Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram. The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids because we car camp and do day trips up river a couple of portages.  

We've taken this exact canoe/camping trip three times now. (Elsa was 3 the first time!) This year was our first with 2 canoes and the first time Grandpa joined us since the boys only trips from when Sam started going to the BWCA when he was seven. It was starting to get pretty crowded with FIVE of us in one canoe! 

Speaking of is our 'new' one - she is older than I am, but nothing beats a Grumman! Wait...I take that back - everything beats an aluminum canoe in the weight department.

Enter the Spring Creek Manufacturing portage yoke. Brian portaged 8 times one day and was still smiling thanks to the great portage yoke that doubles as a middle canoe seat. 

They are a Minnesota company too which is pretty sweet for us!

Along with the highlights from day 3 I thought I'd share some of the uncommon things we pack to keep the non fishermen content for hours on/next to the river....

Hiking sticks for Elsa made a HUGE difference in her confidence playing on the rocks and individual bags of Gorp meant they could eat as much as they wanted without cutting into anyone else's portion.

I always bring a book from our Little Free Library along and Julia brings her koi pond fish net with for catching crayfish, minnow, or frogs.

A small bucket provides a home for the creatures she catches.

We all wear Keens or Merrell water shoes to make traversing wet rocks and climbing in and out of the boats in unpredictable river bottoms as easy as possible.

Here is Elsa in action with her hiking poles.....

Sam caught most of our lunch with one of Julia's crayfish as bait.

Then Daddy fried it up using the shore lunch kit I pack in our dry bag. (Bottle of oil, ziplock baggies, plastic KoolAid container filled with flour, salt and pepper shaker, a fork, and a lighter). It is totally worth hauling the campstove and cast iron pan when we take that first bite of fresh fried Northern! 

In case you were wondering what we do if we DON'T catch enough fish to feed 6 people we bring either tortillas and peanut butter and squeeze jelly or summer sausage/cheese/crackers.

After lunch the boys waded upstream to do some more fishing and I was on standby for snapping pictures of what they caught.

 Thank goodness for good water shoes because the river was full of big boulders and the water got thigh high. We always wear zip off pants so we are prepared for any situation. They aren't the cheapest pants out there, but I always watch for them at Goodwill and have been saving them for the kids to grow into each year.

My scramble up river was worth it to capture Brian with his biggest bass of the trip.

After 3 hours of fishing and playing below the second rapids we packed up and headed back to our campsite. As you can see Elsa is loving her status as a non-paddler.

EditNot having to portage all our gear means we can eat pretty well on our trip. We can pack meat and veggies for meatball subs or in the case of the kids- marshmallow subs (with pb&j). 

This Light My Fire grilling pod works great and packs up so small since you use any stick you find in the woods.

And we always end the meal with a fudge stripe s'more of course!

The sun sets early in September so the boys head out for evening fishing and the girls get to enjoy the hammocks or in my case, my trusty Crazy Creek Chair I've had since I graduated from high school.

I love quality gear that lasts and lasts and makes roughing it a little less rough. We may be camping, but we still prefer to be comfortable while we are enjoying our time outside.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get out there any enjoy the wilderness more - especially when your kids are young!

What are some of your favorite camping essentials that make canoeing or camping (with or without kids) easier?

This is just one of the many memories we get to make by taking our kids on a little less conventional camping trips.....father and son paddling back to shore at sunset

It doesn't get much sweeter than that!

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