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Tag Archives: camping with kids

Making the perfect, transportable rope swing

We’ve started  packing our homemade hammock and our rope swing on every campout and day trip. EVERY trip. In fact I tried to get my husband to leave it home a few months ago when we were packing for a trip to the Nevada desert. “Why are you packing these? You’re never going to hang a hammock, let alone a swing in the middle of nowhere.”

I was plesantly proven wrong on both accounts.

Joe has found places for hammocks and swings in just about every campsite we’ve been in this past year. It’s been a blast for the kids, so I asked him to write up a little tutorial on how to make and hang a rope swing.

MAKING YOUR SWING:

We use a disc swing as opposed to a traditional swing because it’s easier to hang. Only having one rope to hang means you don’t have to mess around with getting ropes even.

You can use pretty much any type of wood, as long as it will hold up to having someone sit on it. We’ve used 3/4 inch plywood or 3/4 inch particle board, both worked equally well.

Step 1: Trace the seat onto the wood, a 5 gallon bucket lid is the perfect size. Just set the bucket lid onto the wood and trace a circle around it

Step 2: Using a jig saw or something similar cut out the circle you just traced.

Step 3: Drill a hole in the center. There is probably a good way to find the center of the circle so you can drill a hole exactly centered in the swing but we always just eyeball it and it turns out fine. We use a 1 inch drill bit but a slightly smaller bit would probably work too, depending on the diameter of the rope you plan on using.

Step 4: (Optional) Seal the swing seat with some polyurethane or something like that.

Step 5: Attach a rope. There are two different way to do this pictured to the right.

Swing 1: Using about 6 feet of rope fold it in half, put the ends through the hole and tie a big knot.

Swing 2: Attach a short section of rope (about 3 feet) to the swing by stringing one end of the rope through the hole you just drilled.  Tie a large knot at each end of the rope. Be sure to tie a good knot that will not slip like a figure 8 or similar.

Step 6: On the other end of the rope tie a loop in the rope using a figure 8 or overhand knot (this loop will allow you to attach the swing to a fixed rope with a carabiner).

HANGING YOUR SWING:

I’ve used several types of rope and most work equally well. Static rope (without stretch) is better than dynamic rope (with stretch). In our yard we often use 1 inch tubular webbing because there is very little stretch and it sits flat against the branch so it rubbs less than most ropes.

There are several ways you can get your rope up in a tree:

Method 1 (photo to the right): Our preferred way to hang a rope is to climb the tree and tie the rope to a branch. Tie a loop in one end of the rope with an overhand knot, hang the loop on one side of the branch with the long tail hanging on the other side. Then underneath the branch thread the long tail through the loop and pull it tight. This method seems to secure the swing and minimizes the rubbing of the rope against the branch because the pivot point of the rope is against the loop rather than against the bark of the tree.

Method 2: If you can’t climb the tree, throw one end of a long rope over a branch (photo 1 below) and secure the other end to the base of the tree (photo 2 below).  The downside of this method is you have very little control over the exact location the rope hangs on the branch, and often this method leads to a lot of rubbing of the rope on the tree. Still, it work out fine in a pinch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have your rope up take the dangling end of the rope and tie another loop with an overhand knot and secure your swing to that loop with a carabiner. Depending on how permanent you want your swing to be, you can cut the rope to a desired length or simply tie up any extra rope above the swing.

We often tie several loops at the end of our rope at various heights (like this), the highest one for adults with long legs, a lower loop for middle sized kids, and a low loop for little kids. Then we use a carabiner to attach the swing to the desired loop.

Enjoy!

Our favorite campgrounds in the Western US

Today I’m joining a a group of outdoor bloggers in listing our favorite campgrounds in the US and Canada (be sure to scroll to the bottom to see more lists of great campsites).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a campground kind of girl, but every now-and-then I’ve found myself in a low key backwoods campground where I actually didn’t mind having a few neighbors and sometimes even a bathroom.  Here, in no particular order, are my favorites (in the West, where I’ve most often found myself pitching a tent).

1)  Kodachrome Basin State Park. Cannonville, Utah.

