Lately, I’ve been thinking about camping in the winter. It might sound like a crazy idea, challenging and, well, cold, but if you love camping why not take it another step further and try it in the winter? For me, camping means time and space for my family to be with one another and bond without the distractions of work, schedules, and the technological mind-prison we all seem to live in now. Sleeping under the open sky is a good reminder of just how big the universe is— there’s no telescope on earth powerful enough to see its full extent. Experiencing that kind of enormity is such a great way to shift your perspective on everyday anxieties and bring you back down to earth to be with your kids.
The central bonding place of any good campsite, in any season, is the campfire. But in winter the campfire becomes even more important because it’s essential for warmth and it encourages physical closeness. I imagine my family gathered, huddled, around the campfire that we’ve built together on our winterized campsite, to keep warm— there we talk together and laugh, cook over it, and take pleasure in small things like sipping on a hot drink or cooking a hotdog on a stick for dinner. What a way to be together and connect for a few moments, and what a way to make memories for the kids!
So, rather than seeing winter weather as an obstacle to our outdoor adventures, we could look at the challenges winter weather brings and use it as an opportunity to have a new kind of fun in the outdoors. But the challenges of winter camping, I am learning in my research, means preparation. In the winter there’s a few must haves, like an all seasons tent. Finding the right sleeping bag (they are available in kids sizes for outside temperatures as low as sub 15 degrees F) is a must. Good gloves and shoes are essential, too. Using a camping mat between the cold ground and the sleeping bag will also keep you warmer. Also important? Layers. Make sure you have layers warm enough for outside play and toasty enough for sleeping. The key is getting the base, the next to skin layer, from head to toe, just right (I recommend Ella’s Wool super soft, merino wool base layer for kids).
It will get dark early out there in winter, but here’s hoping a warm, early night cuddling up with the kids, maybe even in a family sleeping bag (they exist!), without the regular distractions, you find yourself happily waking with the rising sun!
How lucky we are to live on this beautiful planet.