Scratching, bashing, dropping, and crashing. These are just parts of the life of boys. Very little is held in stasis and even less is left unscathed. Unless you plan to live in a monastery, it’s only natural. It’s all part of the learning process.

Extremely awesome family camping.

One of the best ways to keep the house safe is to get the boys out of the home. Not every outing with the boys is a voyage. Sometimes it's nice to be able to take short camping trips with adventurous little jaunts. And what better sort of jaunt than a hike to a lake for a picnic?

Extremely awesome family camping.

When it’s just me, there isn't much to pack. A protein bar or two and water. But when it comes to the boys, I have to diversify and keep things nutritious. This means a wider range of food which just has to stay separated or god knows Some Boy will not touch it.

Make it easy to keep track of food while camping with labeled food containers.

Chelsea picked up some neat food containers which are perfect for picnics. Then, she turned to our sponsor Sharpie and their new Sharpie Extreme to label each container neatly. Sharpie Extreme has high-contrast ink that resists fading when exposed to harsh conditions like UV rays, snow, rain and mud. With that taken care of, my job was just to get them there. I even threw in a compass and binoculars to spark some imagination and for the boys to play with.

Extremely awesome family camping.

We darted off down the dirt path and made sure to keep a special eye out for rattlesnakes. Those little critters “make big ouchies!” I have to say I really enjoy Some Boy and Sidekick’s interpretations of park rule signs. Some Boy pulls Sidekick aside and I listen as he tells his little brother that there are no dogs allowed (correct), we can’t go swimming (yep), and we are not allowed to leave our toys on the ground (eh…no littering, but close enough).

Extremely awesome family camping.

Through the brush we pressed on. Each of the boys had their own starter adventure pack to carry with them. Chelsea drew themed pictures to match the day's events and help our kids keep their stuff separate. “Can we have a camp fire, dada?” Someboy asked. “Hmm…maybe later” I teased.

Extremely awesome family camping.

Finally, we reached the water's edge and I offloaded my pack. After a much-needed duck-counting session and solo row boat race (they’re all racing, don’t you know) we worked up the appetite. The funny thing is this: no matter where we are – home or on a picnic – carrots aren’t very popular. So it was chicken, strawberries, a little chocolate desert for us…and biscuits for the ducks.

Extremely awesome family camping.

With the sun settling in for bed just over the horizon, we headed off for our own. There is nothing like the subtle crackle of a fire just feet from your own tent door as the light of day fades into memory. Making it even better, little mugs of hot chocolate specially marked for each boy helped get us through the transition. The Sharpie Extreme markers made tired and dirty little hands a non-issue. Those special little sayings hold strong trip after trip.

Extremely awesome family camping.

With tiny celestial bodies softly lighting the night and drifting slowly through the night sky, the boys laughed and played around the fire and tent. Unlike the art Chelsea drew with her Sharpie Extremes, their energy faded almost as slowly as the moon moved through the sky. Sure enough, though, their heads became heavy and were laid on their pillows for a long night of sleep before our early-morning campsite wakeup call known as the toddler.

DIY customized camping mug

How do you make family camping trips awesome?