Kodachrome Basin is just outside of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and just down the road from Bryce Canyon National Park. This campground tends to be relatively quiet (as in not a lot of people). They have toilets, showers and picnic tables and quite a few trails (many of which are good for kids). It’s a small park, but very picturesque and it’s close to all sorts of amazing exploring opportunities.

2)  A Campsite near Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.

I have no clue what this the name of this campground is, but I can tell you that it’s between the Cinder Cone trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park and Highway 44. It’s a little Forest Service campground tucked away and apparently not advertised. It’s such a great little spot with big trees, a little stream running by and just a few miles outside of the park. I posted about this trip here.

3)  Coast Camp. Point Reyes National Seashore, California. (more…)

4 Ways to Make Pizza While Camping

As I mentioned last week, it sorta felt like we were short on adults for our camping trip last week. I had a feeling this would be the case so I tried to think up really easy meals.

As I walked past a boboli crust display in the grocery store I got an idea… Turned out it was actually a pretty good idea.  Pizza while camping is totally a lazy man sort of meal.   Also turns out Olivia had a few more lazy-man pizza ideas to add.

All these recipes are similar in that they involve your basic pizza toppings. They differ in that there are 4 different ways you can make the crust depending on how much time you want to put into it.

First some thoughts on a few key toppings. (more…)

Desert camping with an 11-month-old quadruped.

I forgot how hard it is to camp with an semi-mobile infant. They crawl around camp picking up dirt and rocks and sticking it in their mouth. They make attempts to eat rabbit poop and are fascinated by cacti, drop offs and sharp natural objects. I swear Viv’s got to be well on her way to developing a gizzard after last weeks camping trip.

Camping with a crawling baby.

None-the-less we had a great trip last week. We spent  a few days at our vacation home in Southern Utah (aka my parents house) then headed even further south for a little (aka a lot) sun on the Nevada/Arizona boarder. Spring fever is in full swing around here now.

I’ll let the photos do the talking. Happy almost spring everyone.

 

Camping while pregnant; staying comfortable without sacrificing your favorite past time.

Thaleia wrote to us the other week with the following excellent question:

Do you know of any sane pregnant women who tent camp with 3 children ages 3/9/10? Just wanting to find out :). What gear is a must have for comfort?

While we can’t relate directly to this situation, not yet having nine or ten year olds, we can definitely relate to camping, camping with kids, and camping while pregnant!  Between the two of us, these are our suggestions:

1)  Do not sacrifice comfort.  Pack heavy.  Now is not the time for lightweight backpacking or extreme camping.  Pregnant women have a hard enough time being comfortable at home, let alone in the boonies, or in a campground where the only place to sit is a picnic bench or the ground.

  • An extra thick sleeping pad is essential.  If you’ve just won the lottery, or have a rich uncle to help, get a Paco Pad–the luxurious sleeping pads used by river runners who seldom worry about bulk and weight.  Slightly cheaper but also nice is a Big Agnes pad–also bulky, but they combine air chambers with insulation for extra padding… they may even have ones now with padding especially for women with hips.  And if you don’t want to spend that kind of dough either, consider a plain old air mattress.  You may even find  that an air mattress is more comfortable than your bed, depending on the relative squishiness of both!  Three notes:  it will never ever ever fold up as small as when you bought it, and don’t let the dog even sniff at it or it will develop a hole, and finally read the note below about mummy bags–air mattresses can suck the heat out of you!.  Also nice is one of those egg-carton foam pads if you can get your hands on one… or put all three together and sleep like a Princess. (more…)

Packing for a camping trip: Your ultimate guide

When we had our giveaway a few weeks ago one of the most mentioned camping tips was to make some sort of camping box. A large waterproof tote that holds the majority of your camping supplies. The idea behind such a box is that you always have the bulk of your gear packed and ready to go. I could not agree more.

The problem is that it’s hard to keep ALL your camping gear together all the time (because a lot of stuff gets used for day adventures as well).  Some stuff gets put away between adventures, but some stuff we’ve bought two of; it’s worth it to buy an extra set of supplies and make a kit that ALWAYS stays together.

