Janine Pettit and family

Expert Advice

Three Generations of Happy Campers

Janine Pettit, creator of Girl Camper, shares her tips for RVing with three generations. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind while traveling with young children, middle-aged, and senior adults.

One of the thrills of grandparenting is sharing what you love with your grandchildren. I have long imagined the day when I could tote a grandbaby along on a camping trip and watch the delight in their eyes as they take in all the new surroundings. I have dreamed of tad pole filled creeks, turning over moss covered rocks to discover what lives beneath, hikes to grand summits, lunches in soft meadows and nights by crackling fires. My dreams came true in March of 2022 when sweet Marie entered our world and her adventurous parents said yes to her first campout in October. Although not old enough for hiking or toe dipping in mysterious waters, I was so surprised at the wonder she exhibited in the nature surrounding her. She’s a suburban apartment kid without a backyard so all the sights and sounds were so new to her. There was a lot of looking up at swaying and rustling trees. I saw a budding adventurer crawling across the camp mats picking at sticks and leaves and discovering things. Isn’t this why we take our kids outdoors/ We had so much fun camping as a multi generation family that I decided to upgrade my beloved Hideout for a bunk model. The bunks will allow each of us to have our own dedicated bed and a good night’s sleep means a good next day. I can’t wait for the 2023 camping season and all the memories waiting to be made.

Tips for camping with young kids

Keep them warm. Our first trip was in mid-October and it was chilly out. Just like adults they need some layers as well as a hat they can’t easily get off. They are not as likely to generate as much body heat as an active adult so layer up the socks too.

Have a way to corral them. At very young ages you need to keep eyes on them at all times and there are great freestanding play yards out there to create a play space that is safe. Set up the portable fencing on a camping mat and minimize what they might discover on the ground and try to eat. A smaller pack and play will work just as well.

Have pint size chairs and table. We missed the ball on this one and spent the whole weekend taking turns making sure she didn’t fall off the picnic table.  We improvised and made do with an old-fashioned laundry basket around the campfire, and she loved it but there are great little chairs for little people with built in trays and stable feet.

Let them lead the way. One of the fun parts of grandparenting is just letting it unfurl.There’s a temptation to want to ‘show’ and ‘teach’ everything but there is something so valuable in letting them show you what piques their interest. Marie laid in my lap for the longest time and I watched her eyes follow the sway of the tall trees in the breeze.

Bring a few toys from home. They are still going to need familiar things and you’re going to want those ‘go to’ things that you know will keep them engaged when all else fails. We don’t have to be pioneers making ragdolls from cornhusks on the spot. It’s okay to mix nature with store bought.  

Nature protection. Babies still need protection from sun and bugs and you will have to be supplied with sunblock and tick protection. The campground we were at is a known tick magnet and we sprayed the mats with natural herbal remedies and kept her skin covered. A tick check at night revealed no hijackers.

Janine Pettit

Girl Camper

Janine Pettit is a lifelong lover of camping who took a 25 year sabbatical when she married a “resort” type guy! She discovered that camping was still in the cards for her when she stumbled onto an article about a women’s outdoor adventure group that travels around the country in RVs, meeting new friends, checking off bucket list adventures and doing things she had only dreamed of. Janine has become an Ambassador for the Girl Camping movement and encourages women to go places and do things in her blog and podcast.