We are a camping family, through and through. We left this summer for just over a month of camping, and have a few more camping trips on the calendar.
I have to admit, though, that I am not currently the type that we pop a tent and sleep on the ground. Not with Kid around. When he's a little older, we will think about it. We have a pop-up camper at our disposal, so we use that instead. We only ever "tented it" when we were backpacking and hiking into far off campsites. Now, we drive up to campgrounds and camp that way. Kid loves it ... he really is a nature boy.
Anything can happen when you're camping. Add a toddler into the mix, and there is a whole new definition to "anything can happen." Be sure to be prepared as possible. Before camping with a child, we always brought along a first aid kit that included Band-Aids, instant cold packs, ointment, your typical first aid kit materials. Since Kid has joined us, we have added Tylenol, a thermometer, a nose aspirator, kid-friendly bug spray and sunscreen, and children's Benadryl.
We are not only prepared with a first aid kit, though. We bring favorite toys, loads of extra clothing, Kid's favorite Little Tykes rocking horse, and plenty of diapers. And food. Food, food, food. Think of everything that could happen at home, and be prepared for it.
Toddlers throw timing and schedules out the window. Especially when they are taken out of their "normal" environment. While we try to keep nap time at the same time, it just doesn't always happen. Being outside is exciting! It may take an extra hour for the kiddo to tire out and fall asleep. Or, they may need to nap an hour or two earlier. Go with it. It will make your camping trip much more enjoyable!
Do What You Have To!
A lot of parents are concerned about creating bad habits. Me, too. But when you're camping? You just have to do what you can to make it work. Kid thinks our camper is pretty awesome. In fact, he has woken up on various nights at three in the morning thinking it's play time. So we did what we had to do to get him back to sleep. Co-sleeping worked in the past, but not this time. So we strapped him into his car seat and drove to town and back. Is this something that we would do while at home? No. Kid loves the car too much as of late. I think he'd want a car ride before bed every night. But to keep our sanity on the campground (and not disturb the other campers, peacefully sleeping)? Drive the car around. Lull him back to sleep. Don't be afraid to "ruin" the child's behavior. Just do what you have to do to keep everyone content, including yourself!