I’ve already done posts that list out all the items needed to make:

  1. Mobile kitchen: a bin that houses all our cooking essentials and a few other odds and ends.
  2. Mini Survival kit:  a go-everywhere kit with random survival and medical supplies (although we still also bring a larger first aid kit).

You can also easily make dedicated camping kits for personal hygiene and dog supplies (see lists below).

To make packing the rest of the gear easier, we try to keep most if it together. We turned a corner of our garage, and a corner of our guest room closet into ‘gear closets’.  They house the aforementioned camping kits, as well as our sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tent, tarp, climbing/kayaking gear, backpacks etc. When it’s time to pack, everything is easy to find.

When preparing for a camping trip we throw our mobile kitchen and survival kit in the van and use the checklist below (download a PDF of this Ultimate Camping Checklist here) to gather/remember everything else. (more…)

Your Best Camping Tips (and the winner is…)

Lets get right to it. The winner (chosen by random.org) of the $50 REI gift certificate is LAUREN!! Congratulations!

Her best camping tip:

I have to agree with those who mentioned “the bin” system. I live by it. It makes camping life so much easier. But, a tip of my own… frisbees make great plates and obviously provide other fun functionality as well, and always have duct tape on you… whether car camping or backpacking. It’s easy to have a bit of it wrapped around your water bottle or stashed and it almost always comes in handy. I mean, what can’t you fix with duct tape? :)

Now for a roundup of YOUR BEST CAMPING TIPS:

Note: Some comments were combined and most have been shortened, for details on these ideas read through the comments on this post.

1. Create “The Bin”, The Bin (a rain proof tote) has everything you need for your camping trip with mini-bins inside separating your camp area essentials (make two: one for backpacking, car camping, etc.).

2. Go often. The more often you go, the easier it is to actually get out the door because you have to establish some sort of a routine to actually get out the door!

3. Glowsticks and headlamps for kids. Makes them easier to spot in the dark, plus makes the dark that much more fun.

4. Simplifying your meals and prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

5. When camping with kids, go with another family. Everything seems a little more manageable when there are more hands on deck.

6. We have a list that we print out before every camp trip so we don’t forget anything. We have a specific list for camping near water, in the mountains, or backpacking. (more…)

Camping and the art of kid cleanliness

Keeping kids clean while camping.

It’s been said that one of the major obstacles of camping with kids is how to clean them up at the end of the day. While I don’t have any magic formula for keeping kids from getting dirty when camping (since playing in the dirt is kind of the point) I have learned a thing or two about cleaning them up so you don’t have to put a filthy kid to bed in the tent.

Usually you can get away with a simple wash down, #1 or #4. But then there are those occasions when your child’s skin color has changed dramatically, they stink, and/or they have sand and poofy dirt in places that just seem uncomfortable. This may or may not take a few days to accumulate. For those occasions you may need to bust out #2 , #3 or #4. (more…)

Nancy: Adventure. Exhausting, but Worth it.

I grew up camping quite a bit with my five siblings and my parents.  I remember splashing in creeks, going on hikes and bike rides, rigging up rope swings, making huts, catching snakes and cramming into a tent when the sun went down.  I look back on these memories with great fondness, and I know this must be why I seek out the same opportunities for my own children.

HOWEVER, I realize now, with only two small boys, how challenging it must have been for my mother to keep six of us (three girls and three boys) semi-clean, fed, happy, and on the radar.  I was curious to see how she did it.  Never, in all the many times that we went camping, did it occur to me that she was looking forward to the drive home more than she was the next round of freeze-tag-in-the-cactus-patch.

Why did she do it?  Why did she take us again and again when it was so exhausting?  I found the answer inspiring, and I think it might appeal to my readers who don’t naturally take to the idea of sleeping on the hard ground and taking baby-wipe-showers.

I am thankful everyday that my Mother (and Father) created for us the opportunities to experience the outdoors, no matter how hard it was on her, and I appreciate her optimistic outlook, always willing to go along for the adventure. So, it is with great honor that I present to you, an interview with MY very own OutsideMom.

(more…)

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    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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