If you follow our Facebook page, you know that a couple of weeks ago, we (as a family) took our first camping trip.
It was a lot of fun, but there are some things I learned about camping with a child with special needs.
In fact, I kept a mental list of the things to bring along next time to make the trip more enjoyable for him.
A huge thank you to Toyota for letting us borrow the 2017 Toyota Highlander! You can see a full view of specs on the Toyota Highlander here.
Rubber mallet – Blake was obsessed with the hammer from day 1. We used it to hammer in the stakes and he played with it for hours finding things to smash. (Mostly trees.) I would definitely feel more comfortable with a rubber mallet than a hammer next time!
Swiss Army Knife – Clearly, depending on age and maturity. Blake was allowed to “hold” daddy’s pocket knife in his pocket for hours at a time. He agreed to just carry it and not use it, but I think teaching him safety with a smaller, knife would have done him well and allowed him more things to do. There is always a time for teaching and learning and this would have been a prime opportunity.
Books – Blake brought a book, found a spot in the shade between some trees, sat down and read.
Cards – Bring an extra deck of cards for the kids to play while the adults play. Next time, I will bring extra playing cards and extra Uno cards so the kids can play. Plus, Kadenn learned how to shuffle so extra playing cards are definitely a must.
Shovels and Buckets – Blake loved playing with the rake and the shovel, but unfortunately, they were adult shovels and rakes which made for safety concerns. I’m not saying baby or toddler plastic ones, but something a little safer would have put everyone else at ease and allowed for much more free play time for him.
Fire Starter – Blake showed a real interest in being able to start the fire. Under daddy’s supervision, he did get to light a match to throw in the fire, but again – a great opportunity for teaching and learning with a fire starter.
Remote Control Vehicles – Downfall? Batteries. Upside? Entertainment while the batteries last! But, alas, if you only have one or two and several kids (we had 6 kids) there will be bickering.
Blank paper and coloring supplies – Coloring books were brought, but they did a lot of “exploring” and I think blank paper would have been more fun for him to make maps to their hideouts and “exploration” areas.
Plastic Eggs – The kids found leftover plastic eggs around our campsite from Easter weekend and had fun hiding them and finding them again. This would have made for endless fun if we had more!
Treasure Map – If you are familiar with your campsite prior to going, make a treasure map (or a few) for them to follow. Teach them how to use a compass and bring one with and let them follow your treasure map or let them make their own once they get up there!
Fishing Poles – We took them fishing at the lake which he loved but you know what really provided endless hours of fun with no bickering? Practicing their casting!
Some of our crew hadn’t been fishing and they really need to work on their casting. The dads took off the hooks, added a weight at the end, found some clearing, and let the kids practice their casting.
We didn’t have to worry about losing lures. We didn’t have to worry about anyone getting hooked. It literally provided hours of entertainment. (The repetitiveness of casting, reeling, casting gave them plenty of entertainment!)
Outdoor Games – We brought the velcro mits with the velcro tennis ball to play, but I think having more games such as badmitton, or baseballs and gloves would have helped too. Or even boucning balls (like kick balls) would have provided more fun for him too.
Tools – I really think age appropriate tools that are safer than adult tools would have found endless hours of fun for him too. Destruction (of the dead trees, not living ones or trees that had already fallen over) were a big thing that kept him occupied. Having this to allow him to “explore” these fallen and dead trees even more would have definitely provided him learning and entertainment.
(Just a note to add that where we camped, we were off the grid and in an area that had yet to be cleared out by the Forest Service. Many trees were dead and marked for cutting down and there were many fallen trees from the winter season. We showed the kids the difference between a healthy, still growing tree and dead trees and the difference between saplings and things that were okay to tear apart further. We do not encourage destroying Mother Earth just for fun, but when they are dead, already fallen, and ready for cutting; why confine them?)
All in all, we had a great time and Blake did not seem to have as difficult as a time as I thought. It was the first time we had gone camping so I knew it was a learning curve. (And really, surrounding myself with people who understand us and our situation was my biggest takeaway.)
Have you gone camping with your special needs child before? Did I leave something off the list or you have something that you would add? Let me know in the comment! I will be packing these for next time!