We have yet to go camping with the boys for that very reason, but I think we’re about to the point where we want to go. Todd and Brooks have camped, but Mommy and the little one have not been yet. We shall see…

  9. says

    I like sometimes too when the Internet is unable to be accessed (after the initial panic of course). I’m loving the pictures. And wanting some Smores. :)

  10. Angela S says

    One camping trip per summer is enough for me too. LOL I’m glad you had a good time in spite of a few toddler meltdowns.

  11. says

    What a neat campground! I love that they had so much to do. We are heading to South Dakota next month. I may be a week without wifi. I’m looking forward to it!

  12. says

    We have not really camped with our kids yet. I am not a big outdoorsy person, the closest we got was on the football field for Relay for Life LOL

  13. teresa mccluskey says

    I have two little ones ages two and three they are 18 months apart! So my hands would be full as could be!!

  14. says

    we camp w/friends w/kids & the more they do it the better they get. just always bring something from their bed at home.. pillow, pillow case, blankie.. something that smells like home to help w/bedtime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *